Promoting weight loss in some dogs can indeed be very challenging. It is achievable though. Keeping them lean is critical for their long-term health and happiness.
Change your feeding routine
Many of us feed our four-legged friends twice a day, and for most dogs this routine works fine. However, if you’re trying to help your dog lose weight, you may want to consider feeding them once a day instead. This allows them to anticipate food less often and gives their gut a chance to rest between meals.
Of course, changing their routine will have to be done gradually, so the actual weight loss itself won’t begin right away. You’ll also have to make sure that they’re still getting the appropriate number of calories; you don’t want them to develop a nutritional deficiency. Ask your vet if you’re unsure how many calories your dog needs to stay healthy while on their weight loss plan.
It’s also important to avoid “free feeding,” or allowing your dog to graze all day. Keep feeding times to a set schedule, ensure portions are measured appropriately for your dog’s weight and weight loss goals, and remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes if she/he doesn’t finish it.
Up their exercise
Many dogs who are overweight are simply not getting enough exercise. While their excess weight makes it harder to get around, exercise is still important for their health. Regular walks, playing fetch, and even swimming are all great options for burning off calories as well as their pent-up energy.
Start slowly if you must, going at your dog’s pace, and age. Be mindful certain types of vigorous exercise may not be suitable for senior or large breeds, always take care to do your research.
If you’re unsure about how to proceed, try consulting your vet or a trainer on the best ways to safely exercise your overweight dog. There are also plenty of resources available for exercising your dog safely at home, helping them to lose weight and strengthening your bond in the process.
While this might be difficult for you both at first, knowing the health benefits of fasting for your canine pal might help you get past the guilt of those puppy dog eyes . Humans fast regularly for a variety of reasons, and weight loss is one of them. Other benefits of fasting include detoxing, allowing the gut lining to heal and replenish itself, and the list goes on.
This practice can be helpful for dogs, too, though it must be done gradually in order to remain safe. It’s also important to note that puppies, toy breeds, and dogs with reflux or other health conditions aren’t good candidates for fasting, so always check with your vet/canine nutritionist before setting out.
If you’re given the all clear, start by reducing their food intake gradually one day each week (or every two weeks), and eventually you’ll get the routine down. Your dog will learn to expect less and less food when this is done regularly, helping you to avoid that irresistible begging!
Treats are commonplace in most dog households, and they’re very helpful in some ways, especially when it comes to training. The trouble is, most people don’t realise that those tiny treats add up, contributing way more calories to dogs’ diets than they actually need.
If you need treats for training, consider changing them to a healthier form. Small pieces of vegetables, fresh dried/ dehydrated pure meat, and other species-appropriate foods can be helpful with this. Also, raw meaty bones are long-lasting, healthy treats that your dog is sure to love. They provide many benefits, including improved dental health and exercise  — just scoop out the marrow to minimise their fat intake, and your dog’s one happy pup!
Another way to minimise the calories your dog gets from treats is to feed them smaller meals. This way, their calories remain lower, while you’re still able to use treats for training and the occasional “reward.” However, it’s important to make sure their treats are contributing to their nutrition, so don’t just feed them more junk food and less of their meals — this will just make them less satisfied in the long run as well as negatively affecting their health.
Stress in dogs can stem from a range of factors, such as boredom, isolation, anxiety and depression. A lack of mental stimulation, spending too much time alone, lack of structure, too much environmental stimulation or not enough, a sudden change to routine (amongst other things) can all lead to your dog experiencing stress.
When the body is in stress response for significant periods of time this leads to increased levels of cortisol production. Cortisol is a hormone that has an important role in the body, however, when levels are consistently elevated it has also been connected with increased hunger and weight gain. Chronically high levels of circulating cortisol may also increase fat storage. Keeping stress to a minimum is a crucial part of weight loss for your fur friends.