Wait… My Dog Isn’t Fat!!!
The vet must have been thinking about some other dog! Not my athletic, handsome, little man! Lose ten pounds! The Nerve! Of course, after the hysteria settled, I slowly recognized that he did seem a little more cuddy of late… maybe losing some weight was just the thing. But I know I feed him correctly and we go for walks all the time… how could he be overweight?
I did some homework and I found out it’s not just my dog that is experiencing some extra pounds. There are estimates that nearly 50% of all U.S. dogs are either overweight or obese. And being overweight is definitely not good for dogs. They can be more likely to develop potentially fatal diseases like:
• Heart disease
• Breathing disorders
• High blood pressure
• Immune challenges
If you can maintain your dog’s ideal weight, you can add nearly two extra years to your dog’s life! It turns out to be pretty simple. Our dogs are not getting the level of exercise they need to burn the number of calories that we are feeding them. And the more they become a permanent part of the furniture, the more sedentary they are, becoming a food-eating weight-gaining canine!
One of the biggest problems we face is pet food labeling. Labels only indicate the amount of food to feed them to maintain them. They do not indicate how much food to feed to initiate weight loss. Following these instructions will likely lead to continued gains. You need to feed based on the calories you are putting in the bowl. Once you understand how many calories to feed to help them lose weight, you’ll know how much to put in the bowl. Note: This is good place to remember where we stated with the vet! Ask for a calorie recommendation!
Your dog needs to consume more calories and exercise more (we might talk about exercise at later date!)
Some do and don’ts
• Don’t feed 24-7— stop letting the dog eat whenever it wants, morning, noon, and night. Big point here… a dog will just because they are bored!
• Don’t guess at the amounts! Use a real measuring cup to get exact number of calories per meal.
• Don’t make big cuts to the portions all at once. It can upset the dog’s metabolism.
• Do reduce portions over a number of days
• Do feed up to four small portions a day. Divide the total number of calories for all meals (and treats) into the number of meals you want to feed. The total must equal the number of calories desired for weight loss.
• Do replace high calorie treats with low-calorie bits, like raw carrot or green beans
One tip the vet did offer us (although it seemed weird!) was feeding pumpkin! Feeding
pumpkin alone won’t help your dog lose weight. But apparently it has high dietary fiber content and more fiber helps your dog feel full. This helps when if you’re cutting back on their food portions. If you remove a ½ cup of dog food, add equal amounts canned pumpkin. Be watchful here though, look for just canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling because it has sugar in it.
It’s also important to be careful about dog foods marketed for canine weight loss. They canbe really confusing. Feed labeled “diet”, or “reduced-calorie” can be create bigger problems. Some replace meat products with carbohydrates. It lowers the calories for sure and in short term might help them feel full. This might lead to overfeeding and all those carbs lead to lots of extra poop! One article we reviewed suggested adding some canned foods to your dog’s food routine. Apparently they can higher protein than dry dog food. Again, talk to your vet about the right balance of calories, protein or carbohydrates.
I mentioned earlier that we di think that regular walks were enough exercise. It’s no surprise that real exercise help an obese dog lose weight. If your dog isn’t maintain weight with regular walks, consider substitute some of that time to play fetch. Start off with a slow pace… if he gets tired easily slow down. It’s OK to work up to a level of activity that works over time. Again, add a discussion on exercise when you ask the vet about calories reduction.
Our Kody hated pumpkin! Luckily, my wife bought four cans in advance (looks like we’ll be having pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!).We were feeding him about an extra two cups of food per day that he didn’t need. And he’s getting more active exercise instead of just walks. We’ll see how it goes… my wife says it could hurt my waistline either!