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Keeping your dog’s weight in a healthy range is important for maintaining overall health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, keeping your dog at a healthy weight lowers his/her risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer. How exactly do we manage a dog’s weight? It can be challenging as our furry friends may be able to guilt us into unlimited dog treats or have gotten used to eating habits. There are many components that go into managing your dog’s weight that can make the process easier for both you and your dog.
Determine What a Healthy Weight for your Dog is
Before you get started, you need to understand where your dog stands with their weight. Since every dog is so unique, the best resource for getting that ideal weight would be from your local veterinarian!
If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, there are many different factors that will play into your dog’s weight and feeding range:
After getting a better understanding of how your dog may compare to other dogs of the same breed and gender, you can work to understand your pet’s body composition. PetMD offers an online healthy weight calculator that you can input simple information about your dog to get an overall understanding of where your dog’s weight.
One easy way to help your dog gain or lose weight is through daily physical activity. If your dog needs to lose weight, you can add walks or play activity to their daily routine. Depending on what your pet’s current routine is, they may already get a lot of walking and play in. One key tip here is to increase the intensity of these activities. When walking your dog with the goal of weight loss, you should increase from a light stroll to a brisk walk or even turn that walk into a jog.
Make sure to keep these activities interesting and enjoyable for both you and your pet. This daily activity will improve your dog’s physical and mental health and create an overall healthier foundation for your pet.
Change Dog Foods
What your dog is eating may play a large role in the weight management process. Dogs can be seen like humans in this aspect because what they consume has a direct effect on their weight and overall health.
The dog food you chose for your dog has an effect on their digestive system and how they feel in general. When looking to lose weight, a dog’s food should be lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein. This usually means finding a higher quality dog food, not necessarily just anything with “diet” in the name.
Dog food analysis website Woof Whiskers lists the top rated dog food brands along with the average price per pound of dog food. Switching to a higher quality dog food that will satisfy your dog’s hunger for longer doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank!
Don’t Cave to Begging
Many of us have dogs that beg and even more of us probably cave to these behaviors. Working on begging can be a way to break the habit of your dog expecting food in situations and cut down on extra food that is unnecessary for them. A key way to end the behavior of begging is to ignore it all together. Eventually when the dog realizes they are not receiving a response when they beg, they will stop all together.
It is likely that they partake in this behavior when others are eating. Try to ignore when the dog begs during meal time specifically and you will be able to easier maintain their weight. If you feel like caving in and feeding them scraps, just remember that managing their weight is for the health of your lovely pet and that you would actually be hurting them by sabotaging their diet!
Reward Good Behavior Differently
If you reward your dog for good behavior by providing treats, this may be a habit that is also throwing off the maintenance of their weight. Once you begin rewarding them for minor things with food, they begin to expect it any time they do what they are supposed to. The more they are rewarded with dog treats and other foods, the more they are likely gaining unnecessary weight.
Instead of using food, your dog can be reward with a walk, playtime, being released from their leash, being pet, or other activities your pet may enjoy. If you really need to use food, try using something very low calorie like carrots which are a fun, crunchy snack most dogs enjoy.
Visit your veterinarian for a check up and weight plan or check for larger health issues
If issues with your dog’s weight continue after working on their diet, it may be time to consult your veterinarian. It is a good idea to visit the veterinarian prior to putting your pet on a diet, but it is especially important to visit your veterinarian if weight problems continue. These weight problems may be linked to larger health issues. If working on weight management yourself does not work, they may also have some insight to help you in your journey.