If your dog is overweight you probably won’t get to enjoy him for as many years if he were fit and trim. You can extend your dog’s life by 15 percent just by keeping him fit and trim, according to Purina Pet Institute research,
No Table Scraps
If you give your dog tidbits at the dinner table, that’s probably one of the reasons he (or she) is overweight. Resist the sad whimpering eyes and just ignore him when he begs. You may have to put him in another room or outside when you eat if it’s too hard to say no. Just remember that you’re doing it for him.
Cut Out or Limit Treats
It’s best if you cut out all or most of his treats, especially those loaded with sugar and carbs. Rather than keep a box of treats at home, take him with you to the bank drive-through. Tellers usually give out free cookie bones to their customers’ fur babies.
Type of Dog Food
Use high premium dry food. It doesn’t have to be a weight loss formula as your dog will naturally lose weight when you stop offering fatty treats and overfeeding him. Also, when he isn’t fed the fatty fillers found in cheaper brands, he’ll shed weight. To be sure ask your veterinarian for suggestions regarding your particular dog.
To prevent digestive problems switch brands gradually. What’s more your dog may need to adjust to the new food. If your dog goes on a hunger strike, don’t panic. When he gets hungry enough, he will eat. Before long, he’ll acquire a taste for his healthier new food.
Cut Back on Dog Food
Most dogs eat more than they should be eating. Rather than just pouring out the dog food, measure it carefully. If your vet recommends it, choose a low fat dog food.
Don’t drastically cut back on his serving size. Start out slow at first, gradually decreasing the amount of food you give him. For example, if you normally feed him a cup of food twice a day, reduce it to ¾ cup twice a day. Also, continue to give him the same number of meals, just less at each one. This keeps his blood sugar more regulated than if you just feed him once a day. Remember that older dogs eat less than younger dogs as their metabolism slows down.
If you have a dog with an extra keen sense of smell such as a beagle or bloodhound, you have to use even more caution in keeping food off tables and counter-tops. For dogs that spend most of their time outdoors, regularly check your yard for hidden food. Make sure garbage cans have tight lids and that your dog isn’t able to get into any food containers.
Exercising Your Dog
Just as humans, dogs need to exercise.
- Walk your dog at least once a day. Even if it’s just down the street or around the block, that’s better than nothing. Gradually increase the amount of time. Make it a fun, bonding experience that your dog anticipates each day.
- If possible, fence in your yard so your dog is able to run freely.
- Play with your dog. Toss him a Frisbee or play soccer with him, kicking a ball back and forth. Just do anything to get him moving. It will be good for you, too.
Getting Fido in shape takes a sacrifice of your time, money and energy. But if you do everything possible to keep your dog fit and trim, you’ll be rewarded with a healthier dog who’ll live longer than expected.
Originally published on Suite 101.