There comes a time when you have to face the truth: your dog is overweight. For older dogs, the realization should come sooner than later, because your dog’s health is at primary risk. Cancer, fatigue, heart disease—all these are problems that your older buddy might encounter just because of older dogs obesity. So how do you address obesity in your senior pet once and for all, before these health problems even set in?
1. Find out if your dog is obese or overweight based on the signs.
There are objective ways for you to figure out if your dog is obese. One is the rib test: if you can feel your dog’s ribs when you run your hand on the sides of your dog, then there is no obesity. If, on the other hand, you find yourself having a difficult time detecting the ribcage of your dog, then face it: your dog needs to shed some weight. Another way is to simply weight your dog and consult a chart.
2. Go to the vet.
Explain your concerns to your vet and discuss the options for dieting and resetting your dog’s metabolism. The vet will help you evaluate your dog’s weight, and give you an idea of how much your dog needs to lose. Knowing how much your dog needs to take off is the most important thing to find out.
Ask your vet for advice specific to your dog in relation to a weight loss program. In particular, the aim will be to reduce caloric intake (to about 60 percent of the current intake) and increase exercise. You can help your dog cope with the calorie reduction by feeding her smaller portions more frequently through the day. It also helps to feed your dog at the same times every day.
Ask your vet for a reduced fat/weight reduction dog food. Your vet will help you evaluate how much your dog should be eating.
If you draw up a specific plan with your vet, be sure to follow it carefully. (Read more here)
3. Record your dog’s diet changes. You can either download a chart or simply record your dog’s intake. It’s about time you use a measuring cup too, so you can be sure that your dog is eating just the right amount of calories.
4. Eliminate unnecessary treats from your dog’s diet. You should eliminate treats in such a way that they never go over 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. You should also start considering giving healthy treats such as celery, apples, string cheese, green beans, etc.
5. Start an exercise program. It’s never too late for your dog to exercise, no matter how old your fur buddy might be. Your dog’s exercise plan must in accordance with his weight. For example, small dogs should start with 400 meters each day of walking, up to 2.4 kilometers after a period of time. Large dogs, on the other hand, should start with an 800-meter walk, up to 2 miles of walking. Even playing fetch with your dog qualifies as exercise, and I’m sure your older buddy badly misses playing that game!
Lastly, you should monitor your dog’s weight often. Once a week should be fine and should allow you to identify the progress of your dog. Keep these five steps in mind and, before you know it, your fur buddy is back in perfect shape.