You’d think that by now, I would have learned my lesson. One of my closest friends was almost lost because I made a random comment when I saw her dog the first time in months. The dog had absolutely ballooned since then. (I blurted, “OMG! Carly, what happened? My friend was so fat that she didn’t speak to me for several months. It seems that people don’t know fat dogs exist!
When it comes to fat dogs from strangers, I can usually keep my mouth shut. Recently, however, I attended a puppy social class with Boone, my new puppy. I saw a Labrador that weighed in at 50 pounds. This class was for puppies less than 20 weeks of age. That itch was all I could feel. I said “NO!” and told myself to not say anything. But when the Lab owner asked Boone how old she was, and I politely inquired about her pup’s age, the itch just burst forth from me. “How much does your pup weigh?” I asked. And I replied, “She’s huge!”
The owner laughed and said, “Oh, yes, she is going to be big,” “Both her parents are more than 100 lbs. “She’s just huge!” But she wasn’t just large, she was obese!
Everywhere dogs are present, at the dog park, pet supply store, or dog training class, I find myself channeling Oprah Winfrey/canine nutrition proponent, and saying (but only inside my head) “Your dog’s fat!” Your dog is also fat! Your dog is also fat!
Look, I’m overweight, too. This is due to conscious choices that I make. I know what my consequences will be if I eat too many calories or don’t exercise enough. Our dogs do not have this understanding. Their food intake, exercise access, and ultimately their weight and condition are entirely up to us. It’s not our fault if our dogs become overweight. Period!
Stand still with your dog and gaze up at him. From this perspective, what is the shape of your dog’s body? It should be able to see the shoulders and waist with indentions, but not appear straight. (c)Whole Dog Journal
What’s the big deal if my dog is fat?
Why should I care? How did I become the fat-dog sheriff of my town? I find it so frustrating that people allow their dogs become overweight.
Here’s how: Dogs that are healthy and maintain a healthy weight are less likely to develop diabetes, kidney disease and other life-threatening conditions. Being slim can help older dogs with arthritis stay active and ambulatory for longer periods of time. Studies have shown that dogs with a lower body mass suffer fewer injuries to their bones, muscles, and tendon than dogs who are overweight. They also live an average of two years longer than overweight dogs.
It’s not uncommon for older dogs to be overweight. If your dog is less than a year old and already weighs more, you are doing him a disservice. If you make a puppy grow heavier, it is almost like giving him the gift of developing painful arthritis.
What should you do if your dog is overweight? You thought it was a silly question.
1. Receive a thorough, honest assessment about your dog’s health. Schedule an appointment for your dog to have their annual health exam. Let your veterinarian know you are concerned about your dog’s weight.
Friends and family have heard me say that their dogs are often overweight. I’ve admitted to them that it happens quite often. Their first reaction is always “Really?” “Really?
Many veterinarians are reluctant to bring up the topic with clients. This is probably why most people feel defensive. If you are open to hearing the vet’s opinion and are willing to listen, you might find out that she has been keeping her true opinions about your dog’s health to herself. Ask her a second question if she is hesitant or unsure. “Do you think that he should lose some weight?” He would be happier if he had lost weight.
2 Set a goal and record a baseline. Get an exact weight for your dog using the scales provided by your vet. It is important to note the date and weight. A cloth tape measure could be used to record your dog’s height just behind his front legs. This will show you where his “waist”, or the place where his ribs are, should be.
It is unlikely that you can determine your dog’s ideal waist size, but your vet should be able to give you an estimate of your dog’s ideal weight.
3. Your dog should lose 3% to 5% of its body weight each month or 1% each week. A 50-pound dog should lose approximately half a pound each week or 2 pounds per year.
4. Feed your dog fewer calories. Your dog’s “resting energy requirement” (RER) is the amount of calories she should be consuming to maintain her ideal weight. Add 70 to that number.
Imagine a 100-pound dog. But, the dog should be around 90 pounds. Ninety pounds divided with 2.2 equals 40.9 kilograms Now multiply 30 by 70 and add 70
40.9 x 30 = 1 227 + 70 = 1 297
1,297. This is how many calories I should give my 100-pound dog, whose ideal weight would be around 90 pounds. Check out the calories in the food that you feed your dog. My dog is currently eating 380 calories per cup of food. Let me divide the calories that my hypothetical fat dog should consume by the calories in each cup.
1,297 /380 = 3.41 cups food
You say, “But wait!” “It says on the label that I should feed a dog weighing between 75 and 100 pounds, between 43/4 to 51/2 cups of food per daily!” What can you say? This is probably how your dog got overweight. Dog food labels tend to underestimate dogs’ RER. This is a sad truth. This is usually covered by the addition of “Adjust feeding to optimal body weight.”
My example is a lesson in itself: Take a look at the label of your dog’s food to see the calories and then calculate the RER of what you should feed him.
In some cases, this amount may need adjustment. Dogs with a significant excess of weight may be better off starting with an interim goal weight, rather than their ultimate ideal. Dogs who are very active may need to lose up to 1.4x their RER in order to maintain a safe weight loss rate of 5% per month. For puppies aged 4 months or older, you may need to double your RER.
This does not address the dog’s primary diet. You should reduce the amount of treats you give your dog by reducing the calories. Dog food is complete and balanced, while treats aren’t. You shouldn’t give your dog too many treats.
Dogs care more about how many treats they receive than the size. It’s better for them to get several small treats than one large one. You can reward your dog with small treats without giving them too many calories.
5. When you first start a weight-loss plan, weigh your dog at least once per week. To determine if your dog is too large to be picked up, you will need to visit your veterinarian.
You can allow your dog to lose weight slowly, but you should check in at least twice per month to ensure you are on the right track. If you only focus on your dog’s appearance and feelings, it’s easy for them to eat too much and cause damage. Your dog may have gained weight by the time you notice it.
6. Slowly increase your dog’s exercise. Regular exercise is an important part of any weight loss program. Exercise is good for your dog’s health. It not only burns calories but also builds muscle and burns fat, which will improve your overall condition. Your dog will feel healthier and more active as he loses weight. This will accelerate the weight loss process.
Don’t force your dog to exercise if he isn’t used to it. Begin with short, tailored sessions that are appropriate for your dog. For example, on-leash walks. As your dog becomes more comfortable exercising, the length of your session will increase. Do not exercise your dog until he becomes sore. Swimming, which isn’t weight-bearing, is a great exercise for dogs with joint issues, as well as other dogs. If your dog is more comfortable in the water, you can start slowly.
Before you start an exercise program for your dog, make sure to consult your veterinarian if your dog is old or has any health issues. It could indicate that your dog is not interested in exercising. You can test out pain medication to determine if your dog is avoiding exercise.
7. You should keep your eyes on the prize. More time with a happier, healthier dog. You may find your dog unhappy about the change in diet. He may begin to beg, counter-surf, or even go through the trash looking for extra calories. You can give your dog a carrot to munch on, but not fatty treats. As he starts to walk more, and his body feels lighter, his worries about his bowl will soon fade.
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight Whole Dog Journal.
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