Getting your dog to achieve his ideal body condition may seem like an uphill climb. It takes time, commitment, and energy. But putting in the effort is well worth it. Dogs who maintain a healthy weight are at less risk for health problems. An ideal weight also means less stress on the heart, lungs, and joints.
You don’t have to take drastic measures to help your dog lose weight. Sometimes all it takes is slight adjustments to your routine. Here are a few simple ways to get started on the path to a better body condition for your dog.
Take a step back and evaluate your feeding routine
Sometimes we fall into a pattern of doing the same routine over and over again without giving much thought to how we’re doing it or whether we’re doing it the right way. Start by asking yourself questions such as:
- How often do I feed my dog?
- How often do I give my dog treats?
- Do I give my dog table scraps?
- Am I measuring my dog’s food daily?
Limit your dog to specific mealtimes during the day. Consider once in the morning and once in the evening. If your dog is overweight you may want to avoid leaving a bowl of food out for your dog to graze throughout the day. And always measure your dog’s food based on the feeding instructions.
Dog treats are fine, but they shouldn't make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Many treats have treating guidelines on their packaging. Read their feeding recommendations and follow them as closely as possible.
Pets need a diet of complete and balanced pet food developed to support their unique nutritional needs, so feeding table scraps is a habit to avoid.
Ensure you’re following your dog food’s feeding guidelines
Dog food labels are designed with feeding guidelines on the packaging. Follow them closely, and strive to give your dog an accurate amount of food every time. Keep in mind that these feeding guidelines are often for weight maintenance, so check with your veterinarian for feeding recommendations for weight loss.
You can also receive a personalized feeding recommendation for your dog by ordering a bag of Just Right®. Based on what you tell us about your dog, we develop a personalized, daily feeding recommendation that’s printed directly on the bag. You can refer to it at any time, knowing that the guidelines were created based on the information you provided about your dog to meet his health goals.
Have a healthy plan ready when your dog begs for food
When your dog is begging at the table for food, it's easy for owners just to give in. Yet over time, those extra treats and scraps add up. Instead, have a healthy plan for how you'll react to his begging. Some of our favorite ideas include giving your a toy to take his mind off his stomach, taking him on a walk, or offering him fresh water to distract him. By rewarding him with love and attention rather than extra calories, you'll strengthen your bond while helping him keep off the pounds.
Build exercise into your dog’s day
Exercising every day is a commitment, but the good news is 30 minutes of play actually counts as a workout for your dog. Consider joining a dog park so that your dog can burn calories and play with other high-spirited dogs. Games as simple as throwing a toy for your dog to retrieve can burn calories, and even a game of chase up the stairs or around the backyard can be considered a form of exercise. Just make sure to check with your veterinarian before starting an exercise program for your dog.
Monitor your dog’s weight and body condition
You don’t have to conduct daily weigh-ins, but regular examinations and observations are an effective way to monitor your dog’s progress.
- Feel your dog’s ribs: Run your hands along your dog’s rib cage. You shouldn’t see your dog’s ribs but should easily feel them.
- View your dog’s body from above: While your dog is standing, view his body from above. You should see a defined waist behind the rib cage.
- View your dog’s body from the side: While your dog is standing, view his body from the side. You should see the stomach tucked behind the rib cage.
When it comes to weight loss for your dog, one of the best resources is your veterinarian. Consult him or her for additional recommendations on how you can help your dog achieve his ideal weight. You can also create your dog's blend of Just Right to get feeding instructions personalized for his nutritional needs - all the way down to his daily recommended caloric intake.