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Obese and overweight dogs are a big concern in the United States and Canada – and in most other places where commercial dog food is sold. In the U.S. it’s estimated that over 40 percent of dogs are overweight or obese. I have a fat dog, too, so I can say unapologetically that it is usually the owner’s fault when a dog is overweight. If you feed a dog too much food, free feed, give too many snacks, or if your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, your dog will become fat. Dogs gain weight for exactly the same reasons that people do.
Controlling Food Intake
Aside from increasing your dog’s exercise, which is generally a healthy thing to do, there are two ways of managing your dog’s diet so he loses weight. If your dog needs to lose a small or medium amount of weight, you can usually cut back on his current dog food slightly (and reduce or cut out the snacks) to help him lose weight. Dogs can safely lose about 2 percent of their body weight per week. This is not much weight so you won’t see a dramatic change in your dog’s appearance. If your dog weighs 50 pounds and he loses 2 percent of his body weight, that means he would lose 1 pound per week. (Adjust the amount you aim for him to lose each week as he loses. Two percent of 49 pounds is only .98 pound.)
Switching To A Weight Management Food
The other way to help your dog lose weight applies if your dog needs to lose a medium or large amount of weight. In that case you would do well to choose a weight control dog food to help him lose some pounds. Weight control dog foods should still provide your dog with all of the nutrition he needs, though they are typically lower in fat. They have fewer calories than typical dog food. Many of them use carbs to help dogs keep a full feeling so they won’t be hungry on fewer calories. They may contain vegetables as a source of carbs and fiber. They usually have a higher amount of fiber than ordinary dog food. But they should still contain plenty of good meat protein. Keeping these things in mind, look for weight management foods with good quality ingredients, just as you always do.
Reduce or cut out the snacks. Instead of high-calorie snacks you can give your dog pieces of carrot or apple as a treat. If your dog still seems hungry when you’re trying to help him lose weight, you can add some green beans or another vegetable to his meals. Veggies like this will help your dog feel full without adding fat or calories. It’s an old trick used by dog owners and breeders for years and years to help dogs lose weight.
Measuring Food Intake
You can also help your dog lose weight by measuring his food instead of guessing how much you are feeding him. Keep him on a good feeding schedule. And if you are free feeding, switch to set meal times. Remember that the feeding amounts suggested on dog food labels are just suggestions. If your dog is getting too large (or losing weight), you should adjust the amount of food you feed.