Your love for your dog may lead you to feed him a treat every time he begs for a snack, but giving food as a form of affection can backfire when it causes your pet to become overweight or obese. Long-term studies show that dogs that are kept at their healthiest weight live almost two years longer on average than their overweight counterparts. Once you've had a vet like those at Baywood Animal Hospital assess the exact healthiest weight for your dog based on condition, breed, activity level, and size, you'll need to use a few of these tricks to keep them at that weight.
Get the Entire Family Involved
A lack of weight loss or steady weight gain in a dog is often caused by a single family member feeling bad for the pup when it begs. In order for a dog to lose weight or stay at a good current weight, everyone who regularly interacts with it must understand the diet and the reasons for it. It may take some time and supervision to make sure everyone is following the same plan, but there's little point to limiting a dog's food until you're sure a child or adult isn't feeding it extra behind your back.
Add in Green Beans
Dogs are carnivores, and high quality meat-based foods help them stay at a healthy weight. However, subbing in a low calorie but high protein meal replacement like green beans for one of your dog's meals each day can jumpstart weight loss. Show dogs are often fed one meal of quality kibble and one meal of mostly green beans to keep them within a tight weight range during the show season. Talk to your vet before replacing meals with a filler like green beans to ensure your dog is healthy enough for the switch.
Many dog treats are high in calories, even if they're marketed as being good for weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. While it's a good idea to avoid human food in general for dogs that need to lose or maintain weight, air popped popcorn and bits of dog-safe fruits and vegetables are the exception. These kinds of low calorie snacks allow you to stick to your training and reward routines without accidentally increasing your dog's weight.
Track Weight Loss and Gain
Buying an accurate pet scale and keeping records of your dog's weekly weight and condition are the best way to adjust your feeding schedule as needed. The arrival of summer and subsequent increases in exercise may result in your dog needing a little more food, while winter will likely mean a reduction in daily feeding amounts. With a little extra care and some calculations, you can feed exactly the right amount each day to keep your dog at their ideal weight.