Canine Obesity:
Steps to a Healthier Dog
By B.R. Stewart
The formula for weight loss is not a complex
one, but it is one that you, as the owner,
must commit to:

Calories Burned > Calories Ingested = Weight Loss

How Much to Feed
The amount of food each dog requires varies depending on the food's quality and calorie count, as well as your dog's breed, activity level, and metabolism. Start out on the low side of the recommended portion size listed on the bag and after a couple weeks assess your dog's weight. You can then modify the portion size accordingly.

Steps you can take to prevent overfeeding:
  • Close the buffet - If your dog has access to food all day, he will eat all day. Instead, feed him a specific amount one to three times a day.
  • Prevent ninjaing - If you have multiple dogs in your household, feed them separately to guarantee each dog is consuming only their allotment and not stealing your other dogs food.
  • Be consistent - Use a measuring cup to keep track of how much food your dog eats each day. This helps the entire family stay on the same page when it comes to feeding portion size.
How To Handle Begging
Don't give in to those big brown eyes and pathetic whining! Stand strong. Your dog doesn't know that excessive amounts of food and treats will hurt him and shorten his life expectancy.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to curtail the begging:
  • Distract him - Pet or play with him when he starts begging for food. Or better yet, take him for a walk. This is a win/win. Not only does he not get the extra calories, but he also burns a few.
  • Feed him small meals more frequently - This doesn't mean feed him more food each day, just break up his daily portion into two or three meals.
  • Give him low-calorie, crunchy vegetables - Baby carrots, broccoli, celery, and string beans, as well as apple, watermelon, and mango pieces, make good treats. Some dogs won't be fooled, but others will cheerfully chomp them up.
  • Offer fresh water - Water is cool and refreshing and might be exactly what your dog needs.
Occasionally, owners will put their dogs on a diet without giving any thought to the number or type of treats they give their dog every day. Many of these treats are loaded up with hundreds of delicious calories. For instance, a premium pig ear contains 230 calories on average. That's over half the daily calorie requirement for a 20 lb dog!

To maximize weight loss, find low-calorie, appropriately-sized treat for daily use and save the high-calorie ones for special occasions. Treats should never make up more than 10% of your dog's diet and if he's overweight, it should be even less.

We all know that a balanced diet combined with exercise is the most efficient way to lose weight, so in addition to regulating your dog's diet, you should also exercise him for 15 to 20 minutes at least twice a day. This means anything from a brisk walk around the neighborhood to an invigorating game of fetch in the back yard. If your dog is obese, start with short walks and work up to longer excursions.

You can also get involved in a dog sport like agility or herding. The physical and mental stimulation will do him good and the shared activity will help you build a stronger bond. Quite often, your dog will find this more rewarding than a treat.

In Summary. . .
Remember: You have all the power in this relationship. By taking responsibility for your dog's health and controlling his weight, you are helping him become a healthier and happier animal.
Avg. Calorie Requirements:

10 lb dog:  200-275 cal/day
20 lb dog:  325-400 cal/day
50 lb dog:  700-900 cal/day

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Feeding one pig ear to a
40 lb dog as a treat is the equivalent of a human eating
two double cheeseburgers in addition to regular meals.
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