What to do if your dog is overweight

    According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP... it actually exists!) 43 percent of all dogs are overweight and 10 percent of all dogs are obese! That makes more than half of our dogs overweight or obese!. An overweight pet is more prone to heart problems, poor skin condition, lameness, and more serious illnesses, like diabetes. A study actually details how pets who free feed live an average of two years less than pets with limited calories.

    Many owners contribute to pet obesity through good intentions. Some pets are fed more frequently or get bigger portions when one person is not in charge of feedings. Treats are also huge contributors to this problem. The feeding frequency of treats is usually out of control and the caloric content is off the charts. Carrots and green beans are great substitutes as low calorie treats and slightly smearing them in plain yogurt does the trick. To further control caloric intake, reduce or eliminate canned food and just feed dry. Also, you may switch to a "reduced fat" dry food. Again, to enhance, just sprinkle a teaspoon of plain yogurt.

     INTAKE vs OUTPUT: The feeding amount and food type should match the activity level of your dog. First determine the optimum weight of your dog. This can be achieved by research and some common sense methods by considering the size, frame and a visual determination. You could also consult with your vet. Weigh your dog so you have a starting point.  Make daily exercise a priority and a routine to include two or more brisk walks for 30-45 minutes each and add a bonus activity to fetch ball or Frisbee or swimming or just socialization at a park.

    DOG WEIGHT CONTROL TIPS

    • Pets who are fed controlled portions of food live about two years longer than those who have unlimited access to the food bowl.
    • Designate one person in the family to feed the pets. Feed two small meals instead of one large meal daily. Don't forget the yogurt!
    • Replace high calorie treats with healthy alternatives like green beans or carrots. Don't forget the yogurt!
    • Increase your dog's activity with two brisk walks daily. It will help both of you shed the excess weight. Don't forget to play and socialize!
    • If you have a vet's office within walking distance, you can visit weekly during your walk to weigh in for results.

     

    FACTS ABOUT CHOOSING DOG FOOD (THE RIGHT STUFF)

    Labels: Learn to read pet food labels. Look over the ingredients to see what is in the bag you intend to feed your pet. You should see quality ingredients listed first. The higher the item on the list, the more prevalent it is in the food, (i.e. the first ingredient is the largest ingredient while the last few ingredients on the list may only be in trace amounts). The first few items on the list should include meats, vegetables and some whole grains.  

    Life stages: Select the right type of food for your pet's stage in life. Puppy formulas are necessary for the growing pooch, while adult formula is for the mature dog. If a puppy is fed a food meant for an adult dog, they will not be eating the right amount of nutrients to sustain the rapid growth of the small dog's body. Senior formula foods are meant to provide proper nutrition to older dogs whose needs are different than puppies and adult dogs.

    Switching foods: Switch your dog's food to a new brand slowly. Unlike humans who can eat a variety of different foods in one day, dogs can become ill when their regular pet food is replaced with a new brand of food. To switch your dog to a new food you should plan on continuing their current food and gradually add in the new food while decreasing the old.

    Protein: Satisfy the carnivore in your dog. Dogs by nature are carnivores and depend on the protein found in meats to maintain protein levels. Proteins in the body replace dead tissue and repair injured tissue.  While whole grains are also healthy in smaller doses, they should not be in the top 4 or 5 ingredient spaces. Instead, meats such as chicken, turkey, fish, beef, lamb or bison should be the forerunners on the ingredient list. This will also determine the protein content of the food.

    Treats: While you can be feeding the healthiest pet food available, feeding lots of treats and human (food such as table scraps) will void the balanced food. Our dogs rely on us to feed them properly. Many of us feel guilty if we don't share our table scraps with man's best friend when in the end we are only doing them harm.

     

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