- 35% of dogs are overweight or obese. Obese dogs have shorter life expectancies than pets of normal body conditions.
- Increases risks of diabetes, heart disease, and trouble breathing.
- Increases risk of high blood pressure.
- Increases strain on bones and joints, leading to development of arthritis and pain.
- Owners may see behavioral changes, limping, stiffness, shortness of breath and difficulty doing normal activities such as climbing stairs, jumping on/off furniture, or getting up/down off the floor.
It is important to know the ins and outs of the current food your dog is being fed. The ingredients, calories per cup, and the formulation (i.e., Puppy Chow, Large Breed, Adult, Senior, Weight Control, etc.) play a large role in how your pet loses or gains weight.
- A “cup” of food is equal to an 8 oz measuring cup. We can provide an appropriate cup for you.
- Feeding a HIGH QUALITY diet will change the way your dog absorbs and uses the nutrients, and may decrease the amount of stools produced and gas.
- The feeding guide on a bag of dog chow is giving you the CUPS PER DAY amount the dog should be fed.
- It is encouraged to feed your dog in MEALS, dividing the total amount of CUPS PER DAY into 2 to 3 portions.
- Choose the correct formulation for your dog, based on his or her age, breed, medical conditions and needs – discuss this with your veterinarian, as they may have certain recommendations for you.
- If you have more than one pet, feed them SEPARATELY, and pick up any leftovers before allowing them to mingle – this will eliminate excess calories from additional food intake.
Any amount of canned food that you add into your dogs diet is considered a part of his or her total calorie requirement for the day. This means that to account for the canned food, you must decrease the amount of dry food and treats the dog receives to keep the calorie amount in check – feeding the normal amount of dry food plus canned will cause your pet to gain weight.
Giving your dog a treat is a big deal, for both of you. It gives you a sense of self-satisfaction, and most importantly it makes your dog happy. Consider these key points when handing over that biscuit or jerky treat:
- Most manufactured dog treats have just as many calories as a hamburger from a fast food restaurant.
- Just as canned food is considered a part of your dog’s total calorie requirement for the day, treats are too. Break treats into halves or quarters, and only offer a small piece instead of an entire treat. Small breed dog treats are generally lower in calories and can be used in all sizes of dogs instead of large or extra large treats, plus you can still break them into smaller pieces.
- Make your dog work for their treats – remember that tricks burn calories and stimulate the mind.
- Feeding people food (steak, burgers, processed meats & cheese, etc.) can be even more harmful than feeding unhealthy dog treats. Here are some healthy alternatives:
- Baby carrots (frozen or fresh) – ¼ cup is 17 calories
- Green beans (frozen, fresh, or canned, no additives) – ¼ cup is 9 calories, and they are high in fiber.
- Apple – ¼ of a fresh apple is 12 calories
- Air-popped popcorn (not microwave!) with no butter, flavorings or salt. – 15 calories per cup
- Plain rice cakes with no flavorings, salt, etc. – 50 calories per cake (large cakes)
- Just because you are eating, does not mean that your dog has to, even though they seem to think otherwise. We know it is hard to resist those big brown eyes, so it may help to have your dog in another room when you are eating and preparing your own foods.
- Dogs buy in to our unhealthy eating habits and take full advantage of anything extra they can get. They do not have willpower, a hunger shut-off button, or anything to prevent them from overeating. The only thing dogs do have is us to do their regulating, and we are in charge of their health and wellbeing. Part of being healthy having great body condition.
It is just as important for your dog to exercise as it is for us, and it’s more fun when done together. Playing ball, swimming, hiking, etc. are great ways to get your dog up and moving. If your dog is obese, it is recommended to start with very slow, gradual steps toward exercise so that your four-legged friend does not get hurt. Walking at a steady pace in cooler parts of the day for short distances and gradually building up the length of time and speed is beneficial. Getting your dog involved in classes, such as obedience and agility, will not only help burn calories but keep their mind busy. Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water!
Our clinic understands that it is much harder to exercise your dog in Arizona’s hot weather, and we do not encourage you to exercise outside when conditions are extreme. It is recommended to decrease the amount of treats or food given to dogs that easily gain weight during the hotter months, exercise inside if possible, and provide plenty of fresh, cool water.
METABOLIC DISEASE & MEDICATIONS:
There are certainly dogs out there that have trouble losing weight, are on low calorie diets and get plenty of exercise, yet they look at food and gain weight. It is possible that they are burdened by metabolic disease that harbors weight gain. Please ask your veterinarian if metabolic testing is recommended for your dog, as there may be other keys to achieving weight loss goals.
Also, certain medications your dog may be taking can cause weight gain. Discuss these possibilities with your veterinarian as well, so that everyone gets the full picture of what might be disabling the ability for your dog to lose weight.
HOW DO YOU KNOW:
Veterinarians will offer the best advice on if your dog is overweight. Each dog receives a BCS (body condition score), either on a 1 to 9 scale (5 being ideal) or a 1 to 5 scale (3 being ideal). This is based on two things: covering of fat over the ribs, and a bird’s eye view of their body shape. It is described that an ideal body condition of a dog should:
- Ribs are easily felt with slight (1/4”) fat covering, but not seen.
- Side view of the dog should show an abdominal tuck.
- Bird’s eye view of the dog should show an hourglass shape, tucked in just in front of the hips.
Always consult your veterinarian before deciding to start a diet plan so that you know how much your dog currently weighs, what the target/goal weight is, how many pounds you should feed your dog for, and the best food to use. If a food change is required, introduce the new food gradually over a 7 to 10 day period by mixing your pet's former food with increasing proportions of the new food, until only the new food is being fed.
Please feel free to use our clinic’s scale in the front lobby to weigh your dog as the diet and exercise changes take place. Most owners find that keeping a diary of these changes, food intake, and weights helps them to keep themselves and their dogs on track when starting a new routine.
If you have any questions, please call our office. We thank you for choosing us, and are willing to help your dog be as healthy as he or she can be.
20201 E. Ocotillo Road, Queen Creek, AZ, 85142
Telephone: (480) 987-8000 ∙ Fax: (480) 987-8315