How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

If you ever had to go through a diet regime to shed off those extra pounds, then you know how it feels when your four-legged friend has to go through the same thing. Losing weight is a difficult task and requires a lot of patience and discipline.

At first, you may think that your dog is the only one going through the battle, but in fact, you will have to suffer with them as well. That means, taking him or her for walks and runs as well as restraining yourself from letting them eat off your plate. This may sound easy, but a lot of owners cave-in and end up giving their canine companion a piece of their hamburger or french fries.

In order for your dog to successfully lose weight, you will have to work together as a team. Before diving into all the strategies that you will need to help your four-legged friend, let’s explore why it’s vital for your dog to lose weight.

Did you know that every 5 pounds above your dog's ideal weight can put him or her at risk for developing some serious medical problems? When your dog is overweight, he or she is prone to medical conditions such as heart disease, type two diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, joint pain, and some forms of cancer. Since dogs live on average about 10 to 13 years, having these conditions can severely shorten their lifespan. Heavy dogs tend to be more sluggish, aggressive, and prone to medical problems.

Making The Connection

Dogs are extremely sensitive to losses and gains in weight, and just a couple of kilograms can cause a wide array of life-shortening and disabling health problems, such as: difficulty breathing, hypertension and heart disease, diabetes, poor immune function, liver disease, and arthritis. Unfortunately, there is a problem with owners not being able to promptly recognize their dog is considered to be overweight. After all, if dog owners report being aware of the health risks associated with their dog weighing too much, but the total amount of overweight dogs has still risen in the last few years, then the problem must be owners not being able to recognize if their dog is too heavy. Some statistics to consider:

  • A huge majority (63%) of owners think that their pet is a healthy weight, while less than 10% perform the recommended monthly weight check, and 30% of owners say they’ve never weighed their pet before.
  • Only 15% of owners can admit their dog is an unhealthy weight. 

This means that while overall awareness of health problems in overweight dogs is gradually increasing in pet owners, the amount of dogs being diagnosed as overweight is still going up since owners are unaware of exactly when a dog can be labeled overweight, what causes it to occur, and how to recognize it. After diagnosing your dog as overweight, what should you do? 

Lucky for you, we here at Dope Dog have some tips and tricks that you can use to help your dog lose weight.

What to Feed Your Dog?


When it comes to weight loss, the main issues tend to be the ingredients in your dog's food. You want to feed your dog more protein and less carbohydrates and fats. The protein can help build lean muscle and reduced levels of carbohydrates and fats can lower blood sugar level, therefore, reducing the chances of your dog getting diabetes.

A lot of people think that all fats are bad, but that’s not necessarily true. You can feed your dog the right type of fat to help him or her lose weight. For example, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can promote weight loss, shinier coats, and boost your dog's immune system. Veterinarians recommend giving 1 to 1.5 mg of fish oil per pound of body weight daily for your dog. If your dog has health problems like kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, allergies, inflammation, arthritis, or immune issues, then 3 mg per pound of body weight would be adequate. Cod liver oil contains vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3 that provides a wide range of health benefits for your dog.

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When you purchase dog food, make sure to look at the ingredients. You don’t want to get something with a lot of by-products, corn, or syrup because these factors can contribute to weight gain.

Related: 4 Reasons Your Dog Should be Supplementing With Salmon Oil

Measure Everything Your Dog Eats


Once you purchase your dog food, look at the back of the package to see how much you should feed your dog. The most common mistakes owners make is filling up the dog bowl and letting the dog decide how much he or she wants to eat. This can lead to significant weight gain because some dogs will keep eating even when they are full.

It’s best to feed your dog twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. For example, if the directions say to feed your dog one cup per day, you can split that into half a cup in the morning and a half at night. That way, your dog will have an adequate amount throughout the day, and since it’s smaller portions, they can digest it easily.

Feed Your Dog the Right Treats


You can also assist your furry best friend in dropping some extra weight by keeping an eye on and possibly lowering their treat intake. Just like with their regular meals, quality and quantity are essential. Of course, nobody wants to say no to their dog when they beg for treats. Treats can be useful training aids, and it's also lots of fun to see how excited your dog can get from treats! However, it's essential to keep a close eye on the number of treats your dog consumes every day and their caloric impact. Treats need to be factored into your dog's daily calorie allowance, and your dog's treats shouldn't make up more than 10% of their total daily calories, maximum. 

 

Treats can potentially be a huge source of health problems and weight gain. If you overdo it on the treats with your dog (allowing their treat intake to be over 10% of their daily food intake), you may reverse the positive effects of the balanced diet you've committed to. Many veterinarians recommend making treats out of single-ingredient, natural foods like fresh vegetables and fruit. Celery, baby carrots, green beans, blueberries, cucumbers, apples, and bananas can all be great treats and can be useful for your dog's health (unlike mystery-meat treats). Remember to use apple and banana in smaller amounts as treats because they have high sugar content. 

