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Best Dog Food For Overweight Dogs
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Best Dog Food For Overweight Dogs

I have an overweight Labrador. I know I have to help him with the weight problem, but here’s my dilemma. I want him to lose weight and enjoy his food. Since he went onto diet food I have become increasingly frustrated about finding a feed that will keep him healthy and happy. So what food options are available to owners in my situation? What is the best food for an overweight dog?

The on-going problem

Initially, I tried a prescription diet food recommended by the vet. The feed made him so hungry he changed his behaviour. He started scavenging when out for a walk and in the house: nose in rubbish bins and licking the kitchen floor looking for scraps. He stole food left to defrost in the kitchen. He begged at the table. After a month I had him weighed and he had actually put weight on!

I have changed his diet food a number of times since then. Some he has loved, but not lost weight. Other brands have made him really miserable, but have achieved weight loss mainly because he can barely bring himself to eat it.

This is our current situation. We have cut out treats, and upped the exercise. He is losing weight but I want him to enjoy feed times not loathe them. So what are the food alternatives for an overweight dog? It seems to me that I have 3 main choices:

1. Commercial feeds – Like most people I lead a hectic life. I buy commercial dog food from local pet food stores because it is convenient. Commercial foods come mainly in canned or dry form. All the big brand names produce dog diet food and the products are widely available. But there are so many brands which do you choose? My advice would be:

• Buy the best quality canned or dry food you can afford. Inexpensive diet food is generally full of low quality ingredients which lack nutrition and could cause health problems for your pet.

• Read the food labels carefully and avoid anything that does not have meat listed as the largest ingredient.

• Avoid foods with large amounts of grains, fillers, preservatives, colourings or unrecognisable substances. Dogs have a digestive tract designed to digest meat and lots of fibrous material in the food can often lead to health problems.

• Use dog food forums. Owners will recommend quality foods while dishing the bad stuff.

Avoid commercial dog treats. Most are high calorie, full of fat, preservatives and colourings.

Personally I don’t think it makes much difference whether you choose canned or dry feed as long as it is good quality and provides a complete balanced diet. But many canned products are higher in protein, lower in carbohydrates and fewer in calories than the equivalent weight in dry food. As a result, many owners mix canned and dry food together to achieve positive weight loss results.

2. Home-cooked dog food –More and more people are being tempted to cook their own dog food because of the frustration with commercially available feeds. The big responsibility here is that owners have to ensure a balanced diet with the right amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Of course when you buy a commercial feed then this has supposedly been done for you.

The big advantage with home-cooked is you know what they are eating and you can make a variety of combinations such as beef and potato, lamb and rice etc. The emphasis is on a protein source combined with vegetables and the occasional raw meaty bone. There are numerous recipes online.

3. Raw diet – I have recently done some research on this type of feeding. It is growing in popularity and its supporters claim it helps dogs maintain a healthy weight. It involves the feeding of raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables. There are variations of a raw diet. Many owners buy and prepare the food themselves and there are many online recipes available. Because of the growing interest, commercially processed raw food diets are now available which you can buy frozen or freeze-dried. Like with most foods, there are risks and benefits from this type of feeding and it’s still a controversial issue.

So what do I do? I want a food which will help my dog lose weight, but at the same time keep him happy and healthy. Is this too much to ask? I’m human. I get distracted by the marketing strategies that the food manufacturers use. Do I go with foods that are described as being “lite”, “holistic”, “healthy”, “prescription”, or “natural? “ Do I become seduced by the powerful arguments in favour of raw or home cooked feeding?

For the time being I am concentrating on buying high quality commercial diet food to manage his weight loss mainly because of convenience. So what is my next step I hear you ask? In the short term I am going to try mixing his dry food with some diet canned to see if that makes any difference. In the long term I think the best food to keep him happy and healthy is real food: fresh meat, vegetables and the occasional raw meaty bone. I perhaps need to think less about convenience and invest more time in sourcing and cooking the best meals for my much loved pet.


Street Talk

Hi Janice, This was an issue that I faced also. My Yogi was part German Shepherd, part Leonberger (at least I think). I adopted him from a shelter. I fell in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him. He was 9 years old when I got him and weighed 85 pounds. He had the usual big dog health issues and I tried to do what I could for him. I fed him Blue to start out with and then began mixing canned food for him at dinner time, he really liked it! I knew that my time with him would be short due to his health so I tried to make him as comfortable as I could. He died in my arms weighing 120 pounds. He was the best dog ever and I miss him so. I question myself sometimes, could have I done this or that? But I know in my heart of hearts that he enjoyed his last days, ate what he liked and had a whole lot of love. My daughter has an old beagle that is overweight and also has this same issue, what to do...... If you find the answer, I hope you share it, people like me would love to know. Sincerely, Denise

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Hi! Janice, great article. Two years ago we had to put my wife's dog down due to all of the medical problems that she had due to the overweight problem. We currently have a new dog that dosen't seem to have a weight problem as of yet. I feed her IAMs but have been thinking of swtiching to Blue for the all natural choice but I don't know they really hit you in the pocketbook for the natura feed. Thank you

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks for your comments. I am really struggling to find a diet food that the dog will be happy with. I started off with Hills Science Plan but he hated it. He did however lose weight while he was on it. Since then I've tried many big brands all very expensive. Of late I've tended to go with foods made by smaller producers just because the ingredients seem to be more recognisable! They also cost a lot. Given the time I would like to try feeding him real food i.e. meat, vegetables and fruit. Still doing some research on this at the moment.

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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