Man’s best friend can also gain weight, leading to obesity if not managed appropriately, and potentially increasing the risk for metabolic abnormalities like diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. There is also fatty liver disease that you may need to worry about. Protect your pet from the complications of obesity by giving it any of these best dog foods for weight loss. You’ll be glad your pet is able to reduce its weight as this will translate to improved quality of life for your dog.
Best Dog Food for Weight Loss Buying Guide:
Picking the right dog food to help your pet lose weight can be tricky. While it’s easy to pick a low-calorie, low-fat dog food, sometimes you have to consider other things, too. Our comprehensive guide on how to buy the best dog food for weight loss should help you map your plan for effectively addressing your dog’s weight issues.
Is My Dog Overweight?
If you really want to know if your dog is overweight or not you really need to weigh your dog and then compare its weight with the breed’s standard. To give you an idea, we’ve listed herein some of the more common breeds of dogs and their ideal body weights.
- Chihuahua – not heavier than 6 pounds both for males and females
- German shepherd – 65 to 90 pounds for males and 50 to 70 pounds for females
- Golden retriever – 65 to 75 pounds for males and 55 to 65 pounds for females
- Pug – 14 to 18 pounds for both males and females
- Rottweiler – 95 to 135 pounds for males and 80 to 100 pounds for females
This is not to say that you really have to rely solely on the weighing scale to check if your dog is overweight or not. Here are some telltale signs that will tell you your dog may already be on its way to a serious weight issue.
- Difficulty ‘Feeling’ the Ribs
Ideally when you run your fingers over your dog’s chest you should be able feel for its ribs without any difficulty. If you can do this, then your dog is not overweight. However, if you find yourself having to ‘dig’ deeper or push harder with your fingers just to feel your dog’s ribs, then your canine friend may already be overweight.
- Absence of Body Form or ‘Definition’
If you look at your dog, you should be able to have a very clear idea of where the chest, tummy, and waist are. This is their body form or their body definition. If you look from above and you see your pet’s belly protruding from the sides you’re looking at a very obvious distention of its abdomen. If you look at your dog from the side and you cannot see the characteristic waist and abdominal tuck then your dog is definitely obese.
- Inability of Your Dog to Groom or Scratch Itself
If your dog cannot groom itself or even scratch itself, provided there are no known medical conditions that may prevent your dog from doing such things, then it is more likely that your dog is already obese. The extra padding of fat on its body prevents the optimum range of motion of the joints that even a simple act of scratching may already be too difficult for your doggie.
- Excessive Panting Even in Normal Situations
Try observing your dog how long it would take before it starts to pant heavily when you’re doing your daily walks. Does your hound begin to pant after a mile or is it after a block or two? If it is the latter, then there is a chance that your pet is already overweight. Of course, you’d have to consider the weather, too. If it’s too hot outside then you know that your dog will pant a lot faster than usual.
- Difficulty Moving About
If your dog doesn’t have arthritis or any other condition that might affect its mobility it should be able to move about with relative ease. It can hop onto your couch or won’t have problems getting up and out of its bed. If not, then there is a likely chance that your pet is overweight.
- Digestive Issues
While not necessarily a definitive sign of weight issues, it is a very common observation that overweight dogs tend to have constipation and gas more frequently than normal-weight hounds. This is especially true if your dog has no known medical conditions.
What Causes Dogs to Gain Weight?
There are many reasons why dogs can gain weight. While some are the direct result of chronic health problems, a great majority of the reasons are highly preventable. Here are some of the more common causes of canine weight gain.
- Too Much Food
The food we give to our pets contain calories. These calories come from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Ideally, there should be a balance between energy intake and energy output. In simple words, the amount of calories that your dog will consume should be commensurate to the amount of calories that it needs to perform all of its vital functions as well as other important activities of canine life. If there is substantially more calories that are taken in than the amount of calories that are utilized by your dog, then this excess calories will have to be processed in another way.
Excess calories, usually from carbohydrates in the form of glucose, are converted into fatty acids and glycogen. These are stored in the dog’s body so that, in the event that there is a need for energy and the next meal is still several hours away, your dog will have something to utilize for energy.
Unfortunately, what happens is that by the time the next meal is around, this stored energy has not been used up. Yet you are now giving your dog another serving of the same amount of calories in its food. Over time, this leads to excessive storage of fats leading to obesity.
- Too Little Exercise
In addition to giving too much food to our dogs, weight gain can also be caused by too little or no exercise at all. Remember what we said about energy intake equals energy output? Well, energy intake is the food while energy output is physical activity. If you cannot do away with giving your dog too much food, then you also have to increase its physical activity so that your dog will use up all that stored energy. Otherwise, you will really risk your dog gaining weight.
- Genetic Predisposition
Some breeds of dogs are genetically-predestined to gain weight over time. Experts say that American cocker spaniels, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, Labrador retrievers, beagles, rough collies, basset hounds, Norwegian elkhounds, dachshunds, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are more prone to gaining weight than other dog breeds.
- Chronic Conditions
There are also chronic conditions that can cause a dog to gain weight. These can include Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands leading to an increased production of cortisol. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is very common among Golden retrievers and Doberman pinschers and is characterized by lethargy, infection, hair loss, exercise intolerance, and weakness.
The Dangers of Obesity in Dogs
Just as obesity in humans can cause a variety of health problems, the same thing can be said of dogs that have greater-than-normal body weights. Here are some of the more common dangers of canine obesity.
- Increased Risk of Diabetes Mellitus
Having too much fat in the body can increase the risk of diabetes in dogs since the continued intake of carbohydrates only increases sugar levels in the blood. Since these carbs are not utilized by the dog’s body for energy, they are converted into fat and glycogen which further aggravates the obesity. Over time, the increased fat deposition leads to insulin resistance causing an increase in glucose in the blood which is no longer moved towards the cells. This increases blood sugar levels and is one of the hallmarks of diabetes.
