There’s no two ways about it – losing weight can be hard work, whether you’re human or canine.
But unlike us humans, our dogs don’t have a ‘full’ button, meaning it’s easy for them to put weight on without noticing, and losing it can require a lot of work and willpower.
But if the issue has gone beyond a few extra pounds and you find yourself with an overweight dog, it’s vital that you do something about it.
Weight loss for dogs works in the same way as it does for humans. Feed them enough to fuel them for their day and no more. Then increase the level of activity so they burn off those pesky calories and begin shedding weight.
All while walking, running and – the best bit – playing more!
Our latest blog discusses the issue further, as well as providing some tips on how to help your dog lose weight.
Causes of weight gain in dogs
The causes of weight gain in dogs are the same as in humans. Raise your hand if you’re guilty of any of these…
Too much food
A key way of keeping your dog’s waistline in check is by keeping track of their portion sizes.
Food intake is a balance. You need to feed your canine companion enough to fuel them for the day, but not so much that they don’t burn off the calories they take in.
We may think we’re showing love to our dogs by giving them extra dinner. But we’re not. Overfeeding is setting them up for illnesses, and you could genuinely be hurting them with kindness!
Too many treats
It’s the same story for treats – we know it’s hard to resist those ‘puppy dog eyes’. Treating our dogs is fine in moderation, but too much can really be too much.
That’s especially true if you use packet treats.
Feed them too many and your dog won’t always respond to them when you need them to.
Feed them sparingly and the treats retain their appeal and can continue encouraging your dog to be obedient.
Not enough exercise
Dogs need exercise. They need to sniff, run, play, meet other dogs and burn off energy.
They aren’t designed to be sedentary or lie around sleeping all day long. Sure, we know they love a good snooze, but that’s usually to recover between walks and games!
They are active animals used to running, walking and playing – both in the wild and when living with their people.
Wrong type of food
Feeding your dog the wrong type of food can also cause weight issues. Cheap, manufactured food isn’t great for your dog.
We appreciate times are tough and money can be tight. But we would strongly urge you to buy the highest quality dog food you can feasibly afford.
Your dog really will thank you for it.
Health risks associated with having an overweight dog
Weight loss for dogs isn’t just about feeding them the right amount of food. There are genuine health risks with having an overweight animal.
Overweight dogs are at increased risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Joint issues.
How to help your dog lose weight
The good news is that there are lots of ways to help your dog lose weight.
Encourage exercise and play
As we mentioned earlier, dogs are designed to run, walk and play. They love it and we should do everything we can to encourage them to move.
Ideally, a dog should be walked at least twice per day. If that isn’t possible, throw a ball, play with them and get them moving as much as you can.
Change up mealtimes
If your dog is a grazer, change to set mealtimes with no food left out during the day. If you work, use an automatic pet feeder from Closer Pets to keep mealtimes regular and help control portions.
If you have multiple dogs and one steals the other’s dinner, use our new MiBowl® Automatic Microchip Pet Feeder to restrict access to greedy siblings.
Cut back on treats
Treats are great for training, maintaining obedience and showing your love. But they should be shared in moderation.
Either feed fewer treats or switch them out for organic, homemade or unprocessed treats.
Either way, the fewer calories you feed in treats, the more effective dog dieting will be.
Calorie counting is a fundamental of weight loss in humans and is also critical for weight loss in dogs.
You don’t have to go into the same level of detail though.
Average your dog’s daily calorie intake and reduce it by 5–10%. Start slow and gradually increase that calorie reduction and your dog won’t even notice!
If you need some guidance on how often to feed your dog, check out our blog post about How Often to Feed Dogs.
Puzzle feeders are fantastic for dog dieting and general fun factor. Most dogs appreciate having to work for their food and puzzle feeders deliver that.
Your dog also expends calories trying to eat, so it’s a double win!
Keep an eye on them at first to make sure they know what to do and respond positively to this change.
Increase the quality of food
Again, we fully appreciate times are tough, but try to feed your dog the highest quality of food you can.
High-quality food will contain more meat, more whole ingredients and more nutrition. It will also contain fewer calories, less fat and fewer filler ingredients.
It’s ideal for dog dieting and will also improve your dog’s overall health and well-being.
Help with hydration
Regular drinking aids digestion and helps flush out toxins that may build up, which can cause kidney or urinary tract disease. Doggos absolutely love moving water, which is why pet drinking fountains are brilliant for keeping your companions topped up.
Dog dieting and weight loss
Being overweight is not a dog’s natural position. They much prefer to be lean, run, play and be active.
So, if your four-legged friend is overweight, we strongly encourage you to make a change.
Dog dieting is something you can do together. Do it well and your dog will have fewer health issues, will be even more willing to have fun with you and – most importantly – will live longer.
If those aren’t reasons enough to keep an eye on your dog’s food intake, we don’t know what is!