We’ve all been there: sitting around all winter, eating hearty meals, watching our waistlines grow. Your dog has even less control over this than you do. If your pooch packed on the weight a few months ago and still hasn’t managed to work it off, here are a few tips for helping to get your dog fitter. A bonus tip: it might encourage you to do the same!
1. Count calories, and keep calorie percentage from treats low
Keep in mind, calories for dogs add up much quicker than calories for people when you are using percentages. Talk to your vet about the ideal daily caloric intake for your dog, and make sure that treats are 15% or less (definitely less if you are shooting for significant weight loss) of that intake. The smaller the dog, the more those treat calories are worth, so make them count!
2. Actually measure how much food your dog receives
Don’t eyeball it; people are really bad at estimating measurements. We’ve found that it helps significantly to purchase something that is the exact amount of food your dog should receive at meal time. If your dog receives one cup of food each time they eat, it can be far too easy to use a measuring cup that holds two cups, sink it into the food, and say “close enough” when it looks about halfway full. Again, calories add up in a hurry for dogs, so staying on top of things and being as exact as possible is crucial to weight loss
3. Give your dog vegetables as treats
Some dogs go nuts when they are offered any semblance of “people food;” use this to your advantage! Veggies are a great treat to offer, and many dogs love the crunch these filling (but low calorie) options provide. Make sure to avoid anything from the Allium family: onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives. These can cause anemia in dogs. Otherwise, most veggies are safe and healthy alternatives to high calorie treats. Try broccoli, carrots, or bell peppers the next time treat time comes around.
Duh, it’s a given. However, a daily walk may not be enough if you’re trying to slim your pup down. Find a high energy activity you can do with them: running, fetch, catching a frisbee, even getting them chasing something up and down a flight of stairs. Not only will they have fun, but they’ll help burn off excess calories and energy. It will also have the added benefit of getting you up and moving, as well as forming a closer bond with your best friend. If you walk your dog daily and they are still overweight, upping their exercise is an important step in weight loss.
Things like changing exercise routines or diets can cause stress and digestive problems that take some time to get used to - make sure to keep a supply of Bio-nihilator on hand in case all those new ideas cause an accident or two. Your dog doesn’t mean it, and they will thank you if weight loss helps them live a happier, longer life.