It’s hard to resist a chonky boofer in all their fluffy glory. Those extra rolls and all that pudge qualifies them to be A-rated cuddle buddies, but that soft, pillowy stomach isn’t exactly a good thing. According to a 2016 study, 54% of dogs are overweight or obese. Your pup isn’t concerned with bikini season, but keeping up with their weight is an important part of their health. Obesity can seriously shorten their lifespan and impact their quality of life. Extra weight can stop them from chasing down that squirrel at the park or slow them down on walks. It even contributes to serious health issues like arthritis and heart disease. If you want what’s best for your dog, it’s time to help them lose weight.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Identify the Problem
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your dog has grown into a fuller figure. First, try feeling around your pup’s chest – if you can’t locate the rib cage, it might be time to make some changes. Vets gauge a dog’s weight based on a body condition score. The scale goes from 1-9 and evaluates a dog’s health weight. The ideal score for the average pampered pooch is a 5. Check out this chart to help determine your dog’s score.
2. Get Daily Exercise
If your pup is overweight, he/she probably isn’t getting enough exercise. Vets recommend that dogs get a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes of activity every day. Try going for a walk, playing fetch, socializing at the dog park, or even climbing stairs for exercise if you’re stuck inside.
3. Stop Free-Feeding
We admit it, we eat when we’re bored. It’s just so easy to reach in the cabinet and pull out a snack when there’s nothing else to do. If you free-feed your dog, you can bet they do the same thing. Free-feeding allows your dog to eat every time they’re bored, and if you leave them home alone every day, they get bored pretty often. All that boredom can lead to a dog that seriously needs to lose weight. Instead of leaving food out for your pup to snack on all day, try feeding them 2 to 4 smaller, nutritious meals per day on a set schedule as recommended by your vet.
4. Limit High-Calorie Treats
It can be hard to refuse those big puppy dog eyes, but treating your dog too often might be contributing to weight gain. All those calories can add up quickly, so make sure you’re keeping track how often your dog is eating outside of regular meal times, too. Find treats that have high-quality ingredients and won’t contribute to a fatty diet.
5. Don’t Give Up
Losing weight and learning to maintain a healthy lifestyle takes time. Be patient, and weigh your dog monthly or bi-monthly to record progress. You won’t notice your dog getting slimmer after only a few days of better eating and exercise. It’s a process that will take a lifetime. That sounds like a lot of work, but trust us, your dog’s health is always worth it.
6. Consult a Vet
If your dog still can’t shed the weight, it might be time to get a professional involved. A vet will find out if your dog’s weight is a sign of a larger medical problem, and advise you on the next steps you should take to keep your dog happy and healthy.