Go ahead and type a quick search into Google, you will be amazed at the number of people searching for diet tips. It is sad to say that a lot of people are really struggling with their weight, and in turn is also affecting their pets.
If you are like a lot of other pet owners who love giving the treats, we eat to our pets, what you are ultimately doing is assisting them to put on weight!
The Doggie Diet Tips I will be sharing with you here should not have your dog looking like what we picture they should look like which in most cases is quite a round 4-legged friend.
A dog that is fit and healthy should look a lot more like those dogs you may see on national Geographic channel, the wild dogs.
That look according to vets is close to the ideal shape we want for our domesticated dogs.
Having a dog that is carrying those extra pounds can lead to some major long-term illnesses some of which can ultimately lead to the death of your dog.
Some Veterinary studies have shown that dogs who are carrying some extra pounds will end up having a much shorter life span compared to those who are the ideal weight.
This is because, just like in humans carrying those extra pounds put a lot of extra stress to the heart, it will slow down their metabolism and will cause breathing issues.
So even though you think you are being kind to your dog by giving them these treats that you love so much you are really putting your dog’s life on the line.
In The Doggie Diet – Tips to Get Your Dog Back In Shape I will cover some great things you can put in place now to make sure your dog lives the happiest and healthiest life possible, and that’s something we all want for our 4-legged friends, right?
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The High Risks of Dog Snacks!
- Did you know that a one slice of toast with butter will give a Kelpie roughly a sixth of what is its daily calorie intake, that’s like two bags of potato chips to you?
- If you gave your dog one of the left-over sausages from your plate, that is like you sitting down and eating nearly two bars of chocolate.
- The biscuits we have just given Fido that we buy at our supermarket is the same as us eating a medium serve of hot, greasy chips!
My Dog Always Seems Hungry?
Thank goodness our 4-legged friends can’t stop at the shops on their way home from the office and grab a bar of chocolate, and neither do they think, jeez I have had a bad day I think I might just snack on a chocolate bar to make things better! If you really do care for and love your dog you have got to learn to resist those “I Love You, Please Feed Me A Treat” eyes!
If you have ever watched one of those nature programs on dogs in the wild, you will notice that they are natural scavengers and will eat just about anything – whether they are hungry or not.
So, the act of begging for food is something they have become experts at over time, and we only increase this behavior by giving them the treats we are eating.
I have had a lot of clients, family and friends say to me “But I Only Give Them Treats Every Now and Again”
The only every now and again habit will only make things makes things worse for you and your dog.
In the dog training and behavioral world, we refer to this as “Variable Reinforcement”
I relate it to people in the same way as someone playing the slot machines at the Casino. The odd win you might get makes up for the losses you have had!
The only way to address and fix this problem is for everyone who has anything to do with your dog must learn that they are never to give treats when eating.
And if you have young children in your family who love to walk around while snacking on treats, don’t let your fur baby follow them all around the house acting like a vacuum cleaner.
Every different breed of dog and sometimes different dogs of the same breed will have varying amounts of food they require daily.
Never be alarmed if your dog seems to have a small appetite, if they are eating that amount daily you have no need to worry.
What I will recommend is seeing a Vet immediately if they suffer a sudden loss in appetite.
The Dog Diet – Start Them Early.
In the 50 years I have worked with and owned dogs I firmly believe that a chubby puppy will become a fat adult!
What this can lead to, especially with breeds that are known to suffer from joint and hip problems, also know as hip dysplasia (Giant Breeds, German Shepard, Rottweilers) is that they a lot more susceptible to develop this if you are overfeeding them.
With busy households it is sometimes very easy to over-feed your dog. You may have given them breakfast in the morning just before going to work and then the kids gave them breakfast just before going to school, this gets repeated in the afternoon and before you know it your dog is being fed 4 times a day!
The ‘Did You Feed The Dog” chart is great for making sure this never happens and something so simple is being used by 100, 000’s of households across the world with great success and I have recently just published an article outlining how successful it has become in managing the overfeeding of our dogs which you can check out here.
My suggestion to you is to feed your puppy the minimum amount suggested on the feed type you have chosen.
Watch your puppies body shape as they are growing, and when you take your puppy in for their vaccination ask the vet to check their weight.
