Controlling your dog’s weight

Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the diet industry spends on advertising each year, maintaining a healthy weight is a simple concept for both you and your dog. If, on average, your dog uses more calories than he takes in, he’ll lose weight. If, however, he uses fewer calories than takes in, he’ll gain weight. So to keep your dog at an ideal weight you need to balance how much he eats with his activity level. The following guidelines on diet and exercise will help you control your dog’s weight or help your dog lose weight if he already suffers from dog obesity.

Exercise is a must

Your dog should get 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day, at a minimum. And don’t expect your dog to exercise himself by leaving him alone in the yard. It’s hard enough for people to exercise on their own, and they know it’s important. A long walk in the morning and afternoon along with a game of fetch or tug is enough to help your dog burn calories and keep his muscles lean and strong.

Don’t let your dog decide how much he eats

It’s hard to resist those sad eyes, but don’t let your dog beg you into feeding him more than he should have. Always measure your dog’s food, feed your dog on a schedule, and avoid excess treats, especially during obedience training sessions. As dog owner’s we like to spoil our canine companions. But food is no substitute for love and attention. If your dog is scrounging for food when you know he should be full, treat him to some extra play or grooming time.

Give your dog these healthy treats

Exchange the empty calories in dog biscuits for fresh green beans, carrots, apple slices, salt-free pretzels, plain pop corn, or chunks of banana. Some dogs may have trouble digesting certain fruits and vegetables, so you’ll need to try a few varieties to see which your dog likes best. Also, keep in mind that treats should make up no more than 10% of the calories your dog eats each day.

Be vigilant if your dog is susceptible to weight gain

Certain dog breeds, including Basset Hounds, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels, are more susceptible to weight gain than others. You’ll need to stay extra sharp to make sure these dogs maintain a healthy weight.

Medication for dog weight-loss as a last resort

If your dog is already obese and diet and exercise changes aren’t enough, there are now dog weight-loss medications on the market. They work to suppress your dog’s appetite and are meant to work along with proper diet and exercise.

As always when it comes to the health of your dog, consult with your veterinarian about your particular dog’s nutrition and exercise requirements, or before you make changes to them.