Have you noticed your dog has been putting on weight lately? While many people have joked about gaining weight during the COVID pandemic, maybe you’ve been a little too generous with treats for your dog as well. This year, set a goal for helping your dog lose weight.
Why Help Your Dog Lose Weight?
The first reason to help your dog lose weight is to make them feel better. Be it a person or an animal, being overweight doesn’t feel very good. Not only does being overweight slow you down, but it also comes with a host of other complications. Being overweight can lead to metabolic irregularities, abnormal organ function, diabetes, hypertension, and bladder issues.
There is also thought to be a link between obesity and cancer. While more research needs to be done about the connection between obesity and cancer, it is thought that being obese causes more fat to form around important organs. This excessive fat can cause inflammation that then can then lead to the development of cancer.
On average, dogs that are overweight don’t live as long as their normal weight counterparts. It seems that small dogs have a much more drastic cut to lifespan than large dogs do. At most, an overweight dog can lose just over two years of life.
What Factors Affect your Dog’s Weight?
Many human nutritionists tell their clients that weight loss is about calories in and calories out. This is pretty much true for all animals. When you eat more calories than you are burning, those excess calories are then stored in the body as fat.
If an animal went through a period of time where food was scarce, they could use their fat deposits to survive. The problem now is that food is available year-round. Your dog never has a reason not to eat, so any extra food they take in will quickly turn into fat.
To reduce the amount of fat in your dog’s body, you either have to reduce the amount of food you give them or increase their activity level.
Helping Your Dog Lose Weight in 2021
It’s up to you to help your dog lose the pounds. They are not going to change without someone interceding. Take the time to think about what you are comfortable doing to help your dog lose weight. Here are a few ideas to help you tighten up your dog a bit:
- Don’t guess how much food you’re giving your dog. Always measure out their food with either a measuring cup or a kitchen scale.
- Rather than rewarding your dog with a treat giving, reward them with playtime. Instead of giving them excessive calories, have fun burning calories with them.
- Get your dog outdoors. It might not be the most fun to go out in the snow, but when possible, you should get your dog in the sunshine. Even if it is cold out, try scheduling a play date with a friend’s dog. Two dogs playing together can burn a lot of calories.
- If you’re going to give your dog a treat, turn it into a game. There are treat dispensing toys or puzzles that give your dog a great mental workout while also making them work for their treat.
Remember, weight loss is about how many calories your dog is consuming versus how many calories they are burning each day. If you are not sure about how much you can cut your dog’s food by, start your weight loss challenge by just measuring their food.
Once you get a baseline for how much food you have been giving your dog, cut that amount by about 10 percent. That’s an amount your dog likely won’t miss but can make a big difference in their waistline. Try that out for a few weeks. If you still are not seeing a difference, you could try removing another 5 percent. You won’t want to go much lower than that; more activity is a better option.
When to Call Your Vet
Your vet should be brought in from the get-go. If your dog is currently overweight, their body may react to losing weight. You’ll want to make sure you get a physical from your vet and tell them that you are trying to help them lose weight. Your vet will be able to check what their condition is and will be able to give you more specific recommendations.
With your mind made that your dog needs to lose weight, and your vet’s approval, your dog will be on the way to a healthier life.