We’re such hypocrites, we know. We bemoan our portly pooches while we sneak seconds at dessert. It seems so mean. But at least we care enough to cut back on the milk bones when last year’s collar starts getting snug. This is important stuff – those extra pounds can put up to 40% of dogs at risk for osteoarthritis, heart disease, respiratory conditions, heat and exercise intolerance, and (we can hardly even say it), shorter lives.
The Woof Reporters’ past tips on exercising with your dog and cutting calories were a good start, but your dog may need more help. For that gentle little push every pudgy pup needs, we turned to renowned veterinarian and author Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M. Read on for her doggie diet tricks from The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook.
First Things First. If your dog’s got you trained to believe she’s hungry all of the time or that you can’t eat a meal without offering her just a taste, break your training and stop responding to her cues to overfeed her.
Portion Patrol. The average adult dog requires one 8-oz cup of dry dog food per 20 pounds of body weight per day. If you’re feeding more than that, cut back.
Three Square. Divide her food into three meals a day. This way she can eat more often without eating more. You could give her breakfast, lunch and dinner if this works with your schedule or breakfast, early supper and a bedtime snack.
Sack the Snacks. Strictly limit the biscuits and other treats. Many dog treats are loaded with calories and it’s easy to lose track of how many your dog is getting a day, especially if you’re using them for training or for comfort while you’re gone. Set a sane limit on treats (such as two small ones a day) and make sure your children, significant other, children and dog walker are aware of the limit. Try raw baby carrots, a bite of an apple, or a single piece of kibble as a treat instead of a salty, fatty dog snack.
Veg Out! Supplement her kibble with low calorie vegetables and fruits. Add just a tablespoon or so of veggies to her kibble at a time until you’re sure her system tolerates them. Many dogs enjoy carrots (cooked or raw), green beans, winter squash, and raw apple. Fresh or frozen vegetables are fine, but stay away from canned because they are heavily salted. The vegetables and fruits will add fiber to help your dog feel full.
Go Low Cal. Gradually switch to the lower calories version of her kibble. Almost all dry foods these days come in a “reduced calorie” or “less active” formula. She’ll be able to eat the same amount of food while getting fewer calories. Always make the dietary changes gradually, mixing increasing amounts of the new food with the old food over a period of ten days to give her system a chance to adjust.
Move it. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Walk or play fetch with her for a minimum of an hour every day. She’ll be healthier and happier and so will you.
Thank you to Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M. for the tip, excerpted from her book The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active Through Every Stage of Life.
Read some of our past tips to help keep your dog at a healthy weight
Pups & People get Moving with PetFit.com
Helping Your Dog Lose Those Extra Pounds