Dog Weight Management Issues
The fat and happy approach. Dogs love to eat, and because they so obviously enjoy their food, it is fun to feed them. We know overweight dogs don’t live as long, but dogs don’t worry about the future anyway. Why not let your dog live a shorter, more contented life? This is a reasonable approach, and you may decide to let your dog be fat and happy.
As he gains more weight, the fat and happy dog will become less active. As middle age approaches, lameness problems usually make it difficult to move around. There will be a greater likelihood of diabetes, respiratory problems, heart trouble and other diseases.
The lean and lively approach
The lean and lively dog may not be quite as well satisfied at mealtime, but as he ages your dog will continue to be interested in the world around him. He will enjoy running and playing well into old age.
Although the “lean and lively” approach may be better for the dog, it is harder on the owner. Food must usually be given in measured amounts, divided into two meals a day. If your dog has been over-fed and suddenly finds himself on a diet, you can expect complaints. .
Divide the recommended amount of food into at least two feedings per day. Decide on a regular feeding schedule and give a measured amount of dog food each time. Do not give treats. Instead, divide your dog’s recommended amount of food into smaller servings. At times when he usually expects a treat, feed a small meal instead. Keep your dog out of the room when food is being prepared or eaten.
Provide a brisk 10 to 15 minute walk twice a day. This helps burn calories, tends to reduce the appetite, and gives your dog something to look forward to besides eating.
Choosing a food
Reduced calorie diets such as Purina Fit and Trim are excellent for weight maintenance and for gradual weight loss, but unsuitable for an aggressive weight loss program. To accomplish more rapid weight loss, use a food intended specifically for that purpose, such as Purina’s Obesity Management Formula.
What if my dog won’t eat the new food?
Most overweight dogs got that way by eating a good tasting diet high in fat and calories. Unfortunately, healthy foods don’t taste as good as fattening foods. A dog that has been on a rich diet won’t really start to get hungry for a day or two. Try not to worry about it. Although this is not true for cats or people, fat but otherwise healthy dogs can safely go weeks without food.
Weigh your dog every week. If he is gradually losing weight, hang in there. If not, reduce the food. When he has lost enough weight, you can increase the food a little.
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Placerville Veterinary Clinic of California