Have you ever had a time when your dog has refused to eat, and you have then tempted them with some of your foods or treats?
Of course, you have, it a natural this for loving pet owners to do, however what you are teaching them is to become a fussy eater.
A dog that continuously eats human food will tend to overeat and eventually become overweight.
If your dog continues not wanting to eat over a 24-hour period, I will highly recommend taking them to a vet and have them checked out.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Overweight?
I have talked to so many people who think a quick search on Google will give them the correct answer to this!
You type in “Correct Weight for Breed” and this table of one size fits all appears.
This cant be used! Why? Because every dog, regardless of breed are individual and need different diets to suit.
How do we know when we are looking a little on the large side? By looking in the mirror, and it is no different for your dog (No they won’t be looking in the mirror)
You will be looking for things like are they developing a bit of a tummy or pot-belly? Does your dog have a visible waist? Can you feel your dog’s ribs?
If your answer is no to any or all of the above, then it is probably safe to say its time to put them on a bit of a Doggie Diet!
Did you know that an overweight or chubby dog is usually at least 20% overweight!
What Do I Do Now?
OK, you have decided after reading to here that your dog or puppy probably falls into the “Chubby” category.
You will need to firstly start by taking them to the vet.
Why a trip to the vet first? While, increasing the amount of exercise on its own will be helpful you will need to firstly make sure to have a full medical check-up just to make sure that they have no medical conditions that could be worsened by increasing their exercise.
Also, your vet will recommend a dog specific calorie-controlled diet for the safest and most effective way for you chubby one to shed some pounds.
You could also check with the local vets in your area whether they run weight control clinics.
I have a few in my area and all of them are free and what they do is help to make sure the diet is working. A lot like “Jenny Craig” for dogs!
They also monitor that the excess weight isn’t coming off to quickly as this can cause more problems.
I Keep a Food Log For My Doggie Diet.
Now you may not want to get this involved in your dog’s weight loss journey but many of my clients swear by a food log.
Basically, you are using this to record everything your dog eats, including those table scraps and treats that chubby has eaten for a few days.
What this shows us is all the extras your dog is getting.
Remember, a dog that seems of their food is probably still dreaming of sausages and chocolate!
If a Dog log seems a little to much work you could always check out our easy to use Dog Food Feeding Chart.
Jenny Craig For Dogs!
You now have your calorie-controlled diet from your vet and in this you will be shown how much you should be feeding your dog on a daily basis.
Understand, this diet will be for the target weight, not what your dog is weighing right now.
Some of the best advice I can give you regarding your Doggie Diet is to always weigh out the food daily, especially in the beginning.
So many dry diets (kibble) will come with measured serving scoops, but it is very easy to overfill these.
Saffron, who is my 2-year-old Mastiff and Narla who is my 12-Year-old Black Labrador still get fed 3 times per day.
By feeding your dog’s up to 3 times a day what you are essentially doing is reducing their hunger. Just make sure you don’t go over what has been set out as their daily recommended amount.
If you really don’t have the heart to remove treats from their diet, then make sure you remove this amount from their daily food ration.
Whenever I give my two treats, I always make sure they are healthy treats and some of the best I have found are apples (You must remove the seeds as these are highly toxic to your dog), carrots and flavorless rice cakes.
A thing to remember is that if you have decided that you are not going to use one of the recommended “Calorie Controlled” foods but are just going to give your dog less of what you are already doing the diet will more than likely not be as successful or quick to achieve the ideal weight.
You could also look at getting brands that advertise as a “Lite” diet and feeding them a smaller than recommended amount which is normally about 10 – 15% less than the current weight.
A lot of these “lite” diets are really designed to help your dog maintain a healthy weight and not for weight loss.
If you have decided that this is the method, you want to try, and after a few months you are seeing no noticeable change in your dogs weight you might want to consider using a diet plan from your vet.
Don’t just think of dog treats as food. Going for walks, playing games, or simply having cuddles are all treats in your dog’s eyes and the best reward with this type of treat is the bond you are building with your dog.
Going To a Dogs Gym?
Wile a walk or run for us is sure to burn some calories, dogs are extremely active animals by nature so trying to achieve the same as a “Human Gym Workout” will be almost impossible, unless of course you are a marathon runner!
