The best dog food for overweight dogs is a relevant topic for dogs of all ages, but the health effects of canine obesity is more evident in older dogs. The health problems senior dogs face such as arthritis, kidney or heart disease, can only be compounded by extra weight. But canine obesity is dangerous for your dog at any age so it’s important to keep your pet’s weight as close as possible to his normal, natural weight.
When people see a fat dog, they often treat it lightly, even humorously. They consider the pet spoiled rotten by loving owners or lucky to be living in the lap of luxury. The truth is that obesity can be a silent killer for your beloved pet and can easily shorten his life by as much as 2 years. That’s well over a decade for you and me.
The dangers are real, but many pet owners are unaware
O.K. Like many pet parents, let’s say that you were unaware of the potential hazards of canine obesity and now your dog is well over his natural weight. This article is not about berating loving dog owners for letting their pets get fat, but about helping you get him back on the right track and out of dangerous territory.
Most all pet owners spoil their animals because they love them not because they’re trying to help them into an early grave. Maybe you are in the habit of scraping the remainder of your dinner into his supper bowl so he can taste how good fried chicken is too! Who knew the occasional small slice of pizza (which he could wolf down in 3 gulping bites) could be such a health risk?
I was ‘guilty’ of the same thing once upon a time, before I worked at a veterinary clinic and witnessed firsthand the troublesome problems faced by overweight pets.
Motivation For You: Knowing The Risks Your Chubby Chum Faces
Although the overweight dog gets to sample ‘scrumptious’ morsels, his quality of life is lowered because lugging around extra pounds takes its toll. His skeletal joints and muscles are affected as well as his internal organ systems:
- Extra weight puts extra pressure on joints, which causes cartilage deterioration. This can lead to arthritis, even in a young dog.
- The ligaments that hold your dog’s knee joints in place (and are essential for his mobility) are notoriously vulnerable to added weight. If they snap, expensive surgery is the only solution (besides the unthinkable one of having to put your beloved pet down due to obesity). Weight loss significantly reduces the risk of both of the above potential conditions.
- Canine obesity is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can even predispose him to diabetes.
- The incidence of tumors is higher in pets with excess weight.
- If your faithful friend ever has to be put under anesthesia for any reason, (whether a simple procedure or major surgery) there is an added risk. An overweight dog’s heart and lungs must work much harder during an anesthetic episode and they often take much longer waking up.
- Overweight dogs can develop extra skin folds which create dark, moist places that bacteria love to hang out in. His coat looks unhealthy and he’s got a distinct body odor. These symptoms indicate a skin infection.
The good news: You can take charge of the situation and your dog’s weight issue and avoid these scary scenarios. Weight loss for your precious pet involves the same strategies we humans deal with: Diet and Exercise.
The best food for your paunchy pooch should have certain essential qualities:
- Fewer calories and less fat content than regular dog food.
- Increased fiber. Fiber provides bulk but has very few usable calories so he will still feel full after meals.
- Adequate protein levels. Although you want your dog to take in fewer calories, you still want to make sure he gets all the protein he needs.
- The best dog food for overweight dogs should also provide the necessary vitamins and minerals your dog needs to stay healthy.
- Fortified with probiotics! ~ Probiotics help your dog’s digestive tract function properly. The beneficial bacteria will help him avoid digestive upset as you change his food.
- Let’s not forget one important factor that is of utmost importance to your canine kid: It Should Be Tasty!
We zeroed in on one of the best of the dry dog food choices for effective canine weight loss:
Fortunately, this dry food goes hand in hand with a top choice for canned food:
This is a fact and I have experienced it firsthand: Sticking to a diet for your dog can be even more difficult than sticking to one yourself! He may be used to being spoiled with ‘junk food’ and when he gives you the big-eyed, pleading pup look, it’s hard to resist. But his health is in your hands, and whatever choice you make, he’ll be fine with it. You may have to cheer him on with affectionate encouragement, but his ultimate goal is to please you, not eat foods that make his body feel bad. As with our own diet willpower, we have to be strong.
If your canine kid has been spoiled to the max with fatty, high calorie people food, you may have to switch him to a healthier diet gradually. This means gradually adding in more and more of the diet you want him to eat, each time you feed him. In this way you can slowly wean him onto the healthy, weight-reducing diet.
You should always consult your veterinarian before making major changes in your dog’s diet, but the good doctor will most likely be thrilled that you are committing to helping your bulky buddy drop some pounds! He or she will advise you on how much he should lose, and what a safe time frame would be for the weight loss to happen.
You can add certain veggies to his meals for added bulk and fiber
A few years ago, my senior dog Zo, had put on some extra pounds due to the fact that his activity levels had dropped as he got older…but I admit I had also started spoiling him with extra treats and people food.
I had a long talk with Zo’s doctor, and she recommended a weight loss regimen for us to follow. She told me that if I wanted to add people food to his supper bowl, I should add nutritious, low calorie, high fiber veggies such as green beans, carrots, or pumpkin. He said just stick with either fresh or canned with no salt added.
I offered veggies to him about 3 times a week and he loved them! I was able to get him back down to a healthy weight in a matter of months by closely monitoring his diet and increasing our exercise time together.
Exercise is crucial for successful canine weight management
You can feed your precious pet the best dog food for overweight dogs for the rest of his life and get some good results. But really successful canine weight loss combines diet and exercise.
He maybe reluctant to exercise because of joint pain or because he tires easily due to the extra weight. So it’s up to you to ease him into a regular exercise program after you have a talk with your vet. Start slowly; any exercise at this beginning point is going to be beneficial.
If he can’t make it around the block, then walk him up the street and back. He’ll learn to treasure the time spent with you and soon he’ll be eager to go for his walk and you can slowly increase the distance. Your best buddy would much rather spend one-on-one time with you than eat fatty foods that make him feel bad.
If your cuddly canine is comfortable in water, swimming is a great exercise and a fun adventure for him with minimal impact on his joints.
You can do this. Your pudgy pal’s longevity may depend on it. You may even decide to go on the weight loss program together…double the healthy fun!
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