 

Your dog probably loves peanut butter- but make sure it's only awarded for special occasions and is portioned out in limited amounts. Peanut butter contains a hefty hundred calories in every tablespoon! Moreover, you should make sure that the peanut butter you're using doesn't have any Xylitol in it, which is a substance that is toxic to dogs. If you're looking for a lighter treat that your dog will enjoy just as much, try plain canned pumpkin- canned pumpkin only contains five calories per tablespoon, making it a less loaded treat. 

 

Of course, it's essential to take a step back and think about exactly why you're giving your dog treats. Every dog owner wants to elicit the happy reaction a treat brings to their pet. Our bond with our dogs is an exceptional situation, and we want to see them wag their tails and smile. However, that same joyful response can be gotten with healthy treats and smaller portions. Dogs get the same enjoyment from a smaller portion of a treat as they can from the whole thing or a larger handful. There are also many other ways you can bond with your pet and show your affection; it doesn't have to be just about food. Think about playing with your dog more, cuddling with your pup, or giving it extra praise for doing a trick. 

It can be tempting to give your pup an unhealthy treat. After all, who can resist those puppy eyes? Fortunately, there are ways where both parties can win. The right treats such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, apples, or bananas can be a delicious and nutritious snack. With these treats, you won’t have to feel guilty because your dog won’t gain a large amount of weight. The treats are healthy, filled with vitamins and nutrients, and low in calories.

Related: Chow Down! Top 10 Best Fruits Safe for Dogs

Exercise


Some dog breeds, such as Huskies and Border Collies, will require 1 to 2 hours of extensive exercise per day while other more relaxed breeds, such as a Shih Tzu or Maltese, will only need 15 minutes of fresh air each day. The general rule is that you should walk your dog at least 30 minutes twice a day. This can help keep your dog's weight regulated and to defuse all their active energy, so they won’t misbehave in the house. Plus, getting some exercise with your companion is healthy for you as well, so you might as well treat both you and your best friend for something special every day.

Check with your vet about the kinds of activities depending on the breed of your dog. Other factors to consider include gender, age, and current physical condition. Make sure to introduce any novel activities slowly and gradually to avoid injury. Unless your dog has been trained explicitly for or progressively introduced to the activities you want it to participate in, make sure to leave the extreme sports to your weekend hours. This is because the too-vigorous or repetitive activity can place your dog at risk of joint issues. Moreover, keep in mind weather conditions (such as the hot sun) can put extra stress on your furry friend if the activities you have planned are outdoors. Over-exercising in the hot sun can cause heatstroke and burnt paw pads.  

 


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Reduce Their Stress


If your dog is constantly stressed or has severe anxiety, it can cause them to overeat. Just imagine what you are like if you are stressed. When you see a bag of potato chips and a deadline, you are most likely to be crunching away. After all, food tends to trigger parts of our brain that elevates both serotonin and endorphins, which can relax and enhance your mood. With this in mind, your dog will most likely react the same way when they are anxious.

The best thing to do is to find ways to relax them. For example, Dope Dog has CBD compounds in their dog treats that can help alleviate stress; therefore, promote relaxation and decrease the chance of overeating from anxiety.

Related: Should Your Pet Take CBD Every Day?

Try Breaking Up Meals

It can be helpful to feed your dog smaller portions. One diet strategy is to take your dog's total daily ration and divide it into several parts. Several small meals will need more energy to digest, which burns calories. Feeding your dog's small meals every four to six hours can help keep its insulin levels up, which lowers appetite spikes and keeps your dog's stomach full. After your dog's metabolism starts to rev up, excess pounds melt off. 


Weight Loss (And Maintenance) Is A Long Game


If you think you are overfeeding, visit with your vet to formulate a weight loss schedule depending on the appropriate calories so that your dog doesn’t lose weight too quickly or unhealthily. Developing consistent, good habits is the best weight management strategy. 

 

If All Else Fails


If you have followed all these tips and tricks but your dog is still overweight, then it’s best to bring him or her to the vet for a physical examination and bloodwork to find the underlying cause.

 Lethargy and weight gain can be symptoms of diseases such as Cushing's Syndrome and hypothyroidism. Cushing's Syndrome, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, typically is found in older dogs and can cause hair loss, frequent urination, and muscular weakness. 

If your dog suffers from type two diabetes or low thyroid levels, their metabolism could be suppressed, leading to easy weight gain. Fortunately, the right medication can help remedy the situation.

Another thing that your veterinarian can do is prescribe a special weight loss diet for your dog. This would entail a specific type of dog food that is low in calories but also has other nutrients and vitamins to help your dog lose weight efficiently.

Related: 4 Reasons You Should be Feeding Your Dog Sweet Potatoes

 

Conclusion


Dogs are very similar to humans. If they overeat without the proper exercise, they can gain weight and develop chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and much more. Dogs are like family, so it’s only natural that you want to make sure that your dog lives a long and healthy life. Make sure to give your canine pal healthy food, daily walks and runs, and plenty of love and attention.

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Don’t think about this weight-loss journey as a chore. Instead, change your mindset and look at it in a positive way! Since your dog will need your help to get through this, just see this as an opportunity to work together as a team, strengthen your bond, and to live a healthy lifestyle together. Don’t forget to check out the Dope Dog store for all your dog's CBD needs.