By Karen A. Soukiasian
No doubt, chubby little puppies do look cute! But letting a dog remain overweight could lead to serious health issues later in life such as congestive heart failure, arthritis, diabetes, joint and respiratory difficulty.
A sudden, unexplained weight gain could be the sign of medical trouble. Check with your veterinarian, if your dog appears to be putting on weight fast.
As dogs age, some become less active. Keep your senior dog as active as possible, but take into account their limitations.
How do you know your dog has gained too much weight? Other than using a scale or visually noticing your dog is packing on the pounds, you can do a simple rib test. Rub your hands across their side…if you cannot feel their ribs, it’s time to work on getting rid of the extra weight.
The simplest ways to do that is to plan on more exercise, eliminate or modifying treats and adjust how and when you feed them.
Exercise does not mean, “We have a fenced in backyard.” It means walking your dog! Two to three 20-minute walks a day can burn up those calories! If your dog is not accustomed to being walked, start slowly and work up to a reasonable pace. Walking your dog is also an excellent time to bond with them and get some exercise for yourself!
Dog parks are a great place to work out your dog! Their physical interaction with canine companions not only tires them out, is a treat in itself; it will also help them drop a few pounds and tone them up in a fun way.
Feed less, but feed more often. As an alternative to 1 or 2 large meals a day, give a quarter less food per day, but, divide it into smaller feedings and spread it out to 3-5 feedings. Your dog still looks forward to meantime, but doesn’t feel as hungry all day.
Limit treats! Many people “treat” their dogs all day long. Treats should be pea-sized and sparsely doled out. Treats are treats…they are not a meal! You are not doing them a favor by handing out too many treats! Measure out what you normally feed your dog. Put some aside and use that as treats during the day.
Make treats low calorie. Apples, green beans, carrots, sugar-less cereal, make great treats.
No table scraps. There are lots of calories in table scraps.
Make sure cat food is out of reach. Dogs love to sneak a quick snack of cat food when no one is looking!
Make it a house rule…no one — children and guests included — is allowed to slip the dog a treat!
Change their food to a low-calorie or weight control variety. Most major commercial dog foods provide light or weight control kibbles. They are high in fiber, low in fat. Your dog feels satisfied, yet isn’t getting all those extra calories.
Add low calorie fillers to their food. Some dogs love green beans. Add a handful to their feed. They make wonderful filler…your dog feels satiated, and you aren’t fattening them up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
If your dog likes car rides, as an alternative to a food treat, take them for a short car ride to a beach or park.
Play with your dog! Interacting with them, instead of just handing out treats, helps to strengthen your bond. Your time is more precious to your dog, than any treat!
If your dog is toy or ball motivated, surprise them with a new toy or ball now and then, instead of a food treat.
Bottom line: More exercise, lower calorie foods, spread out mealtime to 3-5 times a day and fewer treats, will help your canine beach ball drop those pounds in just a few weeks. If they don’t, it’s time to call the veterinarian…there may be a medical reason why your dog is not shedding those pounds.
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