Most of us do know that many Westerners struggle when it comes to their weight. But how many of us recognize that it is true with many of our dogs too? If we consider the US for example, nearly half of the American dogs suffer from excess weight. Just like humans, carrying that excess weight exposes them to the risk of developing health-related problems like diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and osteoarthritis. While that is bad news, the good news is that we, the dog owners can help our canines maintain a healthy weight by paying little extra attention to their food.
American Dogs are Not Alone in Fighting Overweight
Although over 50% of American dogs are overweight, the obesity epidemic is across most Western nations where love for pet dogs appear to be significantly more compared to their Eastern counterparts. The sad part of the problem is that dog owners get to notice the problem long after it has started. Every single day you live with the dog and therefore it is only natural that you miss the changes in weight.
Importance of Healthy Dog Treats
Every dog loves its treats and therefore overfeeding becomes easier and dogs do love food more than the humans. We cannot think of a single dog owner who would want to see their dog happy by providing some of those lovely healthy dog treats. The trouble, however, is that the extra calories add up pretty fast. Exercises do help your dog lose weight but that is just about half the equation. Let us say, you ate just junk food with high calorie all day long, you would have quite a bit of struggle keeping those extra pounds off, no matter how much exercise you do. This is what happens to your dog too.
At the same time, if you put your dog on a lean diet fearing obesity, it would be counterproductive. So, it is our duty to ensure that our dogs have the right amount of healthy food every day. All dogs are not the same and therefore it takes a while for dog owners to understand the right balance for a particular breed of dog. But, once you design a personalized diet for your dog, you can not only keep it lean, but all extend its life. And, it pays when you feed less to your dog. Researchers hold the view that the life span of your dog can increase by as much as 25% or 1.8 years across its median lifespan.
Understand Instructions On Your Dog Food Carefully
You have certainly glanced through the labels on your dog food. These labels do provide a decent estimate of how much your dog should eat, depending on its size. But these instructions do not account for the age or activity level of your dog. All dog foods have specific recommendations on portion size based on the weight of the dog. But, the problem is that they are not uniform. The problem is that if you start feeding your dog at the higher end of the recommendation, you could end up overfeeding the dog by as much as 50% compared to a dog owner who sticks to the lower end of the recommendation.
How Can The Food Intake of Your Dog Be Decreased?
Reducing the intake of your dog accurately and slowly is the key to achieving the objective. So you can use a scale or measuring cup for every meal that your dog eats. If you are presently feeding your canine according to the recommended measure on the label and you find that he is gaining weight, decrease the meal in a graded manner over a week or two. Let us say by about 10% and track the weight of your dog over one or two weeks. If you find no improvement with the weight, reduce the meal by another 5% or so. Notice that the goal should not be reducing the food by 25% in one go but rather understand the correct quantum of food that is just right for your dog. Major factors to be considered are the age of your dog, activity level and overall health so that you can figure out the calories your do should get every day.
Make Slight Changes To The Meal
Most often you won’t need to find a diet dog meal and instead, you can make slight changes taking only guidance from the label and adjusting the portion to the needs of your dog. Sticking to the same type of food every day and avoiding those high-calorie treats as much as you can is another helpful measure. Also remember to check the weight of your dog one a fortnight or even a month and keep a note of that every time you get the weight, of course with the date alongside. Another reminder is that you should always exercise caution with the labels on dog foods since they are not exact.
Feed Less So Your Dog Can Live For More Years
A study by researchers spanning over 2 decades and involving 48 Retrievers as subjects found that diet restriction can impact the life span and age-related experiences for the dog.
The study paired these dogs when they were only 8 weeks age with one dog being fed 25% less than the other dog throughout the existence of both the dogs. Biochemical analysis of serum was performed and the condition of the body was scored while body composition was measured until the dogs attained 12 years of age. The study was triggered by a substantial decrease in the onset of orthopedic diseases in dogs (Labrador Retrievers) that received 25% less food
Personalize Your Dog’s Diet
The goal is to feed your dog less and therefore you cannot ignore the calories in all the treats when you measure the calorie intake every day. Many of us assume that we are good at estimating the amount of food for the dog, but in fact, we are from that in reality. Therefore, do not shy away from using a scale or a measuring cup. Personalized diet for your dog means your dog should keep lean and you need an accurate measurements to achieve that.