- Problems Associated With Mobility
Having an unusually heavy weight puts strain and stress on the articular surfaces such as the joints, ligaments, and bones. It is like having a Grand Piano standing on a platform supported by toothpicks. The weight of the dog’s body can exert undue pressure on the joints leading to erosion of the ends of the bones and causing osteoarthritis. This leads to problems in mobility associated with inflamed and painful joints.
- Cardiovascular Problems
Having excess calories that are not used by the body requires conversion into fat and glycogen. The more calories not burned the more fat that is stored. These can lead to the deposition of fatty plaques or lesions in the inner walls of blood vessels causing stroke, pulmonary hypertension, systemic high blood pressure, kidney failure, and even heart failure secondary to coronary artery disease.
- Difficulty Breathing
When fatty pads accumulate on the chest wall, this restricts the movement of the muscles of respiration. Since breathing is largely a passive thing, the dog will have to exert more force to move air from the environment and into the lungs. The work exerted by the muscles of respiration alone will require considerable amount of oxygen which cannot be supplied adequately because of the channeling of oxygen to more vital organs of the body.
- Fatty Liver Disease
Obesity is one of the most important risk factors in the development of fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis. The other risk factors include insulin resistance, high fat levels, and high blood sugar all of which are present in a dog that is overweight or obese. The problem with fatty liver disease is that the liver loses its ability to metabolize a lot of the foodstuffs and chemicals that a dog consumes. Over time this leads to cirrhosis which can lead to ascites, liver cancer, and even end-stage liver failure.
- Reduced Immune Functioning
One of the most intriguing observations about obese dogs is that they are more susceptible to salmonella and canine distemper virus infections suggesting a faulty immune system secondary to obesity. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism behind this observation remains unclear. It is enough to say that obesity can significantly reduce a dog’s ability to fight infections. And this can have significant implications for its overall health.
- Heat Intolerance
Fat is an exceptional tissue when it comes to insulating the body in cold environments. Unfortunately, too much fat may not be good when the environmental temperatures are simply scorching hot. Obese dogs are known to be more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, heat stress, and heat stroke. This can lead to the sudden cessation of nervous system functioning in an effort to preserve whatever functionality is left from vital organs
- Increased Risk of Cancer
While the exact mechanism is unknown, obese dogs are known to have a greater chance of developing certain types of cancer but more particularly those related to the urinary bladder. There is also an observation that obese puppies are more likely to develop mammary tumors than normal-weight puppies.
- Problems in the Skin and Coat
Underneath the skin is a pad of fatty tissue called subcutaneous fat. Within the dermal layer of the skin are cells that are composed of fat globules. When there is excessive fat in the dog, there is a tendency that your dog will have issues with oily skin and increased number of skin creases. This can significantly increase the risk of skin infections.
What Makes the Best Dog Food for Weight Loss?
The right dog food for weight loss should have the following nutrient proportions.
- Below-average calories
Reducing the amount of calories that your dog is taking minimizes the tendency of the body to store the excess calories as fat. The question, therefore, is how much calories your dog is supposed to have so you will have an idea of just how much below-average calories really mean. For instance, if your dog should have 500 calories per meal, then a below-average calorie diet should be less than 500 calories per serving.
- Low to below-average fat
Too much fat in the diet can only add up to the fat that is converted and stored by the body from excess glucose. Since the problem with high-calorie dog foods is that there is a chance the excess glucose will be converted into and stored as fat, taking in more fat than necessary will only increase the amount of fat being stored. It is also important to understand that the amount of energy that a single molecule of fat contains is more than the amount of calories contained in a similar molecule of carbohydrate and protein combined. That’s how concentrated fat is.
- Above-average protein
Protein also contains calories. However, since proteins are unusually large molecules your dog’s body will have to burn more calories just to process proteins and break them down into amino acids. Energy will have to be utilized again to combine these amino acids into building blocks. Technically, increasing protein intake can help save amino acids necessary for building tissues since the dog’s body will inadvertently use some of the proteins for energy.
How Many Calories Does Your Dog Need?
Since one of the essential characteristics of a good dog food for weight loss is below-average calories, then you should know just how much calories your dog is supposed to consume. Here’s how to check for the calorie requirements of your dog.
- Take your dog’s weight in kilograms. You can use pounds but divide this by 2.2.
- Multiply your dog’s weight in kilograms by 70 and then multiply by the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) constant of 0.75.
- Multiply your dog’s RER by the appropriate multiplier depending on its classification to obtain your dog’s Maintenance Energy Requirement or MER.
The different MER multipliers include the following.
- To lose weight – 1.0
- To gain weight – 1.7
- Light activity or work – 2.0
- Moderate activity or work – 3.0
- Heavy activity or work – 6.0
- Neutered – 1.6
- Unneutered – 1.8
- Puppies aged below 4 months – 3.0
- Puppies aged above 4 months – 2.0
Let us say you have a 20-pound dog that you want to lose weight.
- 20 pounds divided by 2.2 = 9.09 kilograms
- 09 kilograms x 70 x 0.75 = 477.225 RER
- 225 RER x 1.0 (multiplier for weight loss) = 477.225 calories per day
This means you need to feed your 20-pound dog 477.225 calories per day if you want it to lose weight. The formula is a handy tool. But if you’re having problems, your vet can help.
Obesity in dogs is a serious issue. There are many health implications that can undermine your dog’s overall wellbeing and quality of life. By giving your dog any of these best dog foods for weight loss, you’re giving your furry best friend the chance to lead a more normal, healthier life.