Many people are struggling, but it can be a problem for dogs, too: being overweight. The belly of a dachshund touching the ground, the golden retriever that resembles a side table, or the chihuahua that no longer fits through the cat flap. In many cases, what is bad for humans is also bad for dogs, which certainly goes for being overweight.
As dogs gain weight, they may be struck by bad health. Major health problems include joint pain, cardiovascular diseases, back pain, as well as stiffness due to the lack of physical exercise in the long run. So, what is the best way to get your dog back to its right body weight? Once again, dogs are not all that different from humans, because the answer is simple: eat less and move more. Is medication or desexing the cause of being overweight? Losing weight is also advisable in this case, but please consult your vet first.
Healthy body weight
Many breeds and crossbreeds make it hard to tell what the ideal body weight is for each and every dog. However, there are several ways to check that your dog weighs enough, or too much:
- Put the dog upright and place your hands on the dog’s ribcage without putting on any pressure.
Healthy body weight: you can feel the ribs without them being prominent
Overweight: you do not feel the ribs
- Put the dog in front of you and look from the top onto its back
Healthy body weight: you can clearly see your dog’s waist in relation to its chest
Overweight: the width of the chest continues to the waist
- Look at the vitality of your dog
Healthy body weight: for instance, your dog moves by itself if you grab the leash
Overweight: your dog does not move to go out for a walk until you persist
There are several ways to check the vitality of your dog, of course. Generally speaking, older dogs are not as vital as puppies, but extra weight affects the liveliness of your dog.
Healthy body weight: After a long walk, your dog quickly recovers and resumes breathing in a normal manner
Overweight: even after short walks and at normal outdoor temperatures, your dog is panting for breath for quite some time
How to reduce food intake
Less food does not mean you have to cut meals in half at once. That is because dogs do require certain vitamins and minerals, and giving too little food will not help. The dog food label will tell you the amount of food required for a dog of a certain weight. However, such advice goes for dogs with a healthy body weight. But what if your dog weighs 15 kg and should be weighing 12 kg? In that case, you should measure the amount required for a 14 kg dog. Feed this amount over two meals a day and walk your dog for longer and more often. Once the dog has reached the weight of 14 kg, reduce the amount of food as is required for a 13 kg dog. Continue until your dog has reached the desired weight.
Another way to let your dog lose weight is to reduce the amount of food by 10%. When your dog stops losing weight after a while, reduce the amount of food again by 10% until the animal has reached its ideal weight.
Sensation of hunger
If your dog is fed on dry food only, it may feel peckish between the meals. In that case, mixing dry and wet food may be an option, since wet food has a much lower calorie value than wet food. Dry feed contains about 400 kcal per 100 gr and wet food less than 100 kcal per 100 gr.
Working for food
The following method is a nice way to slow your dog’s eating habit and make the animal more active at the same time. Make two holes in a plastic bottle, which is dry on the inside. The holes must be big enough to let dry food through. Fill the bottle with (part of) the dog’s meal of dry food, and return the cap. The dog will have to roll the bottle to release the dry food. Because it can no longer gobble up its food and needs more time to eat it all, the dog will sooner be satisfied.
No food for human consumption
No matter how tempting it may be to feed the sweet begging dog with something from the dinner table, such ‘human food’ for dogs is not recommended. They love cheese and sausages, but these are really high-calorie products for a man’s best friend. If you really want your dog to lose weight, two meals of dog food a day are more than sufficient. But if you want to spoil your dog anyway, then try for instance an organic Yarrah dog snack.
In short: walk more and eat less. Good advice for the dog and sometimes also for the owner.