Helping overweight dogs.
Like humans, dogs can rapidly put on a couple of pounds of unwanted weight, especially as they age. As a matter of fact 25% of all dogs in the United Kingdom are overweight. The surprising things being that most dog owners are unaware of this until they have to take their dog into the vets. Overweight dogs are more prone to develop diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, arthritis and potentially problems with behaviour too. Therefore making sure your dog is fit and healthy is vital.
The trouble is that it isn't always easy to tell if your dog is getting heavier, especially when it is happening very gradually. Your vet will always be able to advise you about these issues. As a rule of thumb if your dog's ribs are hard to feel and their waste isn't visible from above, then your dog is probably overweight. In order to lower your dogs fat percentage you will have to ensure they are consuming less calories than normal and that they are exercising more.
In order to reduce the number of calories your dog is consuming, then it is a good idea to reduce the size of their meals by around 10% for 2 to 3 weeks. It is also a good idea to remember that the suggested servings displayed on the packet of dog food, is simply a guide and the amount of food needed various between dogs.
It is important to remember that you should never reduce food intake by more than 15% as your pet might not be getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals. Furthermore you could cause them to lose muscle mass, which will make exercise more difficult for them and could slow their metabolism down.
Moreover there are many diet of light formulas on the market. These products are less concentrated than traditional formulas, with less fat content. This means that you don't usually need to actually reduce the quantity of food you supply. This also means your dog will be getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals too. Once your dog has reached their ideal weight, it is possible to revert back to a normal maintenance formula. However it is perfectly safe to continue feeding a light formula for extended periods if they are less active.
An important thing to remember and one which often gets forgotten, it that feeding food scraps and dog treats can lead to obesity. It is probably best to cut these treats out before you reduce food quantities.
An easy way to help your dog lose weight is to increase the amount of time that they exercise. Simply adding 15 minutes to your regular walk can be extremely advantageous.
In conclusion, it is always a prudent idea to consult your vet prior to putting your dog on a diet. Your vet will be able to offer advice and guidance. Weight loss should be a slow process and very fast weight loss can be dangerous. It has been suggested that weight loss should occur over 3 to 4 months, with extremely overweight dogs taking up to 1 year to lose the excess weight.