Some breeds of dogs have an inbred propensity to be overweight. Then there are others that wouldn’t have a weight problem if it weren’t for all the table scraps and treats we give them. But regardless of why your dog is fat, it is not good for his health. Putting your overweight dog on a weight-loss diet can help improve his quality of life as well as his life span.
A year ago my pudgy pug started to suddenly display signs of breathing distress. She coughed and wheezed much the same way as a person having an asthma attack. It was late at night on a weekend, so my husband rushed her to the nearest emergency vet. We soon learned that she has a critical heart condition, and at her weight, she wasn’t expected to live much longer. We put her on a strict diet prescribed by her canine cardiologist. She is still with us a year later, and much more active, healthy and svelte.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind if you’d like to help your dog lose weight:
Start with Your Vet
Just like us, the first step to any weight loss plan is to consult with your doctor … in this case, your dog’s doctor. They will help you decide how much weight your pup needs to lose, how long it should take for him to lose it, what food to feed and how much.
In order for a weight loss diet to work, you have to follow directions. If you are supposed to feed your dog two cups of food each day, measure out the amount precisely without throwing in a few extra bits for good measure.
As a dog lover I know how tempting it is to share your peanut butter sandwich with Fido. But even one bite of people food can derail a dog’s weight loss diet. For instance, my pug’s weight loss regimen includes 285 calories a day. Just one teaspoon of peanut butter contains 31 calories – almost 11 percent of her entire daily caloric allowance!
Don’t Let Yourself Run Out of Food
Do not procrastinate when it comes to buying more dog food when you are running low. If it is a prescription formula, it may not be easy to find. Allowing yourself to run out will result in feeding him the “next best thing,” which is more than likely not a healthy choice.
Exercise if His Health Allows
In our case, our pug’s heart condition is so serious that she is not allowed to exercise. But in many cases, exercise will be an important component to your dog’s weight loss regimen.
Many dog treats are high in fat and sugar – that’s why our dogs love them so much. Instead of giving treats, hold out a few pieces of your dog’s food each day to use as a reward or just for fun.