Doggy Diets - Keeping Fido In Trim
By: Charlie Cory
In many respects, dogs are very similar to humans. For example, one of their biggest health problems is obesity. To many owners, a tubby dog is extra cuddly, but the fact of the matter is that a fat dog is an unhealthy dog! In much the same way as obesity affects humans, dogs too can suffer from diabetes exacerbated by over weight, and their life expectancy can be seriously shortened.
Some pet owners do not know if their dog is overweight or not. A layer of blubber around the dogs midriff does not mean it has a comfortable weight. A simple way to find out is with a simple visual check. Your should be able to easily feel the ribs under the dog's skin. If a dog is overweight then the will have a layer of fat over their ribs.
There are a number of factors that can effect a dogs weight. Over feeding is probably the most common, but lack of exercise can compound the problem of over eating dramatically. There are other factors too though, some not as obvious as those just outlined. For example, and depending on the age, breed and sex of the dog, conditions such as hyperthyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism can also play a part. If you suspect that you pet is overweight, then your first port of call should be to the vet, just in case something more serious is at play.
Once you have ruled out any serious health problems from the equation, you can start to deal with the other factors yourself. Make a plan of the quantity and quality of the food that you give your dog, and how many times you actually feed it. Many cheap brands of dog food are not fully nutritious, so one of the first things to do will be to get better quality food for your pet. If you have any doubts, talk to your veterinarian about the diet you give your dog, because they will be well placed to advise you with respect to the breed and age of the animal. If you do change your dog's diet, do so over a period of time rather than all at once. Let your dog's digestive system deal with the changes, especially if they are quite radical.
Treat your dog as you would treat yourself if you were on a diet. Cut out sweets for example, especially if they are high in calories. Make notes of exactly what you feed your dog, especially with respect to the calorific content. As with humans, losing weight is all about calorie deficit, and one of the first things to do is to check the dog's calorie intake. Try and avoid feeding your dog leftovers as well, even if they are used to having them. Human food has not been prepared with dogs in mind, and will often have higher calorie content than a dog should have.
The other side of the weight loss coin is adequate exercise. Dogs need to have a huge amount of exercise to remain healthy, far more than you take yourself, no matter how fit you are. If your dog is overweight, they should go for at least two walks a day, of minimum duration of 30 to 45 minutes each. This will depend largely on the size of your dog. If you have such a thing as a dog park nearby, then take your dog there. Play lots of games which involve you throwing and the dog running. Less work for you and more for the dog, but that is the way that it should be. And it can be fun too!
Try to look at a long term plan for your dog's weight loss, and not a crash diet. A gradual program will be more sustainable over the long term. Remember to record your dog's weight too, a keep an eye on progress regularly.
By and large, dogs become overweight by overeating and inactivity, much as we do. Follow the feeding guidelines set by your vet, improve the quality of the food you give your dog, and increase the amount of exercise and activity your dog gets. Following these simple rules will get your dog back to being the way that nature intended. They will thank you for it!
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