We’ve all given in to puppy dog eyes now and again. A nibble here, a crumb there. Though it may seem perfectly harmless to feed those hungry eyes once in a while, doing so can quickly lead to a bad habit with serious consequences.
Overfeeding your dog, or worse, feeding them ‘people food’ puts your pooch on a fast track to unhealthy weight gain. In fact, Pet Obesity Prevention guesstimates that some 57.9% of household pets fall in the ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ categories– that’s at least 35 million dogs.
Since this is the time of year to set resolutions, why not make it a point to help your dog shed a few lbs. in the coming months. From exercise habits to weight loss food products, below are some tips to aid your canine New Year’s weight loss goal.
Why Weight Gain Is So Dangerous for Dogs
There’s a high risk and high probability associated with canine weight gain. In fact, veterinarians report strong concerns that even though roughly 50% of their ‘patients’ are overweight, less than 20% of pet owners seem to agree.
Canine obesity is a dangerous, even deadly, disorder that can manifest as any of the following:
- Doggy diabetes
- Damage to joints, ligaments, and bones
- Heart disease
- Higher risk of tumorous cancer
- Lung disorders
- High blood pressure
- Immune dysfunction
Weight gain can also take years off your dog’s life. Studies show that dog’s with healthy body weight can live up to two years longer and healthier than those who qualify as overweight.
Intake: Feeding Habits to Adopt (and Avoid)
We are what we eat. Our pets are no exception. When looking for foods to help your dog lose weight you’ll need to start with a high quality dog food. Read labels carefully and assess for things like a high protein content. Avoid low calorie foods and instead focus on foods with more protein and fat to help keep your dogs feeling full longer. This will also promote the utilization of their own fat stores for energy. But whatever you do, understand that avoiding carbohydrates is a must!
Also, instead of ‘free choice feeding’ stick to measured meals no more than two times a day. It will prevent your pooch from over snacking throughout and the day. Talk to your vet about the amount or use an online dog food calculator to get an idea of how much to scoop out each feeding.
Output: The Importance of Exercise
The equation for weight loss is no secret. The number of calories they intake needs to be less than the number of calories burned in a day. One of the absolute best ways to accomplish this is with regular exercise.
January is National Walk Your Pet Month, making this key health indicator all the more important if you want to help your dog lose weight in the new year.
A walk around the block at a slow, steady pace is also enough to lift spirits and provide necessary stimulation from all the sights, smells and sounds.
Though how far you need to go will ultimately depend on the size, age and breed of your pet. HealthyPet.com recommends watching your dog while you’re walking and keep an eye out for heavy panting and slowing down. Check in with your vet if you begin to see a steady decrease in the distance your pooch can travel on foot.
In short, humans aren’t the only ones who should prioritize health and weight loss as their New Year’s resolution. Help your dog make 2017 its healthiest yet with these tips!
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Magnus Brath