In honor of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day on October 14, our team at The Valley Veterinary Hospital wants to encourage pet owners to help their pooches shed those extra pounds. Losing weight is critical for overweight pets, but must be done in a healthy manner. Follow these five steps to healthy weight loss for your dog.
#1: Cut back on the dog treats
Did you know your dog’s treat rations should comprise only 10% of their total daily caloric intake? Although turning down those puppy-dog eyes begging for a handful of potato chips is tough, it’s in your dog’s best interest. If you can’t resist giving your dog a treat, skip the fat- and calorie-laden junk foods and stick to healthy options, like fresh veggies and small pieces of lean meat.
#2: Measure your dog’s food
Be honest—are you one of the many pet owners guilty of filling up your dog’s food dish when it’s empty, or dumping in a “cup” of food whenever your pooch appears hungry? This often leads to vastly overfed dogs. Instead, calculate the calories your dog needs each day, and divide that number into meals, measuring the portions correctly.
#3: Increase your dog’s daily activity
Does your pup’s daily routine consist of eating and keeping a spot on the couch warm? If so, it’s time to lace up your running shoes or hiking boots and take your dog outdoors. While indoors, you can toss your pooch a ball down the hallway, let them play with a stuffed toy, and use puzzle feeders instead of food dishes to encourage more activity.
#4: Show how much you love your dog without food
We often replace love and attention with food and treats, but your dog would be equally happy with a walk around the block, a soothing grooming session, or an interactive game.
#5: Consult your veterinarian for help creating a diet and exercise plan for your dog
Despite your best efforts at cutting back on treats and increasing exercise, your pudgy pooch may fail to lose weight. Overweight dogs who have difficulty shedding those extra pounds may suffer from metabolic diseases, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. In addition to treating metabolic conditions, we can recommend prescription diets and healthy weight loss goals for your pet.
If the number on the scale fails to move down when you weigh your dog, call us to schedule a thorough exam and diagnostic workup to evaluate their health status.