Although your dog may not appear to be overweight unless it is morbidly obese, many dogs are actually much heavier than their ideal weight. One indicator of canine obesity is the ability to see your dog's ribs. If they are lost under even a thin layer of fat, your dog needs to lose a few pounds.
As with their human counterparts, there are two components to canine weight loss: diet and exercise. Restricting food intake without exercise causes the body's metabolism to slow down in an effort to conserve fuel. This remarkably efficient use of calories doesn't help your portly canine companion lose weight.
Conversely, exercising while maintaining the same caloric intake may help somewhat, because your dog is burning more calories while consuming the same amount of food.
Calorie reduction and exercise combined will result in stable or increased metabolism and the use of stored energy in the form of body fat to compensate for the reduction in caloric intake.
How can you reduce your dog's intake of excess calories?
Calorie reduction will best be accomplished by providing healthier food choices and also by behavior modification for both you and your dog.
Many commercial dog foods are loaded with carbohydrates such as corn and grains, which are essentially filler. Because dogs are omnivores and can digest many of the same foods as humans, they are fed (or overfed) an excessive amount of carbohydrates. They make your dog feel fuller and more satisfied.
Unfortunately, as in their human counterparts, a diet that is high in carbohydrates has been found to contribute to weight gain and increases in blood sugar levels that can lead to diabetes.
Dog foods that are higher in protein and fiber provide less calories while making your dog feel full. Of course, as with healthier food choices for their owners, these premium dog foods are more expensive.
Behavior modification for dogs and their owners
One mistake pet owners make is to provide dry dog food at all times. Dogs will eat from boredom just as their owners. Feed your dog 3-4 smaller meals per day, with a diet that is carefully chosen by calorie intake.
Snacking is also an issue. Dogs will associate relief from boredom or rewards for good behavior only with food. Sometimes they just want to engage in eating junk food with you, but much of the time they merely want attention and interaction.
Use exercise as a reward
Exercise will get both you and your couch potato companion in better shape and better moods. When your dog starts to whine or beg for a snack, grab their leash or ball instead. Your pet will soon start to associate exercise and interaction with love and contentment instead of food.
Pets are often an extension of their owners, and with growing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans, it's no surprise that their pets are experiencing the same issues. Hopefully, mindfulness of obesity in their pets will cause their owners to reflect on their own lifestyles and work together with their canine companions toward a healthier lifestyle.
To learn more, contact a clinic like Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic.