Obesity, it seems, is not just a health concern among humans. Even their best friends can have the same issues as being overweight and obese which can then spell trouble in other aspects of the dog’s wellbeing. The point is that having weight that is substantially greater than what the body is designed to support can really pose problems in a dog’s overall health. And while you may be thinking of weight loss supplements as well as weight loss diets, hold that thought since there are more effective and safer ways to help your dog lose weight. Here are 5 tips to get you and your pooch started.
Cut Down on the Kibble
Perhaps you already know that the key to effective weight loss is actually a combination of calorie reduction and an increase in physical activities. As such the very first tip is to cut back on the dry kibbles that you’re giving to your pooch. Dry dog food actually has more calories than wet dog food. It’s not necessarily just the calories from proteins and fats but mostly from carbohydrates.
All macronutrients – carbs, fats, and proteins, contain calories. However, the macronutrients whose calories are most often stored as fat are carbohydrates. The calories from carbs are used primarily for energy. Unfortunately, if your pooch is not spending that much energy, then the excess calories from carbs will have to be converted to fat and glycogen. Now, your dog’s food already contains fat. Adding fat from unused carb calories can really lead to weight issues in dogs. Check out our dog food guides for a better understanding of the right food for your dog:
Use Interactive and Puzzle Dog Toys
Since we’re already talking about reducing the amount of calories that you’re giving to your pooch, you might want to give them interactive toys. This accomplishes 2 things. First, since the dog food can be hidden in these toys, your pooch will really have to work for it. Even if your pooch will be able to solve the puzzle on how to get the dog food out of the toy, it will be in substantially lower amounts than usual. The less food the less the calories consumed.
The second is that your pooch will be very preoccupied with solving these puzzle and interactive toys that it may not necessarily feel hungry more frequently. Again, this translates to less calorie consumption and a generally healthier wellbeing.
Get Them All Pumped Up
You may dislike going to the gym but pooches absolutely love it. Technically, you don’t need to become a member of a pet gym, although there are now plenty of gyms designed specifically for pets. There are even fitness programs for pooches which you and your pet can enroll in. We’re not saying that you should get into these programs, but they will be worth the try.
If you have the resources, you may want to invest in pet exercise equipment such as a canine treadmill. Now if you have a swimming pool in your backyard, you may want to get a treadmill that can be placed underwater. This is the same setup used in many pet physiotherapy clinics. The treadmill allows dogs to really run with all their might. And since a great proportion of the dog’s body is submerged in water, then the buoyant force of the water can minimize if not eliminate impact forces on the joints of your pooch. This helps provide for a pain-free exercise regimen for your pooch. Plus, your body will have to move with greater force to overcome water resistance. Now that is an excellent way to pump up your pooch’s activities. Of course, you can always use a treadmill the ordinary way.
The whole point is to make sure your pooch is getting at least 45 minutes of intense exercise at least twice a week. In other words, you really have to find time in your tight schedule to bring your pooch to the park, the mountain trails, or even to the beach to run, jump, and even to play, although playing alone may not be as effective in losing weight as a well-defined exercise program for pooches.
Rethink the Use of Treats as Rewards; Use Fun Instead
In relation to our efforts of reducing the overall calorie intake of your pooch to help address its weight issues, you might want to rethink the way you observe positive reinforcement in dog training. Nothing can really match the advantages of using positive reinforcement in dog training. However, if you think that the only way to accomplish positive reinforcement is by giving treats, then you clearly miss the point of using positive reinforcement.
The whole idea is to use something that a dog really loves as a motivator for it to continue doing a desirable behavior. And if you know that dogs are very social animals, then you know that they also love to be cuddled, to be hugged, and to be petted. These can also be excellent substitutes for treats.
Offer Veggies as Treats
If you really cannot do away with treats as a form of positive reinforcement, may we suggest using healthy veggies instead? You can also opt for fruits, but our main concern with fruits is that majority of them contain a lot of sugar in the form of fructose that can translate to more calories for your pet. Baby carrots, cucumbers, celery, green beans, and even broccoli are excellent choices for doggie treats. These are yummy and contain almost negligible calories so you’ll never have to worry about adding to your pet’s calorie intake.
You can also give fruit slices like apples and watermelons since they contain fewer calories than most other fruits. Apples are packed with vitamins and minerals, too while watermelon is great for hydrating your dog.
Helping your dog to lose weight can be tricky. Some may even think that the best way to do it is to use weight loss supplements. Under no circumstance are you supposed to take this route. The best way of ensuring a more effective weight loss for your pooch is by engaging it in increased physical activity and reducing its overall calorie intake.