Do you know the feeling when you are welcoming a new family member? One day you find a Maltese puppy for sale, or a Shih Tzu mix Maltese, buy it, bring it home, and have a happy life. At least until you see that your love and lifestyle caused your precious pet to put on weight!
In the United States, more than half of cats or dogs are obese or overweight. These statistics are very worrying. Your pet can’t live a long and healthy life unless it’s fit, as the problems associated with obesity in dogs are just like in humans – risks of illness and early death.
If you want to educate yourself and learn how to make your dog’s life better, you will find a few pointers here on what to do when you have an overweight dog.
Visit Your Veterinarian
If you ever had problems with your weight, you probably know the drill. The first thing you need to do is to contact your doctor, who should help you decide on a diet and exercise regime. The same case applies to your dog. You need to know how much weight it should lose, how fast, and what it should eat.
It’s essential to remember that every breed is different. French bulldogs may seem overweight, but actually, they can be in perfect shape. On the other hand, hounds like Azawakh may be overweight when you can’t spot any hint of ribs from afar.
Sometimes being overweight means that your four-legged friend has a problem with health which is the cause of extra pounds, but in most cases, it goes the other way around.
Unfortunately, obesity is tied to a wide variety of health problems like diabetes, pancreatitis, heart disease, dysplasia, and a lot more. If your pet has weight problems for a long time now, you should think about doing a more profound examination to check if its body is still healthy. Diseases like diabetes will significantly influence your dog’s eating habits, as you have to watch on the glycemic index and glucose levels.
Everyone gains weight the same, no matter if you are talking about humans or animals, by eating to much and not exercising. Losing weight starts and ends in the same place – a dog’s bowl. The only way for your pet to get back in shape is to eat healthier and, in most cases, less.
The first thing you need to do is to cut back on calories. The chances are that your dog needs less food than you may think. On the back of your food back, you should find some guidelines regarding how much of it you should give to your dog daily. Many people think that by overestimating portions of food, they show their dog they love him.
The same case applies to table food scraps. If your dog is accustomed to waiting for plates to lick or uneaten food from dinner, it may be eating much more calories than you would think. You can help your pet only by eliminating it from its diet. Additionally, you can replace the second meal with mostly green beans mixed with regular food. It will be enough for the night.
If you want your dog to lose weight as fast as possible, you may want to rethink what kind of treats you use. You can switch regular treats (which in a majority of cases are made from grains)to healthier ones. For example, you can replace biscuits, cheeses, or other high-fat treats with carrots, apples, or green beans. Most dogs will still enjoy a crunchy snack!
The other solution is to replace food with fun. If you are already feeding your dog good quality food, and it is still getting bigger and bigger, you may want to cut the treats a little. It is tempting to give your pooch a bone or a cookie for being here and making sweet eyes, but it is crucial to avoid giving food as a sign of love.
It is OK to use treats as a reward in training, but too much of them will bring the unwanted, opposite effect. You can break the treat to make it smaller or give less of them. Better yet, you can teach your dog that the only treat it needs is you. Try offering a round of fetch instead of a french fry or a belly rub in place of some pork belly.
In addition to proper amounts of food, you should check out the quality of food you give to your pet. Most processed dog foods are full of carb-based fillers. When you break down the ingredients on the labels of regular dog food found in every supermarket, many of them have more than 60% of carbohydrates. Carbs are essential for good nutrition, but they should be properly mixed with enough proteins. If your dog doesn’t receive a sufficient amount of them, it won’t have the energy to do anything.
Apart from processed food, you can always switch on a different type of diet. Many people prefer to know exactly what their pup eats and prepare everything by themselves. A dog’s diet’s most popular options include homemade food, fresh food, or a raw diet.
Homemade food has to provide all the essential nutrients that can be hard to calculate without expert knowledge. However, if you’ve got time and energy to cook and count how much of what your dog needs, it may be the best way for you to control your pup’s weight and health. The best way to make sure that your home-cooked diet is good is to ask a vet or an animal nutritionist for a recipe.
