Become a Contributor

Dog Diets for Weight Loss

Dog Diets for Weight Loss

Is your dog gaining weight at an alarming rate? Definitely a reason to worry, as that might put him at the risk of several health problems. How about starting off by switching his daily diet with a proper weight loss diet?
Leena Palande
Studies show that about 40% of America's pet population is overweight. A healthy and active pet can lead a pain-free life, but an overweight pet―especially a dog―is more likely to develop diseases like diabetes and arthritis. Being in normal weight range is essential for their health. As in the case of humans, exercise and balanced diet play an important role in the health of dogs.

With aging, dogs become less active, and decreased physical activity promotes weight gain. Breeds like labrador retrievers, English bulldogs, beagles, dachshunds, pugs, dalmatians, and cocker spaniels naturally gain weight. It is your duty, as the owner, to control the weight of your pet dog by providing him proper diet and ensuring that he gets enough exercise.

Diet Tips for Dogs

#1: You should only provide your pet dog the food it needs; not the food it wants. Regular checkup, prompt medication, balanced diet, and regular exercise can help in maintaining dog's weight and overall health.

#2: Watch how and how much your dog eats. If your dog is one of those who naturally regulates the food intake, then you need not worry. If your dog is taking in more calories than he needs, then you will have to make some changes to his diet and exercise regime.

#3: Take your dog for a walk at least twice a day and increase the distance gradually. Similarly, increase the playing time and the pace of other exercises gradually. Running and playing with another dog proves to be a great exercise, when it comes to weight loss. Cut down on each meal and, if possible, provide two smaller meals rather than one big meal. This will also help maintain normal blood sugar level.

#4: Dog food industry has created a wrong picture of the "eager eater" for their customers. To avoid dog obesity, it should be borne in mind that healthy dogs don't necessarily have to be 'dog treat'ed every day. You should never try to entice your pet to eat if it isn't eating. Good quality food and plenty of water is what your pet needs. Let your pet eat when it wants, don't force it to eat when you want, or what you want for that matter. Ideally, you should feed your dog before you cook and eat. Eliminating table scraps, which are often high in fats and sugars, and minimizing treats can make a lot of difference.

Healthy Weight Loss Diet for Dogs

If your dog is hesitating to exercise and if you notice increasing laziness, then you should consult your vet. If your vet confirms that your dog is overweight, then you can feed him less and/or you may switch to special weight-reduction diets. After consulting your vet, you may opt for a good weight loss supplement. Generally, traditional diet and exercise are more than sufficient. Never feed your dog 'junk food' (leave that for humans) and remember, treats should never make up more than 10% of his diet. Vets recommend occasional use of low-calorie commercial dog treats.

Depending on the breed, age, physical activity, overall health, and what your dog eats, design a special low-fat/high-fiber diet for him. Avoid ready-to-eat raw foods available in market. Instead, you can give your pet fruits, like oranges, apples, pears, etc., and vegetables, like celery, carrots, broccoli, parsley, spinach, etc., to eat. This raw food diet is naturally rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Raw meat should not be included in this diet. Similarly, chocolates, sweets, desserts, spicy food, and fried items are also best avoided.

For pets diagnosed with kidney failure or heart failure, your vet may suggest a low-protein diet. But in normal cases, a diet that contains proportionate amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates (a balanced mixture of 40% meat, 30% fiber, and 30% starch) and other nutrients is considered the best. Instead of buying top dog food brands, you can even try preparing food for your dog on your own.

If you are concerned about your dog's weight, consult your vet first. Let the vet find out the underlying cause of the same. If hypothyroidism is the cause of excess weight, which is in fact a very common cause, then it needs to be corrected. Just remember, you don't need to provide lot of food to your pet to express your love; food is not love! The quantity required will vary from breed to breed, with several other factors coming into play. So, it is quite possible that feeding instructions printed on labels may not apply to your dog, and therefore, it is in your best interest to consult a vet to know the right amount and type of food for him.