We humans love our dogs. We pamper our pooches as we do our children. We strive to keep our pets happy, and if this means feeding our dog whenever he wants to eat, then we will do so. There’s nothing wrong with a pudgy pooch. If the dog is happy then we are happy.
Unfortunately, all that extra weight your pooch carries around is not good for him. Just like people, overweight dogs can suffer health problems due to excess weight. A fat dog cannot run or jump as well as he could before the weight gain. He will get overheated much faster, and he will get tired quicker. Heart problems are not unheard of in overweight dogs. Too much excess weight for too long may shorten your dog’s life.
Now that you know that a chubby dog is not really a healthy dog, you should begin to take steps to reduce the weight. A dog with a healthy weight should be able to curl himself up in a nice doggy ball for a sweet nap. Overweight dogs can’t do this too well. Help your pooch get back to his happier nap time position.
You should be able to look at your dog and tell if he is overweight. A dog of normal weight will have a tucked-up abdomen, a definite waist, and you should be able to put your hands around his chest and feel his rib cage. If this does not describe your dog, then he may be overweight. The best way to figure out if your pooch has a weight problem is to weigh him on a simple household scale. If the dog weighs 15% or more over what he should weigh, then he is overweight.
Now would be a great time to take your dog into the vets office. Dogs, like people, can suffer from illnesses that cause weight gain; Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism are just two that will cause problems in your dog. Also, stress may play a role in your pet’s weight gain. Nothing should be ruled out until your veterinarian has fully examined your dog. Once you know whether or not your dog has a health problem, then it is time to tackle the weight problem.
Getting The Puppy To Eat Less
Most people simple feed their dogs too much food at one meal. As a dog owner, you should learn about the dietary needs of your particular breed of dog. Not all dogs need the same amount of foods, yet humans give their animals the same quantity no matter their size. Find out the ideal amount of food to feed your dog and measure out that amount to give them each day.
Never put your dog on a crash diet – where you severely limit their food intake until they lose the weight. This is a dangerous practice for all animals; crash diets never contain enough nutrients to sustain the dog’s energy level – especially if they are being fed poor quality foods. Severely limiting your dog’s food will put the animal under a lot of unneeded psychological stress. Finally, all that lost weight will be regained as soon as the crash diet ends.
The best way to help your pooch is to measure his food and space it out throughout the day. Does he like two meals? One meal and lots of small snacks? Three meals? You know your dog and how often he likes to eat, the trick is to just give him what his body requires to maintain his health, yet still lose a bit of weight. You can cut his food back some, but not to the point of starvation.
You should also discuss with your veterinarian any diet plans you are thinking about. Between your own research, and with help from the vet, you should be able to figure out exactly how much to feed your portly pooch. Older dogs, neutered dogs, and larger dogs all burn fewer calories than their smaller, un-neutered relatives. All dogs burn more calories during the cold days of winter. All these things will play a role in determining the best diet for your pet.
Weight Loss Diets For Dogs
There are special weight loss plans designed for dogs. They are often high-fiber, high-protein, low-fat diets that help your dog lose weight better than just cutting back on their portions. Good diet foods should contain a 5 – 12% fat content, between 7 – 30% fiber, 25% protein, and plenty of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids – preferably in the form of fish oil. The fiber content is the secret to the effectiveness of these special diet foods: fiber stimulates chewing, it slows the rate that it takes to digest the food – making the dog feel full for longer periods of time, and stabilizes blood glucose levels.
Because of legal issues, all diet foods for dogs have instructions clearly written to give your dog enough food to maintain their current weight. Without these labels they could not be sold. These foods should have a separate sheet of paper (maybe hidden within the package somewhere?) that instructs you on how much to give your dog in order for them to lose weight. They don’t give this information, so use the knowledge you obtained from your research and your vet and plan accordingly. There are both prescription and non-prescription weight-loss diets available for your pet. You and the vet will know what is best for your dog.
What About Puppy Treats?
Be especially careful with your dog’s diet during holidays. Well meaning friends and family may sneak treats to your pooch when you are not looking. Kindly remind them all that your dog is on a special diet and to please not feed him treats (that may just make him sick anyway).
Puppy Exercise Is Necessary
The most important thing you can do to help your pooch lose weight is to see that he gets regular exercise every single day. Take your dog for extra walks and treat both of you to a day at the park. Any exercise you can work into your dog’s life will be good for both of you. As an added bonus, an active dog increases his serotonin production in the brain – this reduces appetite. Lots of exercise, combined with less food, and your pampered pooch will soon be on his way to becoming super dog.