56% of dogs in the United States of America are obese or overweight, and this additional weight is tied to an unpleasant array of health problems.
When it comes to dealing with obesity, or even the slow creep of excess fat, simply knowing what your dog’s body weight should be and keeping on top of any fluctuations is the first and most crucial step.
You can seek your veterinary doctor’s counsel on your dog’s ideal weight, but a quick method to assess good dog condition at home is to ask yourself some questions like:
- Does my dog have an hourglass shape when you stand behind them and look down?
- Do they have a waist?
- Can you quickly feel your dog’s ribs?
If you’re feeling three “nos,” there’s a chance your dog needs to shed weight. So, now what? Here are some vet-approved helpful tips for helping your dog shed excess pounds and keep them in better condition.
The food factor
For canines, as for humans, losing weight comes down to food and exercise. And for every dog owner trying to reduce their dog’s weight, food is the most vital.
“Weight loss starts and ends at the food bowl for dogs,” says Ernie Ward, DVM and CEO of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
For all dog owners with busy lifestyles, it’s easy to overestimate the effect of physical activity on pet weight maintenance.
So even for active dogs, it’s crucial to establish clear guidelines for daily caloric intake.
Be specific with how much you’re feeding your dog.
Here’s where things can go sideways. We may or may not prefer to count calories as a guide for their eating, with some opting for other means of keeping to a healthy regime.
But when managing your dog’s weight long-term, it’s essential to create a solid benchmark for how much food to feed them.
This implies determining the number of calories your dog requires on a daily basis.
It is not a pleasant idea to rely on the feeding instructions on the average dog food package.
Many factors will influence your dog’s dietary needs, including size, breed, activity level, and whether they’re neutered or spayed.
Standard kibble-bag feeding ranges are too broad for your dog.
Many dog owners end up over-feeding based on excess feeding and a too-vague suggested portion of food sizes, typically measured in scoops and cups.
When determining the ideal caloric intake, it’s essential to consider some factors. “We consider a few things, like
- Body condition score
- Muscle condition score
- Concurrent medical conditions
Begin by determining how many calories you should be feeding your dog on a daily basis.
As a starting point, numerous online tools give rough feeding guidelines based on breed and weight.
The Resting Energy Requirement (RER) formula can be used for at-home calculation. Take your dog’s weight in kg, multiply the result by 30, and add 70. Employ the MER (metabolic energy requirement) method depending on spayed, health, neutered, etc.
Food quality is also vital.
In addition to calorie counting, another vital part of dog weight maintenance or weight loss is feeding lower-carb, whole, fresh food.
A lot of ultra-processed dog foods are carb-based fillers—as Dr. Ward has stated, when you break down the food ingredients on the label, many of the top at over 60 percent or more carbohydrates.
Fresh diets provide quality protein, fiber, and moisture that satisfy your dog without carb-y fillers.
Feeding nutrient-dense, bioavailable food will make your dog healthy as they reduce its intake of food.
If you have a cat in the house and you discover your dog is eating its food, then you need to train your dog how to stop eating cat food, because cat feeds contain fats that can make your dog gain more weight.
Treats also count.
Another way to help your dog shed some extra weight is by controlling and reducing its treat intake. Here, moreover, quantity and quality matter.
No one will like to deny their pet treats, as they are often good training aids, and it’s interesting to see the excitement they generate.
But it’s imperative to closely examine how many treats you give your dog in a day and their caloric impact.
Treats should not contain more than 10% of total daily calories.
More daily safely exercise.
Food is vital, but no health maintenance or weight loss plan is complete without good exercise.
The most obvious and essential activity for any dog is walking.
Daily walks don’t just exercise your dog’s body; they give crucial mental stimulation and that opportunity to sniff.
The amount of walking your dog requires on their general health and the breed.
But while some people do say that some dogs need more exercise than others, it is essential to know that all dogs need to move.
The recommended minimum daily exercise for a dog is 20 min twice a day; some dogs will need much more. For many breeds, 1 hour of exercise daily is a good one.
If your dog needs to shed weight, try to give it more exercise.
Ask your vet about the best activities based on your pet’s breed, age, physical condition, and gender.
Introduce new exercises slowly to avoid injury. And, unless your canine has been trained or slowly introduced to these new activities, leave the extreme sports to your weekends.
Too-vigorous or repetitive exercises can put your dog at risk of severe joint injury. Also, keep weather conditions—like the sun —in mind if your activities are not indoors.
The sun creates a potential for burnt paw pads and heat stroke.
Overall, the best weight management strategy for a dog is to develop good habits that are applied consistently and long-term.