IS YOUR DOG CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT?
Between 25 and 40% of dogs are overweight, but often, owners don't know it until they take their dog to the veterinarian for another reason. Yet, even veterinarians can't tell if a dog is fat just by its weight. Ideal weight varies by breed, and quite widely within breeds. There's no ideal weight chart for all dogs!
You can judge your dog's condition by placing your hands on each side of his rib cage. Are the ribs protruding? Your dog may be too thin. Can you feel individual ribs easily, and is your dog's abdomen slightly tucked up when viewed from the side? That's the sign of ideal weight. If you can't feel the ribs easily, your dog has no waist, and his abdomen drags, he's too fat. Your veterinarian can help you further evaluate your dog's weight.
YOUR DOG’S WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM
Before beginning any weight loss program with your dog, discuss it with your veterinarian.
You can begin your dog's weight-loss program by reducing caloric intake by 25% of his maintenance intake, and then decrease it by 10% increments every two to three weeks until a 1% weight loss per week is achieved. This means that, if your dog weighs 15 pounds, a 1% loss would be about 2-1/2 ounces.
If you feed one large meal a day or keep food available at all times, try dividing the daily ration into several small meals (at least two meals a day) and pick up what has not been eaten 30 minutes after each meal.
WHAT CAUSES CANINE OBESITY?
Dogs gain weight for the same reason that people do—they eat more calories than they use. Today's dogs share another problem with their parents: lack of activity. Most parents are gone all day and come home too tired to play with the dog.
Also, as dogs age, or after they are spayed or neutered, their metabolism might slow causing them to require less food.
Another reason for weight gain is frequent, high-calorie treats. Sometimes, more than one family member is feeding the dog, and the dog sure isn't telling!
SUPPORTING YOUR DOG'S WEIGHT LOSS
Losing weight isn't easy. Changing habits is the key. Here are some ways you can help:
Determine who feeds the dog what and when. (Don't be embarrassed to admit you give your dog treats. Dogs are expert beggars.)
Substitute affection for treats. Give a pat or throw a ball when he noses your hand.
Take your dog for a walk more often. Even 10 minutes a day can help.
Feed him more often. It takes energy to digest food. Dividing your dog's daily ration into two or three feedings will help.
Reducing your dog's regular food amount by 25% should bring results.
If your dog is more than 15% overweight, your veterinarian might recommend a special food. Diet foods should be low in fat (under 20% of calories from fat).
Your goal is to help your dog be healthier, so select his food carefully. Some diet foods just add fiber to help the dog feel full. This can result in reduced digestibility, large stool volume, frequent trips to the backyard, and decreased skin and coat condition because the dog isn't getting enough fat and nutrients.
Find a food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Healthy Weight, that has normal fiber levels to keep your dog's digestive system working properly. It should have high-quality protein so your dog doesn't lose muscle tone and essential fatty acids to help keep his skin flexible and coat glossy throughout the dieting process. After your dog reaches ideal weight, select a maintenance food to keep weight steady."
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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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