You knew Spike ate too many treats and that he ate a fair share of table scraps but you weren’t expecting to hear “overweight” at his latest check up with the veterinarian. While his heart, lungs, blood pressure and teeth checked out fine, his stout stature has landed him in the overweight category and your vet is suggesting he lose a couple pounds. What to do next?
Set Up a Plan
Well, before you ship your pooch off to the gym or invest in a doggie treadmill there are some easy things you can do at home to help your dog live a healthier life. The first thing you need to do is communicate with your veterinarian and together set clear weight goals for your dog. Ask your veterinarian if there is a particular dog food they recommend serving and how much exercise they advocate each week.
Once you set up a plan with your veterinarian, it’s time to get moving and start by switching up what your dog typically eats. For many families this may mean cutting out table scraps (no matter how much they beg) and less treats on a daily basis. There are plenty of dog foods in stores designed for overweight dogs, but be sure to pick one that is low in calories and is appropriate for your dog’s age and size.
Once you know what and how much your dog should be eating, it’s time to increase that exercise. Most dogs are not receiving enough physical activity on a daily basis, causing them to add on a couple pounds.
Most veterinarians will recommend at least 30 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace for the dog each day. So even when temperatures drop, rain or shine&mdashyour dog still needs that exercise. If the cold weather is keeping you both indoors, be creative with this exercise. Pick up a new toy that you can throw and hide in places around the house and entice your pooch to quickly go find it. Your dog will run around to find whatever toy that may be lurking in the distance.
Pay Attention and Give Praise
After both diet and exercise has been addressed, it is important to keep up with it and pay attention to your dog’s results. If you are seeing any drastic changes, consult with your veterinarian as sudden weight loss could do a number on your dog’s overall health. Last and certainly not least, reward your pooch for all of his hard work. While we don’t suggest topping them off with more treats, we do think positive praise and some much needed belly scratches will do the trick.
As always, when it comes to your dog’s health it is important to take it seriously. Before making any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise, consult with your veterinarian&mdashthere may be a pre-existing condition. Most importantly, help support your pet throughout this journey. Most dog’s can’t pick up a leash and walk themselves, so it’s up to you to put forth a little effort and get your dog on the right track to a healthier life.