By Sara B. Hansen
Research has shown that 22-44% of pets are substantially heavier than their ideal body weight. Being overweight is the most prevalent nutrition concern for dogs and cats.
Being just a few pounds overweight can significantly decrease the lifespan and quality of life for your dog. So it’s critical to maintain a healthy dog weight.
The good news is keeping your pup at a healthy dog weight is something owners can manage by controlling what their dogs eat and making sure they get enough exercise. We talked with Dr. Jennifer Adolphe,
senior nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, to get her tips.
Here’s what she has to say.
What is a healthy dog weight?
To assess your dog’s weight, use a body score chart.
Look for a proportioned, slightly hourglass body shape when viewed from above, a slight tummy tuck and a thin covering of body fat over the ribs and spine. When running your hands along your dog’s body, you should be able to feel the ribs and hips without pressing hard. It is also important to regularly weigh your pet to monitor for changes.
If you determine that your dog needs to shed a few pounds, determine how much you are currently feeding and cut this amount down slightly. Ideally, your pet’s food should be weighed, not measured or free-fed, so that you can accurately determine how much you feed. After a week, weigh your pet to see how much weight has been lost. A 1-2% body weight loss per week is ideal as a rapid decline can be harmful to your dog.
While you can simply feed less of the current food your dog receives, weight loss recipes are another option to help manage your dog’s weight. These foods usually allow you to feed a similar volume of food while reducing calories. Our NOW FRESH™ Senior dog and cat recipes, as well as our NOW FRESH™ Small and Large Breed Senior dog recipes, contain a moderate amount of protein, reduced fat, and a moderate level of fiber to create balanced diets that are lower in calories to promote weight control while helping pets feeling satisfied.
How much should I feed my dog?
The feeding guidelines on dog food bags are a great place to start, but adjustments will most likely need to be made to create an individualized feeding plan for your dog.
Should I adjust how much I feed my dog as he gets older?
Dogs are often less active as they get older and their metabolism slows down. You will likely need to feed less as the years go by. Throughout your dog’s life is it important to monitor your dog’s weight and maintain an ideal body condition score as described previously. In addition to regular vet visits, ensuring a healthy dog weight is one of the best things you can do to help your dog live a long, healthy life.
Our NOW FRESH™ recipes are specially formulated for puppies, adult, and senior dogs to meet their nutritional requirements throughout life.
How do you determine that your dog is getting enough exercise?
Most dogs will never turn up their nose at a romp outside and they make terrific exercise companions. Dogs, like us, need about 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. Some dogs with high energy levels may need even more, high-intensity exercise to keep them happy. Exercise has numerous health benefits for both you and your dog by helping to maintain ideal body weight and promote the maintenance of lean muscle tissue for overall health.
Are there healthy human foods that you recommend incorporating into your pet’s diet to help them maintain a healthy weight?
While the correct amount of a complete and balanced dog food is all your dog needs, some low-calorie vegetables, such as pumpkin or green beans, are a delicious and nutritious option for keeping your dog satisfied to maintain a healthy weight. Veggies are also a good option to use as low-calorie treats. Make sure to introduce any new foods gradually to avoid digestive upset.
What about treats?
We all love to give our pets a treat or two once in a while. It is important to carefully monitor the number of treats you feed to avoid unnecessary calories.
Treats can add up fast so it is recommended that you portion out your dog’s daily treats allowance into a separate container. When the treat container is empty, that is all for the day.
If your dog needs to shed a few pounds, restrict those extra treats and say no to table scraps.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching Dog’s Best Life. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].