This year, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct already the12th Annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Surveybeginning October 9, 2019. You can take this survey here. Health problems associated with obesity can shorten the life of your pet. The most common consequences of obesity include diabetes, kidney problems, heart disease, pancreatitis, disc disease, arthritis, joint disease, and cancer. Unfortunately, the number of overweight dogs grows every year. Therefore we would like to raise awareness about the risks that obesity brings and how to help our four-legged babies gain healthy weight again.
Be a responsible dog parent - the health and nutrition of our dogs is entirely in our hands. It is us who controls the balance between the amount of food and activity.
If your dog needs a little weight loss, here are some tips on how to do it:
- Find out what your dog's ideal weight and ideal caloric intake are
First, you need to know what is your dog's healthy weight. It's best to consult your vet before you start with a diet plan. You can also take a test to find out your dog's ideal weight here.
- Diet plan
Once you know your dog's ideal weight, adjust the caloric intake accordingly. In addition to controlling the caloric intake, the ratio of carbohydrates to fats and protein is also essential. A proper weight loss diet should be high in protein, low in carbs and moderate in fat.
- Treats count as well
As with humans, every little dietary sin counts. Choose healthy treats, and remember to include them in your dog's daily caloric intake. Fortunately for dogs, the satisfaction of reward is much more than the size. Training treats should have just a few calories each. Choose not only the healthier types of treats but also their size. If possible, divide the large treats into several smaller ones. Alternatively, use fruit or vegetables as training rewards such as baby carrots, banana, or different crispy vegetables.
- Measure the portion size
During the weight loss program, it is essential to measure everything your dog eats. If the portion size you should ideally feed is too different from the one you have fed so far, slowly reduce the portion size by 5% to the target amount. If the change is too fast, it will lead to a change in metabolism and slowing of the weight loss process. For the same reason, it is also recommended to divide a daily dose into two portions. Not only will the dog feel less hungry, but it can also boost metabolism and weight loss will be more effective. More frequent meals may burn even more calories. Actijoy smart dog bowl ensures that every serving is the same. It also includes a Feeding Assistant to help measure the portion size using an acoustic signal. No need to weigh, just listen to the sound when filling up the bowl.
- Exercise & play more
Dogs need to exercise daily to improve their quality of life. It is recommended at least 60 minutes a day to keep the dog at a healthy weight. However, this may vary depending on the breed and your dog's age. You should increase your dog's daily activity to burn the extra pounds. Take your dog more often for walks and make them a bit longer every time. As you walk, engage games that support dog activity such as play fetch, hide and seek or take your dog to a dog park where they can play with other dogs. Trying a new walking route is also a great adventure that keeps your pup stimulated both physically and mentally. Monitor how much exercise your dog has daily. Again, it's important to avoid rapid change and add the activity slowly. Dog activity tracker might help you to track your dog's daily activities and see the improvements.
- Recheck weight every two weeks
Keep an eye on the weight and write it down. Check every two weeks if the weight has changed. If nothing has changed after a month of your effort, consult your vet. The ideal weight loss rate for dogs is 1-2% of their total body weight per week. Download the free Actijoy Healthbook and record the weight of your dog. Every month the Healthbook will automatically remind you to recheck your dog's weight.
- Be consistent
If you choose the path of a weight loss program, it is crucial to stick to the plan. Your dog will gradually get used to the size of portions and increased activity. When they lose some extra weight, it will also add more optimism and joy to their life. All family members should share the effort. If there are more of you to feed your dog at home, always take measures to avoid double feeding. Dogs perfectly know how to pretend that they haven't eaten yet. The best way to prevent double feeding is to record every meal that the dog ate manually. Alternatively, you can get an Actijoy Buddy Pack. Everyone in the household will have an overview of your dog's activity and food & water intake during the day in the multi-owner friendly app.
- Post diet plan
As soon as your dog has an ideal weight, remember that there is nothing worse than returning to old habits. Your joint efforts would be in vain. For long term weight management is essential to stick to healthy habits, avoid table scraps, in-between meals, and unhealthy snacks, control portions, and provide regular exercise.
If your dog still doesn't lose weight even if you follow the steps mentioned above, consult it with your vet. Your veterinarian should perform blood tests to see if there is an underlying health condition that might trigger weight gain.