Babies and puppies look so cute chubby!!
And it is a real temptation to treat your sweet dog all the time. Our Halia comes with those soft brown eyes and a knee rub and it’s so hard to say “no”.
But the dangers of obesity are as real in our pets as they are in humans!
Carrying extra weight increases the probability that they will develop painful and sometimes debilitating conditions. Heart disease and increased blood pressure. Difficulty breathing. Decreased stamina. Heat intolerance. Decreased liver function. Osteoarthritis and Type 2 diabetes.
Just as America is getting fatter so veterinarians are reporting more obese pets than ever are showing up in their clinics and the trend does not appear to be slowing
While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through attentive diet changes and increased physical activity, there is some damage that will remain for life, and the longer the excess weight is on the body, the more severe the damage to the body will be. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs can place significant stress on the body.
Have I got your attention yet?????
The most loving thing we can do for our overweight pet is to put them on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that our pets will have the best opportunity for a life that is full of activity and good health. A lifetime study of Labs found that dogs with an ideal weight lived about 2 years longer than their overweight counterparts. Now that is reason enough to keep my precious pooch at optimum weight!
So now that I realize I need to keep my dog from gaining weight – how do I go about doing that?
The first step is to have a serious conversation with your veterinarian about a quality reduced-calorie food that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed. Halia is on one one of these foods and is thriving!
And how about those snacks that all our dogs crave?
Treats and snacks should only make up 10% of a dog’s daily calories. And there are lots of healthy and natural low fat treats that your dog can have and not gain weight.
You can skip the store-bought snacks that are high in fat, sugar and often preservatives, and try offering your dog some vegetables.
Give them a cut up baby carrot, a frozen green bean, some broccoli. These have virtually no calories, and dogs don’t care if you’re not giving them something meaty and fatty. They just want you to give them something.
Dogs are open to all foods, potentially. So vegetables can be a great snack option for your dog.
Try fruits, too. Banana slices, berries, watermelon and apple slices, (with no seeds, of course).
Steer clear of grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate and anything with caffeine. These are toxic to dogs.
Other snacks are air-popped popcorn with no salt or butter, and plain rice cakes broken into little pieces.
Besides healthy treats we can share lots of loving gestures with our pet without worrying about them leading to weight gain. Like kids, dogs become bored easily and can turn to undesirable behavior to relieve that boredom. Doing fun activities together not only strengthens your bond, but also provides physical and mental stimulation that will make your pet happy and less prone to mischief.
Play fetch, throw the Frisbee, go shopping together in a pet-friendly store, play a game of hide-and-seek, go to the beach and splash in the surf. Visit an off-leash dog park where your dog can romp with other dogs, go on a bike ride together, visit a wide-open field to let your dog run off leash and chase squirrels. Play in the sprinklers, the leaves or frolic in the snow, play tug-of-war with an old sock, or blow bubbles for your dog to chase.
You get the idea – just move with your pet. A simple walk around the neighborhood with all it’s new smells can be super fun too.
Teach your dog new skills. Both you and your dog will enjoy the benefits of better communication and the increased bond and mental stimulation between you that results from time spent together teaching, and learning.
Practice these tips and you will be on your way to getting your pet on the road to recovery before it’s too late. We all want that!!
Our dogs are still just as cute. Now they will live longer too and that, in my book, is a win/win!!!!