Do You Have an Overweight Dog?
It is now estimated that 45% of all dogs in the United States are classified as overweight or obese. Veterinarians report that 50% of the dogs they see are overweight and that only 17% of those pet parents think they have an overweight dog. Overweight dogs are categorized with that status for different reasons and factors. The two most common contributing factors are diet and exercise. When a dog is overweight it taxes their system, causing issues for organ functioning and mobility. Therefore, it is a critically important issue to address right away. A recent study showed that a dog maintaining ideal body weight will live 2 years longer on average (and with significantly less disease) than their overweight counterparts. Furthermore, an overweight dog is more prone to conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Lung disorders
- High blood pressure
- Immune dysfunction
- Cancerous tumors
In this post we will talk about the most common reasons for dog obesity and practical solutions for weight reduction and subsequent weight management, ways to prevent dogs from becoming overweight and solutions for dogs that may already be at that stage.
Even though you may not think you have an overweight situation, your dog can benefit from a re-evaluation of his/her’s nutritional intake and needs, ideally every 1-2 years.
WHY IS MY DOG OVERWEIGHT?
Important factors to consider are age, breed and activity level. Certain health conditions can contribute to obesity including thyroid issues, diabetes and Cushing’s Disease. Also certain medications can contribute to weight gain. These should all be evaluated with your vet before embarking on a weight loss regime. Once those are ruled out, you can begin a slow but steady approach to weight loss. As is for humans, it should be considered a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix. As you continue to read, we will give you some of our suggestions for what to feed your overweight dog. But first, let’s examine the root causes of why your dog may be overweight.
THE BASICS QUESTIONS TO ASK:
What is my dog eating?
Of course, you want to feed your dog only the best. Healthier dog food can truly make a difference in your dog’s life. Many people think because the packaging states it is “Healthy” that the food is fine. As an informed dog owner, you need to dig a bit deeper. Find foods and treats that have real ingredients instead of words you can’t pronounce, the more natural the better. Pay particular attention to the ingredient panel, protein source and guaranteed analysis (where fat, calories protein and carbohydrates are listed).
How much and how often am I feeding my dog?
A simple way to stay on track with weight management and reduction is to precisely measure your dog’s food and to feed your dog on a schedule. Many people “free feed”, meaning a bowl of food is left out at all times. While this makes things simple, it can quickly and easily lead to an overweight dog. Getting your dog on a consistent eating schedule with measured amounts of food will reduce weight while ensuring nutritional needs are being met. Also consider the big picture of what your dog is consuming including treats, chews, dental sticks, maybe a snack from a neighbor or a biscuit from the bank once a week, etc. All this must be calculated into what your dog consumes per day on average. Cutting back on what your dog eats as a whole will aid greatly in weight loss.
Is my dog getting enough exercise?
Forty percent of American adults do not participate in any leasure-time physical activity. So, no doubt many dogs are just as sedentary. Exercise is an important factor to take into account when dealing with an overweight dog. Increasing activity levels is probably the single most important thing you can do for your overweight dog, second only to nutrition. Start slowly and work your way up to more exercise per day. If you aren’t walking your dog, start with a morning or evening walk. If you are already walking your dog, extend the walk and pick up the pace. Also consider changing the route to perk things up a bit. Check out one of our previous blog posts on this topic Explore New Places! If you are able to exercise your dog off-leash in a dog park or fenced-in yard, a game of fetch is great high intensity workout that will burn off calories quickly and enjoyably. It may take some time and discipline, but will be well worth the effort once you see your dog gain more energy and stamina as they lose the extra weight!
WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY OVERWEIGHT DOG?
No matter which type of food you decide to feed your dog, calculate the daily portion to be less than what is suggested on the dog food package. For example, if your dog is overweight and weighs in at 28 pounds but should be 20 pounds, feed them the daily portion recommended for their “ideal weight” (18-22 lbs.) Feed the daily portion over two feedings. One in the morning and again in the evening. This helps to maintain blood sugar and metabolism as well as hunger. We are raw food advocates at Goodness for Pets but understand that a raw diet may not be the solution for everyone. With that in mind, we have provided a solution for an overweight dog lifestyle change that includes raw, dry and/or wet food.
Raw diets, either frozen or freeze-dried, make it easier than ever to keep your dog’s diet as close to nature as possible, allowing them to live longer, healthier, more vibrant lives. Dogs experience better digestion and absorb nutrients more easily when fed a diet based on natural eating habits in the wild including muscle meat, bones, organs, raw fruits and vegetables. The feeding portion of a raw diet is considerably less than dry or wet food. This is because nutrients are not lost in the cooking process and virtually everything is absorbed. One of the many upsides to a raw diet is that because nearly everything is absorbed, poops become small and less frequent.
At Goodness For Pets we stock frozen and freeze-dried varieties from a number of select companies that meet our discriminating standards. One example is shown below, a frozen raw diet from Primal Pet Foods. Use the handy feeding calculator to determine the appropriate portion for your dog.
Primal Frozen Pork
Crude Protein (min) 13%
Crude Fat (min) 7%
Crude Fiber (max) 1%
Moisture (max) 71%
Ash (max) 0.5%
Additional Product Information:
Produce & Supplements 15%
Organic Ingredients 13%
Organ Meat 8%
Bone Content 6%
Calorie Content: ME (Calculated) = 35 kcal/ per ounce.
Available in 3 pound nuggets, 4 pound nibblets and 6 pound patties.
This recipe also features:
- Balanced proteins and fats to help manage weight
- Omega oils to promote skin and coat health
- Glucosamine/chondroitin to support hip and joint health
- Added L-Carnitine to support heart health/fat burning
- Pre + probiotics to support digestion
- Suitable for senior dogs and/or to help any dog with weight management
Crude Protein (min) 24%
Crude Fat (min) 10%
Crude Fiber (max) 6.5%
Moisture (max) 10%
Additional Product Information:
Phosphorous (min) 0.5%
Glucosamine (min) 400 mg/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate (min) 100 mg/kg
Omega 6 (min) 2.4%
Omega 3 (min) 0.48%
Calorie Content: ME (Calculated) = 341 kcal/cup
Available in 6lb, 12lb and 25lb bag sizes.
Wet food, canned, refrigerated or pouches are an excellent choice for weight management because they have higher protein, lower carbohydrates and fewer calories compared to a similar sized quantity of dry food. It is always advisable to add extra moisture to your dog’s diet. We like Evanger’s Heritage Series Senior & Weight Management. It is formulated to meet the nutritional levels for an overwieght dog while being very palatable as well.
Crude Protein (min) 7%
Crude Fat (min) 4%
Crude Fiber (max) 6%
Additional Product Information:
- Provides an excellent source of moisture to your dogs diet.
- Limited Ingredients
- For Older, Less Active and Overweight dogs
- No Fillers or Preservatives
- Packed in loaf form
Calorie Content: ME (Calculated) = 301 Kcals/Can
Available in 12.8 ounce cans.
It is never too late to start the process to help your overweight dog achieve success in losing weight. We truly care about the health of pets and are here to help guide you to what is best for your dog. At Goodness For Pets we have over 30+ combined years of pet nutrition experience. Come in and talk with us about your pet’s nutrition, we would be happy to help you and your dog.
Goodness for Pets is an all-natural pet supply store and boutique catering to animals and those who love them. Since 2004, we have been providing unparalleled service to our community in Naples, FL. Our goal is to be a valuable and dependable resource for our customers, offering products and services that are distinguished by quality, safety, excellence, and creativity. We specialize in holistic solutions with an emphasis on nutrition while acknowledging that each pet and pet owner has unique needs and requirements.