To simply just increase the amount of exercise your dog will be getting is a great start, this alone is not going to be enough.
When you decide to start your dogs new exercise program start off slowly and be especially careful if this is an older dog, particularly when the weather is a bit warmer.
If you are starting your older dog on a weight loss journey, they should probably see a vet first.
Ideally, and if you have the time try to get your dog out at least 2 – 3 times a day.
Take them somewhere you could possibly take them off their lead and start to bring in some active fun-time like fetching a ball or a stick.
A gentle amble down the street on a lead is not going to burn off those excess calories.
You can also increase their activity at home. I have a few different toys for my two where I can hide treats, however, always remember if you are going to use these to take away the number of treats used from their daily food intake.
Narla and Saffron both have a few options that they highly recommend in doggie language, which I have listed below for you to have a look at.
Reaching Our Goals?
As I said earlier in this article most dogs that appear chubby are somewhere between 10 – 15% overweight
For example, a dog that weighs in at 30-kilogram(s) may be 5-kilogram overweight, and a 10-kilogram puppy could be 1.5-kilogram(s) overweight.
Most vets will tell you that a healthy and safe rate of weight loss is roughly 1% per week.
With that taken into consideration, in the example above the dog weighing in at 30kg should be losing about 1.5kg per month, and the puppy about .5kg per month.
I can feel a confusing feeling, am I correct? If the above doesn’t quite make sense, try seeing a vet with a weight clinic as part of their practice.
If you have gotten this far it is safe to say you and your dog have agreed on a target weight?
Let’s say congratulations are in order and your dog has reached their target, what next?
The next step is to visually have a look at your dog’s shape, remember I asked earlier on, can you see a waist? Can you feel the ribs? Well, if you are still finding that a no, continue with the doggie diet.
The biggest thing to remember when all the hard work has paid off and your dog is back in perfect shape and weight, is not to fall back on old habits., even though your pet is probably more active now than it has ever been.
There is no harm in increasing your dog’s feed a little, maybe by 5 or 6% however if you do this make sure to continually check your dogs’ weight every few weeks just to make sure the weight is not creeping back on.
Once your dog has gotten to this ideal weight you could also look at one of the “Lite” diets I mentioned before which are ideal to help maintain a healthy weight if correctly fed.
I Have Done Everything and The Diet Still Isn’t Working.
Just like humans some dogs no matter what the diet or exercise plan is just can’t shed those pounds.
Vets have pills and supplements available these days to help with this.
But as your vet will tell you these are only a helping hand to losing weight and should only be used for a certain amount of time without causing problems. So, a doggie lifestyle change is still very important.
There could be some mild side effects (such as diarrhea) however this could be especially helpful where weight loss is critical to help a medical problem.
All dogs are different, just because your dog isn’t losing weight as quickly as you expected on the diet provided, it could be that your dog has a slower metabolism and as such burn’s calories a lot slower.
It could also be that your dog’s daily food intake is more than your dog’s energy needs and will need to be reduced even more.
If everything is still not working, then you may want to have another chat with your vet but check that everyone else in the house is sticking by the rules first.
It only takes one person who “feels sorry” for the dog and is cheating, and in my experience its usually the kids, to wreck the whole diet!
If this is the culprit just explain to them that they are putting the dog’s health at risk, and we want them around with us for a long time!
Doggy Treats That Work.
Because I have always given my dogs carrots, cucumber, apples, and rice cakes as their reward treats from a puppy, they love them.
The biggest mistake people make, even when feeding this type of healthy treat is that they feel it must be a substantial amount for it to feel like a treat for the dog.
As a rule, I have always made a treat about the size of my thumb nail, and that is no different when I am training other people’s dogs.
You can also use their kibble as a treat if you are using a dry food diet, just remember what ever you give them as treats throughout the day will need to be taken from their daily intake.
CONGRATULATIONS on reading this, you have now got all the information and tools in making sure your dog or puppy remains healthy, active, and happy for a long time to come.
If you would like any further help or guidance with your dogs weight please leave your comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Remember, “May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”.
Mark & Saffron.
Founders of Our Dogs World 101.