If you are not worried about the prize, you should check out few companies that prepare food themselves and deliver it to your house. The best-known options are:
- The Farmer’s Dog
- Nom Nom
They look like regular cooked dog food, and they come packed in plastic bags or tear-off pouches. Some of them come frozen, and others are stored in the fridge.
Let’s be honest. If you and your dog lived on the couch for the last months or years, it is not an easy journey to get back in shape. You shouldn’t set unrealistic goals, like running a marathon with your dog, cause you’ll probably fail and discourage yourself from further tries. Building up strength and endurance can take you both a lot of time. It would be best if you started slowly in order to avoid injuries.
You can start your dog’s regime with longer walks. However, the calorie loss during walking is pretty insignificant, so don’t be surprised if your dog won’t lose weight. Long walks are better for building up muscles and endurance for more challenging exercises.
When going out for a walk, you may want to consider putting additional weight on your dog’s back. You can put some bottles or other weight on the back of your dog, using special backpacks designed for animals when you go for a walk. A 160-pound human uses about 500 calories an hour walking uphill with a pack. Your dog won’t lose nearly that much but it is still far superior to regular walks.
If you want your dog to lose weight fast, you should consider running, as it is the best exercise for losing pounds. You can always take a bicycle (preferably a cool looking mountain bike) and let your dog run along but don’t use choke collars. Always have a release mechanism to release your dog incase of emergency. Keep it nice and easy the same way you would run to lose weight, at a very low heart rate!
Some owners don’t have the time or health to run with their pet, but there are other ways you can ensure them some movement. One of them is a unique treadmill designed only for dogs. Rain and thunderstorms won’t disturb your plans again! You can just put it inside the house and let your dog run regardless of the weather.
Playing catch is a fantastic option for people with a backyard. The biggest advantage is that the owner can stay quiet, and a dog will be happy to do everything by himself. Even a tiny dog can burn a lot of calories running around catching the ball. If your dog knows how to catch a frisbee, and gloves do it as often as you can. It is even more effective than the ball.
People often choose swimming when they want to lose weight, as this activity burns around 400 calories an hour. Analogically, a 40-pound dog will burn about 100 calories an hour, and you already know that it’s a lot. Many dogs prefer swimming in rivers or lakes, but you can find pools that your pooch can hop into. You can swim together; your dog for sure will be happier with the owner by its side. Nevertheless, always remember about some kind of protection in case you or your animal will get tired.
Stick To Schedule
If you want your dog to get back in shape, you should plan everything ahead and make a schedule you will respect. A specific plan will help you follow all rules and choose the best diet possible. In creating a dietary plan, you may want to follow these ten steps:
- Calculate your dog’s ideal body weight. You can consult your veterinarian for the best information.
- Weight-monitor your pup. You should weigh your dog at least once a week. With small dogs, you can do it on a regular home scale, but with bigger ones it may be necessary to go to the vet every week.
- Calculate calorie intake. Your vet usually calculates this, but you can also use the equation 70x(Ideal Body Weight in kg)^0.75.
- Include treats into the calculation. Figure out the way to give your pooch fewer treats, or swap them for something lower-calorie. Try rewarding your dog with fun instead of food.
- Identify the right quality food and its quantity. You can buy pre-prepared food or weigh it every time you are giving food to your dog.
- Set a schedule. Ideally, you should feed your dog at least two times per day. More frequent but smaller meals.
- Recheck the weight after a month. Ideally, your dog will be losing between 0.5 to 2 percent of its starting body weight per week or about 2 to 8 percent per month.
- Adjust calories. If you see anything wrong, like your dog losing too much or too little weight, you can decrease or increase the intake.
- Increase the level of activity. Start slow and steady.
- Create Post-diet. When your dog reaches his target weight, don’t give up on a healthy diet. Increasing the amount of food fastly can lead to rebound weight gain.
The Bottom Line
Getting your dog in shape is a challenging task. However, you can see that it’s very rewarding and not just for the pup. You can also become fitter and make some muscles. The best thing is that you can do it with a friend who will always have time and be there for you. If you need some help and inspiration, you can look up Obie the dachshund and see how his owners managed to help him. Right now, he is a happy, fit dog, and your best furry friend can also be alike! Don’t give up and think about your health!