By now we all know obesity is unhealthy—for both people and pets. But do you know just how many health problems it can cause for your dog? Diabetes, bone and joint damage, decreased liver function, heart disease, increased blood pressure, and a heightened risk of cancer are just a few of the serious health issues caused by obesity. That’s a scary list. Protect your pooch by taking a proactive approach to keeping the pounds off. Here are some ways to do it.
Dogs do better with a controlled amount of food on a schedule. While some dogs can handle eating from an always-full and ever-present dog bowl, most will overeat if food is always available.
Make Smart Choices
There are lots of dog foods out there, all offering something different. When it comes to keeping obesity in check, IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Weight Control and IAMS Healthy Naturals™ Weight Management with Chicken formulas are great choices.
Resist Sharing Table Scraps
Your dog’s your pal, so it’s difficult not to share your tasty bacon or a bite of steak with him when he gives you those big, pleading eyes. But trust us—it’s worth it to resist. Feeding Fido “people food” ups his food and fat intake significantly. Plus, it creates bad habits: A dog that’s not fed from the table won’t learn to beg.
Obviously, a great way to keep your dog trim and fit is with some good exercise sessions. When you don’t have a lot of time, do short sessions of fetch or tug-of-war. Take it to the next level by jogging with your dog, tossing the Frisbee®, or starting agility training. And here’s a bonus: A dog that gets enough exercise is less likely to act out.
Tally Up the Treats
Of course you want to reward your dog when he’s good—but don’t forget that those treats can add up. Pay attention to the calorie and fat content of the treats you give. More importantly, take note of how many goodies you’re doling out—and how often.
Check for Bigger Problems
Most of the time, a dog is overweight because he’s taking in more calories than he’s burning. But it is possible that there is a larger problem at work. If you’ve tried maintaining your dog’s diet and increasing exercise and still aren’t seeing results, talk to your veterinarian about a possible thyroid or other metabolic disorder.
Don’t get discouraged if you slip up every once in a while or don’t see results right away. Battling obesity is done day to day—it’s about forming good habits and being disciplined. By following the tips above and showing a little dedication, you’ll be on your way to having a healthier, happier dog.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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