How can I help my dog lose weight?

The health risks to overweight dogs are serious.  Extra kilos cause stress to joints, bones ligaments and muscles.  Obesity aggravates arthritis.  Excess fat in the chest means that your dog's heart and lungs have to work harder.  An obese dog is prone to liver disease and diabetes is far more common in obese dogs.

If your dog is overweight, you need to reduce his food intake and provide more exercise. 

  • Reduce the amount of food he is currently eating by one third.  You can help him feel satisfied by adding more vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin or beans.
  • Divide his food into two meals.  Frequent meals increase his metabolism and will help him to feel satisfied.  Don't use this as an excuse to give him extra. 
  • Cut out all those little extras in his diet that actually add up to quite a lot.  (No cheating!)  Good low calorie snacks are raw carrot, green beans or fruit.  Don't feed your dog "people" food.
  • Exercise your dog on a regular basis.  If your dog is not used to exercise start slowly with short activity periods, and gradually increase the exercise time.  Begin with walking and when your dog shows signs of increased fitness move to games that require running, such as "fetch."
  • If you have more than one dog, feed them one at a time.  This ensures there is no opportunity for one dog to eat from the other dog's bowl.
  • Let your friends and neighbours know that for health reasons they should not feed your dog.
  • Make sure that all household and outdoor garbage is covered securely so your dog doesn't have an opportunity to snack from the garbage.

Don't give in to those pleading, soulful eyes - it is natural for a dog to want more.  Persevere, because he will not magically lose the weight overnight, but it is very important for his health and well being.

Enlist the help of your veterinarian.  Weigh your dog once a month to check his progress.

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