Updated: Oct 4, 2021
According to recent veterinary surveys, over half of dogs in the USA are overweight. That means each of these dogs are at risk of developing crippling arthritis, debilitating diabetes, catastrophic kidney & heart disease, high blood pressure and several forms of cancer. How can you slim down your plus sized pooch and reduce their risk of developing serious illnesses? Try these seven tips from veterinarian experts and canine nutritionists; along with the assistance of your veterinarian.
If you don't know how many calories your dog needs, you don't know how much to feed them each day. Dog food bags' guidelines are based on adult (not spayed or neutered) active canines. That means if you have an older (spayed or neutered) indoor lap dog, you are probably over feeding them by 20-30% by following the dog food directions. Instead, ask your dog's veterinarian at their annual exam to calculate a proper daily caloric count for your canine.
In the meantime, this formula from Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM can be a good starting point: Divide your dog's weight by 2.2 ➡️ multiple this number by 30 ➡️ add 70. This will give you a general idea of how many calories to feed a typical inactive, indoor and neutered/spayed dog that weighs between 6 to 60 pounds. Of course, each dog's metabolism is different and you should consult your dog's doctor before starting a diet or making dietary changes.
= [(dog's weight in pounds/2.2) x 30] + 70
Our best tool to fight the battle of the bulge is to measure our dog's food. Too many of us just guesstimate how much we are feeding our canine companions. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has done studies to show that feeding as few as 10 extra kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year for small dogs. After you calculate how many calories your dog needs, determine how much food to feed them at each meal and measure it.
Dogs enjoy treats, feeding your dogs treats isn't bad, as long as you are counting the calories and feeding your pooch "good" treats. Choose low-calorie, low-sugar goodies that provide a health benefit; like single-ingredient treats such as sweet potatoes, fish, blueberries; or limited ingredient treats such as La Barkeria Treats. Many pet parents do the work to calculate the proper amount of food for their pooch; but sabotage their efforts by over indulging with treats.
A best practice is to break treats into small peewee pieces and give them to your dog as their "earn" them. Be cautious of guilt-treating your pooch; the practice of giving treats because you feel guilty for leaving them home alone. Instead use treats as a reward for good behavior. Pets (and people) need to learn to earn extra goodies. As few as 30 extra calories per day means your dog could gain over 3 pounds in a year.
An alternative to highly-processed store- bought treats are offering your dog baby carrots, green beans, celery, cucumbers, apples, bananas or ice cubes; or purchase limited Ingredient all-natural dog treats like those from La Barkeria. These naturally nutritious snacks are a better option for many dogs. Be sure not to feed your dog a full apple or banana as they are too high in sugar for their daily diet. In addition, stop feeding your dog your leftovers as your dog doesn't need the extra salt, sugar or fats in their diet.
HUSTLE FOR HEALTH
When it comes to living a long, pain-free and disease-free life; research shows that that our most powerful tool is daily exercise. For dogs, 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce many behavioral issues. Make a commitment to your dog to walk daily, rain or shine. The results will extend to both sides of the leash.
Almost every dog can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement; they're packed with antioxidants that can help prevent and treat numerous diseases. In addition, they can help ease achy joints and encourage weight loss. L-carnitine can aid weight loss and promote lean muscle mass. Ask your veterinarian if either (or both) make sense for your dog and which brand they recommend.
COUNT THE CARBS
Many diets contain 60% or more carbohydrates when you analyze the food label. Canine nutritionists suggest diets that that are a balance of protein and carbohydrates. As a general rule, a diet higher protein and low carb is recommended for weight loss; but by no means should your put your dog on a no carb diet. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before making any diet changes. Dogs with certain conditions require a specialized diet and should follow their health care professional's guidelines.
It's the responsibility of each of us to help our dogs live their best life. This includes helping them achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It is our job as pet parents to help our canine companions eat healthy and nutritious foods and exercise daily. The extra work will be well worth it.
Related: La Barkeria Treats