The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that nearly 54% of cats and dogs in America are overweight or obese. Health weight for pets will increase their lifespan, a better quality of life, and will be healthier. Pets that are overweight are prone to joint problems and a harder time getting around.
Dogs ribs should feel like the knuckles on the back of our hand, we should be able to feel them, but they shouldn’t be prominent. Most dogs should also have a defined waist and tummy tuck- there are some breeds that vary from this, so be sure to check the breed standard for your dog to know what to expect from them. Your pets shouldn’t have excess fat around their chest or tail, and should be able to move easily. Another way to gauge if your pet may need weight loss is to take them for a walk- your pet can’t walk for half an hour, they may need to lose some weight.
If you suspect that your dog is overweight, always start by opening up a conversation with your vet. They will be able to check and ensure there are no concerns for underlying health issues before guiding you on an appropriate exercise and diet plan! If weight loss is needed for your dog a great place to start is with the food bowl. Switch from free feeding to timed meals, and ensure that you are measuring out the appropriate amount at each meal. When measuring, make sure that you are looking at the ideal weight for your dog on the package and feeding according to that guideline and not the weight that they are currently at. Also, remember to level the measuring scoop- mounded scoops mean extra calories!
When treats are given- remember to count those towards their daily calorie intakes. You can give a little less regular food at mealtime or look for healthier alternatives that may not have as many calories. Many ‘training treat’ options are low in calories so these are great replacements for the big treats we have sitting on the counter when we are looking for weight loss but still wanting to give them their treat as we leave the house.
The next step is to increase exercise. Set goals for your walks, go a little further each week! Your dog’s stamina will begin to grow as they feel better and can move more. Walks get their heart rates up and helps to burn off those calories, and keep their minds active as they take in the sights and smells of the neighborhood.
It may be tough at first with some of these changes, but stay committed and your pet will thank you as they begin to feel better and live long and happy lives!
Explorers: Try out new games and walking trails to help your pet start moving! Not only will the extra movement be good for their health, but it will help build your bond and relationship together! Your pet is going to love the extra attention and will love playing their favorite games together with you.
Growers: In addition to playing new games like our Explorers, look at the type and volume of food your pet is getting. Cut back on their portion size to help reduce calories or use their kibble as treats for your training times.
Challengers: Now that you’ve increased your games and activity time together and cut back on their calories, now it is time to increase the workout challenge. Try a new hike, a longer walking route, or play multiple times per day. They are going to have so much fun with your challenges!