Does Your Dog Need To Go On A Diet?
Does your dog have a great appetite... for just about everything? If he or she carries around extra pounds, embark on a healthy weight loss program.
We’re so accustomed to seeing our dogs that sometimes we don’t realize when they’ve gotten chubby. To determine if your pet is carrying excess weight, take a look with fresh eyes and ask yourself:
- Has my dog lost his or her shape?
- Can I still see a waist curving below the ribs?
- Can I feel the ribs?
- Is my dog’s belly distended or hanging down?
- Does he or she have a hard time catching up with you?
- And is my dog a food hog?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to schedule a visit to the veterinarian (and if the staff needs more than one person to lift your small dog to the scale, you’ll know you got there just in time.)
Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what the standard weight range is for your dog’s breed. Once he or she finds your dog to be in good health, it’s time to discuss your dog’s diet. Ask about the proper amount of dog food you should provide daily. Your veterinarian might suggest changing the menu to a lighter formula that provides an optimum balance of nutrition and energy.
A dog’s weight loss program is the same as a human’s: eat sensibly and increase daily exercise.
Keep a record of everything your dog eats for a week – you may realize that it’s more than just the breakfast and dinner that you feed. Include table scraps. And if there’s a toy stuffed with peanut butter that she plays with when you leave the house, that counts, too.
Special treats, like rewarding with a bone every time he comes in from a walk, add up. Calorie-wise, giving a dog an in-between-meals snack is like giving a person candy. A small piece may not hurt, but several a day will have an impact. (Note: Dogs should never be fed chocolate or sugary treats).
Healthy dog treats, including raw veggies, make good dog snacks. Try different crunchy foods, such as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, celery and especially carrots. Some people foods, such as onions or raw potatoes, aren’t safe for dogs, so discuss healthy snacks with your veterinarian.
You can also break treats in half or remove a handful of kibble from your dog’s measured meal and dole pieces out over the day.
A daily exercise routine can also help your dog lose weight and can be as simple as tossing a ball or taking walks. Gradually extend the length of your activity time. For apartment dwellers, even taking the stairs with your dog every day instead of riding the elevator can make a difference.
Or try a new activity, such as the canine sport of agility, where both owner and dog try to complete an obstacle course within a time limit. Your dog will look forward to training sessions, which invariably include fun, laughter and hugs.
When winter storms keep both of you indoors, invent ways to keep your dog healthy and in A-1 shape. Toss a soft ball or a favorite toy down a hallway or even up and down a set of stairs. Set up barricades for her to jump in your basement or hallway.
And remember, the best treat of all is a scratch behind the ears from the person she adores. Zero calories!