Experience has shown that dogs fed a healthy, fresh diet, based on the natural wild diet, will usually maintain their body weight and condition almost automatically. In the domestic situation, varying the quantity of food offered can moderate the dog's weight and help you in your struggle in controlling weight in dogs.
Unsuitable diets can lead to obesity through an excess of certain components at the expense of others. Furthermore, cravings can be induced by certain ingredients of manufactured diets, leading to overeating. There is also the human element, in which owners feel the need to feed their dogs several meals a day and offer them table scraps as well. This exceeds the dog's healthy intake each day.
It is recommended that an obese dog should be fed a natural, fresh diet.
See more about the natural, fresh diet here
It is wise to remove carbohydrate foods from the diet altogether, until a correct weight has been reached.
Excessively thin dogs should be checked by a vet for worms, thyroid excess, or pancreatic insuffiency or other metabolic or endocrine problems. In the absence of these treatable diseases, they should be fed on a natural and fresh diet.
Read more here on controlling weight in dogs and the natural foods that you should be feeding them
Causes of Dog ObesityAuthor: G Haas
Dog obesity should be a concern for all dog owners because it can be detrimental to their health. Finding the causes of dog obesity should be at the top of the list. An overweight dog can encounter any of the following diseases: stress upon his body, arthritis, circulatory problems, pancreatic disorders, diabetes, liver problems, joint pain and other health issues.
Before I go into the causes of dog obesity, you need to determine if your pet is overweight. Here is a quick tip you can use to determine if your dog is overweight. Run you hand along his side. If you can not feel his ribs, it is time to start a weight reduction program. If your dog does not have a waist, that is another indication that your dog is overweight and need to begin a weight reduction program.
Is your dog eating too much?
As with humans, when we eat more than we burn off, we tend to gain weight. So it is with your dog. If you should feed him more than he can burn off, he will also gain weight. This is usually the major cause why a dog can become obese or overweight.
The dog food package has a recommended amount to feed your dog. Remember, this is an average and does take into account your dogs breed and metabolism. It also does not take into account his life stage. Dogs are fed differently during each life stage. Get to know these stages.
You as his owner should be able to know your pet's metabolism. Based upon this, you feed your pet accordingly. However, if this amount should be more than he needs, he will gain weight. Be sure to give your pet the weight tip mentioned above on a regular basis. Keep a close eye on him.
Is He Getting Enough Exercise?
Besides reducing his calorie intake, it is important to increase the calories used. An exercise program is just the ticket. In fact, it may be more important than feeding him a diet food.
The exercise program will need to be tailored to your dog taking into account the condition of his muscles, joints, heart and respiratory system. Choose activities that are appropriate for your dog and do not over do it. Begin slowly and work up to higher levels. Be sure to rest if you should see signs of fatigue or heavy panting. Generally, leash walking from 20 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week is a great way to start.
Exercise is a great way for your dog to build his muscles and increase mental stimulation, taking his focus away from food.
Does He Have a Medical Condition?
There are certain medical conditions that can cause obesity, and any dog with a weight problem should be examined by your veterinarian prior to instituting a weight reduction program. The veterinarian will determine if there is an underlying cause for the obesity or if there are other medical conditions present, which could complicate weight reduction. The veterinarian is also a valuable resource in helping you establish a weight reduction program specific for you and your dog. Certified veterinary nutritionists are also a good resource.
When starting a weight reduction program, your veterinarian can help you determine a realistic weight goal and timeline. It is important to understand how long the process may take. In general, a good goal to aim for is 1-2% of the body weight per week. We do not want the dog to lose weight too fast; since rapid weight loss increases the likelihood the weight will come back after the weight reduction diet is stopped.
Eliminate table scraps and reduce treats
Table scraps are often high in fats and sugars, and thus in calories. Feeding your dog before you cook or eat may help decrease his begging. If you cannot resist giving treats, choose a treat that is made for dogs and is low in fat. Examples include:
- Air-popped popcorn, non-salted and non-buttered
- Cooked green beans
- Baked or frozen canned diet food (Cut small slices of canned food and bake them at 350ºF until crisp. Store in refrigerator. Alternatively, simply freeze slices of the canned food and feed it frozen to your dog.)
- Commercial low calorie dog treats
Treats should never make up more than 10% of the daily intake. New toys are often a good substitute for treats, as is exercise. For dogs who like to be groomed, a good brushing can take the place of food treats. If you ask your dog, she will probably say your attention is the best treat she could have.
Weight Reduction Program
If your dog will be placed on a weight reduction program that calls for him to continue eating his current food, it is generally recommended that the amount of food fed daily be cut back by 20 to 40%. For example, if your dog is normally fed 3 cups of dry food, he should now be fed in the range of a little less than 2 cups to 2-1/2 cups. After 3-4 weeks, the progress is evaluated. It may be necessary to cut the amount fed even further.
Weight reduction diets allow you to feed the usual amount of food (unless you are severely overfeeding), but still feed less fat and calories. For example, if your dog is normally fed 3 cups of dry food, the recommended amount of diet food will probably be about 3 cups also.
Feeding your dog more often during this time will keep hunger under control. Generally, feeding 2-4 small meals throughout the day is recommended. Also feed your overweight dog separately from the other pets to prevent him from eating their food. Feeding your dog before you prepare a meal or eat may also be helpful.
Assure adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids
If you are feeding less of your dog's regular food, it also means your dog is receiving fewer nutrients. The added exercise may also produce a greater demand for nutrients. A vitamin/mineral supplement may be helpful to guarantee your dog's body has what it needs to stay healthy, alert, and active. Until recently, many of the weight reduction dog foods were deficient in fatty acids, and supplementation was necessary. One of the consequences of decreased fatty acid intake is a dry, flaky hair coat. To keep your pet's skin and coat healthy, it may still be necessary to supplement your pet with a fatty acid supplement. Many high quality weight reduction dog foods contain fatty acids, to alleviate this problem. They would also be formulated to contain the adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Be sure to validate with your veterinarian the food selected has sufficient vitamins and minerals before adding any supplements into your pet's food.
Here are some tips to help you monitor your dogs progress:
- Keep a written log of food intake (including all treats), exercise, and weekly weight. Weigh your dog weekly on the same scale at the same time of day. (Most veterinary offices will be more than happy to have you come in and use their scale.) It is sometimes helpful to plot out this information (dates and weights) on a graph.
- Remember, you may hit 'plateaus' in which your dog seems stuck at a certain weight. This is common. Do not despair, but continue with the weight reduction program.
- A good way to help you enjoy your success is to take a 'before' diet picture, several during the weight reduction process, and then one at its conclusion. You will be amazed at the difference.
- Make appointments with your veterinarian every 2-4 weeks to make adjustments in the weight control program.
Once the weight is lost, the last thing we want is for the dog to regain it. To be sure that does not happen, continue weighing your dog as you gradually increase food intake. You can either feed more of the weight reduction diet or change to a diet that is less restrictive. Do not start feeding free choice (the bowl of food is always there). If weight is regained consistently for 2 weeks, or more than 3% of weight is regained in one week, go back on the diet program. Remember, exercise needs to continue after the weight is lost or pounds will start to accumulate again.
When the desired weight goal has been reached, congratulate yourself and your dog. You will be amazed at how much younger and livelier your dog seems to be. Enjoy the longer life you will be able to have with your happier, healthier friend!
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