This Article is About
family pet
hind quarters
unwanted pounds
weight reduction
serious health
several steps
simple solution
Dieting For Dogs - A Guide To Slimming Down The Family Pet
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Dieting for Dogs    -    A Guide to Slimming Down the Family Pet

Our Labrador recently had a serious health scare. He developed a number of lumps which turned out to be “fatty” tumours. Happily, they turned out to be benign. The tumours exist because the dog is overweight. They could increase in size if he gets any heavier. This could ultimately affect his gait and lead to surgery. We had to do something, and thankfully there was a simple solution; put the dog on a strict weight reduction diet and change his lifestyle.

The vet pointed out that by making these changes we could prevent the development of other diseases such as arthritis and canine diabetes. Ultimately, it could help the dog achieve a longer life. There are some simple things you can do to tell whether your dog is overweight. There are also several steps you can take to help your pet shed those unwanted pounds.

How to recognise if your dog is overweight

The dog is my daily companion. I never really noticed his weight gradually increasing. It was the vet who suggested that we weigh him because he looked “chubby”. Just days before my brother had commented on how “big” the dog was, so take note of what people say about your pet..

Before the weighing, a few simple tests were carried out. Firstly the vet ran his hands lightly along the dog’s rib cage. He had to press down hard to feel the ribs, and then concluded “there is too much fat here”.

The second thing he did was to view the dog in a standing position. He checked whether the tummy was sagging below the rib cage. The vet described what to look for: a “motorbike” shape when you view them in side profile. Like people, dogs should have a waist. This should be between their ribs and hind quarters. Our pet had no waist at all!

Finally, the dog was weighed. His actual weight was checked against the ideal weight range for the breed. The reality for us was that the dog needed to lose 7 kg of fat!

Take some advice

In our case the tumours prompted the visit to the vet. The dog was examined and his weight evaluated. Once we established the need to slim down, the advice came thick and fast.

I now know what my dog weighs, and more importantly, his target weight. A deadline of one year has been set for us to shed those kilogrammes, and a weight reduction plan has been set up for us to follow. In addition to the vets advice I found lots of useful information online. Forums, and reviews of diet food were particularly informative. I also found some good pet food stores with knowledgeable sales assistant who helped me select the right diet food.

Choosing the diet food

It was recommended we buy a specially formulated diet food. Initially, we purchased the feed from the vet, but found that most pet food stores sold the same product. Basically, it was a dried food, low in calories and fat, but high in protein.

The dog hated it. I have never seen him look so unhappy. I would put the food in the bowl and he would turn up his nose and walk away. This went on for nearly 2 days and was quite distressing. We were told to “be strong” and that it was only a matter of time before he began eating again.

The vet was right, but the dog was constantly miserable so we experimented with other branded low calorie feed until we found a suitable one.

Monitor the diet

One of the best things I found was a free online chart which I now use to monitor his daily feed and exercise. I now use a measuring cup to weigh out his food rather than trying to estimate the right amount. Either your vet, or the food labelling, will tell you how many calories you should be giving your dog per serving of food. Just try to be consistent in giving the right proportions.

I had to ban all family members from giving the dog treats because many of them are so high in calories. Feeding scraps from the table is no longer allowed. The vet suggested natural treats such as vegetables or string cheese, but take advice on this first since some human foods are toxic to canines.

Increase the exercise

We were asked to gradually increase his daily exercise. Dieting alone is not enough. Labradors are a large breed and we were advised to walk him 2 hours per day. I work from home so can fit this into my daily schedule. It’s not so easy for other people who have to go out to work, but if this is the case try using the kids.They might help out walking the dog.

On the odd occasion, I have used a nearby dog walking service. I also found that a quick tea break in the garden, throwing a ball for the dog has been beneficial. There are also plenty of dog toys around that can increase their activity within the home. My dog loves anything that squeaks and will play quite happily on his own until he gets bored.

I still feel guilty that I never noticed the dog gaining weight. What he eats is really up to me, and I feel that I let him down. A quick evaluation of his lifestyle before any changes were made showed that too many people were giving him excess food in between his meals. We also found that he wasn’t being exercised for long enough each day.

I am now much more consistent in what, when and how I feed him. Changing his lifestyle was difficult in the beginning, but it is so much easier now that I have found a specialist diet food and lifestyle which works for us. The dog still has weight to lose, but I can see the health and fitness benefits already. A dog’s weight is influenced by many factors and individual owners need to develop weight reduction plans that “fit” their particular dog, but I hope the tips I’ve written about will help other dog owners faced with a similar situation.

Street Talk

Hi Janice, My wish to you is a very good morning and the next parts of the day. I just passed by to say hello and to tell you that I like your article because it is rich and informative. Thank you very much.

  about 6 years ago

Hi Geoffrey. Thanks very much. This is my first article so your comments are very much appreciated.

  about 6 years ago
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