My Dog is Overweight. Now What?

Having weight problems isn’t just for humans – excess weight can affect our pets as well. Dealing with an overweight dog can be difficult, especially if your dog is reluctant to exercise. However, failing to recognize that your dog’s weight problem is serious may have severe health complications. If you care about your dog’s well-being, you need to take action! Here are a few tips that will help you to deal with your dog’s weight problem.

Consulting Your Veterinarian

Your veterinarian is the absolute best source of information on how to deal with your dog’s weight problem. Most dogs should have a veterinary checkup at least every other month, which means that your veterinarian will already be familiar with your dog’s likes, dislikes and past health conditions. Talk to your veterinarian about developing a diet and exercise plan that will best fit your dog.

Choosing a Low Calorie Dog Food

Low or reduced calorie dog food is often marketed as being a good choice for dogs with excess weight. But don’t let the marketing fool you! Many “reduced” calorie dog foods simply contain less protein and more carbohydrates. Since protein is very calorie-dense (and more expensive than carbohydrates), many pet food companies will simply add less protein to their low calorie formulas. Even in low-calorie formulas, you still want to make sure that there are at least two protein sources in the first five ingredients. Ideally, the first ingredient in the formula should be meat-based. Lean meat, such as salmon or skinless poultry is a good source of protein without adding as much fat. This type of formula is ideal for feeding to an overweight dog.

Introducing Exercise

If your dog is overweight, they may already be experiencing problems such as a lack of energy, lethargy and a loss of interest in daily activities. To get your dog to exercise, you will need to provide motivation. Try using exciting new toys, or a fat-free snack to get your dog outdoors. Most dogs love to play, and will get their recommended amount of exercise during 1-2 hours of playtime each day. Another great way to get your dog to exercise is to start a walking routine. At a set time each day, take your dog outdoors for at least a 30 minute walk. Try to make the walk at the same time each day, which will make your dog more comfortable with the new routine.