It’s estimated that one out of every two dogs is overweight! In the USA, 37 million dogs are obese.  Is one of these dogs sleeping on your couch right now?  Pet parents don’t like to acknowledge that their dog may be a bit “curvy or big-boned,” because, ahem, it might hit a bit too close to home. Did you know that having an overweight dog will decrease their life expectancy by 2.5 years? Getting your dog to a healthy weight or even better, preventing obesity, will make your pooch happier, feel better, and reduce future vet bills.  Do you have a plan of action to help battle the bulge?

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Put The Donut Down

As humans, we are aware of the simple formula of calories in vs. calories burned.  Same for your beloved dog.  When choosing a healthy food for your dog, make sure you are an avid label reader.  Big pet food companies get their “top models” and put them on the front of the dog food bag and you are instantly attracted.  “That dog looks healthy and mine will too, if I feed that food.”  Not so fast.  Many pet food manufacturers use fillers and not actual meat or vegetables in their formulas.  Make sure your food has all the nutrients needed for a balanced diet.  Check out how your dog food rates at the Dog Food Advisor.  Veterinarians will also tell you that 2 or 3 small meals per day is ideal, instead on leaving out a giant bowl of food.

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Treat Time

You still want to spoil your dog, but let’s do it healthy!  Treats for your pup should only account for 10% of their total daily calorie intake.  How many calories should your dog eat per day?  CHECK HERE.  There are lots of foods in your refrigerator that make great low-calorie snacks for both dog and human.  Veggies:  carrots, green beans, broccoli, celery, cucumber.  Fruits: banana slices, berries, watermelon and apple slices, (with no seeds, of course).

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Grab The Leash

Daily exercise.  Yes, DAILY.  Whether your dog is a speeding tornado tearing around the house, or a dog that is quite comfortable with a blanket and pillow, daily exercise is key.  Start first with the right gear.  A good harness and leash will make your walk more enjoyable for you and Fido.  As the weather turns, protective footwear and a sweater might also be on your “must have” items.  During summer months when the heat is on, a water bottle for you and your dog will be key to avoid dehydration.

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The Weigh-In

You have picked the right food.  Your dog is getting daily exercise.  Treats are low calories.  Now, it’s time to hit the scales.  First thing to do is always weigh your pets at approximately the same time of day.  Schedule regular weigh-ins at your veterinarian’s office to track both weight and body condition score in your dog’s medical record. You will always want to make sure there aren’t any underlying health issues that are working against the battle of the bulge.  Weight gain can be related to hormone problems, such as hypothyroidism in dogs.

Look Good, Feel Good

You will notice that as your dog’s activity increases, your waistline will decrease as well.  Walking with your dog is one of the best physical and mental exercises you can do.  Plus, bonding with your dog while you both look for squirrels is the stuff memories are made of!  Don’t forget to outfit yourself in proper DIG gear, too.

Most importantly, always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s eating and exercise routines. There may also be medical related issues that are causing your pooch to gain weight and a veterinarian will be needed to diagnosis such issues. The tips in this post may be helpful, but do not supersede advice from a veterinarian!