Dogs can become obese and dangerously overweight. Just as many human beings take the opportunity of the passage of the new year to set a goal for losing weight, so might it be a good idea to set January 1st as the date for your dog to get started on a high nutrition program. Of course, since only Border Collies and Basenjis are smart enough to actually know how to read a calendar, you certainly don’t need to wait for a specific time to put your dog on a diet. As they say, there is no time like the present and today is the first day of the rest of your dog’s life.
Although a dog who qualifies as obese should be under the strict supervision of a veterinarian, if your pet is just suffering from the canine equivalent of love handles you can take matters into your own hands. Just like with human beings, the best pathway to a weight loss for dogs is slow and steady. A crash diet won’t be any healthier for your pet than it is for you. There is another reason besides the fact that crash diets won’t hold that makes it a bad idea. Some dogs are subject to liver complications, while others can suffer a dangerous loss of muscle tissue or bone density.
Dogs of any age can put on a little extra body fat, but the typical dog in need of a diet is usually between five and eleven years of age. In addition a few breeds appear to have a genetic inclination towards obesity: Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels among others. And it probably comes as no surprise that neutered or spayed animals are more likely to suffer weight gain. Regardless of age, breed, or sexual state, however, the single biggest contributor to weight gain in dogs is the simple fact that owners do not feed them well. Table scraps are a definitely no-no for any owner who wishes to put their dog on a diet. The next step is to buy nutritional dog food, keeping in mind that the proper balance will depend in great part upon your particular dog. Veterinarians recommend the replacement of fat commonly found in kibble with food higher in fiber. You can also dilute much of the caloric intake by using less food and making up the difference with water that creates a kind of gravy. The best bet is to find a high protein dietary food for your dog because this succeeds both in cutting back on the fat and pumping up the protein. Studies have found that the higher the protein in the doggie diet the more muscle they retain. Even better, high protein diets also help burn off fat.
The important thing to remember about putting your dog on a diet is to take it slow and, if your dog qualifies as obese, to do so under the supervision of a professional. Before putting your dog on any kind of weight loss program check to make sure what specific needs your breed may have. And, of course, even a perfectly modulated diet means nothing unless you make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.