Owning a dog can be one of life’s great joys, but it is also a great responsibility — it's up to you to make sure that they’re happy and healthy. A big indicator of overall health is your dog’s weight. Here's a simple test you can do to test if your dog has a weight problem: Rub your dog’s chest and if you can’t feel each rib, this is likely a sign that your dog is overweight. While this isn’t necessarily serious, it is probably time to make some dietary changes.
Not all weight gain is food related. To lose weight, your dog may require a very specific diet, or even medication, but there’s no way to tell without consulting a vet.
“If you have an overweight dog, the first step is to have a conversation with your vet to make sure there’s not a medical reason for it.” explains veterinarian D.r Walt Ingwersen. “There can be issues like hypothyroidism.” Don’t wait to get professional opinion.
Once you and your vet have worked out a new feeding regimen, it’s time to hit the grocery store. You’ll be looking for a dog food labeled “light” or “lean”.
A “lean” dry food should have less than 9% fat, and wet food should be less than 4%. “Light” dry food should have less than 3,100 calories per kilogram, wet should have less than 900. If you see labels promising “less fat” or “reduced fat”, take the extra time to find out exactly how much fat reduction is in each bag or can.
Dogs don’t often react well to sudden changes in their diet, so a drastic switch from one type of food to another may have messy results. Introducing a new food should be done gradually, over the course of a week. Each day start mixing more of the new food in with the old, until eventually it’s all been replaced.
If your dog’s new food isn’t getting results, the problem may have more to do with exercise. “Food won’t solve the whole problem. Like people, it’s also about activity and lifestyle.” says Dr. Ingwersen.
A happy and healthy dog is an active dog. So, no matter what diet your dog is on, if they aren’t getting daily walks, plus regular adventures in the backyard and/or dog run, weight loss simply won’t be possible.
“Calorie in, calorie out is a pretty simple equation.” Dr. Ingwersen explains. “If the dog is only needing so many calories in the day and you’re feeding more than that, they’re going to gain weight. If they’re working and moving all day, then they’re going to lose weight.”