Top Tips for Managing Your Dog’s Weight

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Just like humans, a dog’s health can suffer if they experience weight problems. Being either underweight or overweight can carry certain risks for a dog, so it’s important that you recognise and address any issues. Although it’s tempting to reward your dog with tasty treats or let them enjoy a taste of dog-safe human food, you could be doing more harm than good if you let them put on too much weight.

With these top tips, however, you can learn how to feed, nurture, and reward your dog while caring for them and managing their weight…

1. Understand how your dog should look and feel

Weighing your dog at regular intervals will enable you to ensure they’re maintaining a healthy weight, providing you know what weight range is ideal for their breed, sex, and age. However, the most accurate method of weighing your dog is at the vet's using specialist scales. Hopefully, your pup won’t be at the vets too often, so it’s good to be able to keep a casual eye on their weight too.

All breeds are different, so learning what looks and feels right for your dog is an important part of pet ownership. Many people are surprised by how lean some breeds are, so don’t automatically assume your dog is underweight if their ribs are well defined or they carry very little bodyweight.

Instead, discuss your dog’s weight and body shape with their vet and find out what’s appropriate for their breed. Stockier pups, like bulldogs, are naturally going to be rounder than leaner breeds, such as greyhounds, so take the time to find out what’s best for your dog.

2. Feed them the right food

There are lots of different options when it comes to feeding your dog. Some owners favour a natural, raw diet, while others prefer to give their pups a mix of wet and dry dog food. Whether you’re cooking up a special meal for your dog every night or feeding them a diet of dry kibble, ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

If in doubt, consult your vet, particularly if you have any concerns over your pet’s health or their ability to gain, maintain, or lose weight. There are special dog foods that are designed to assist with weight loss or weight gain, so your vet may advise you to use one of these for a limited time if your dog’s weight isn’t within an appropriate range.

Most dogs will rush to their bowl as soon as you fill it, but this doesn’t mean you should feed your dog every time they ask for food. Instead, calculate what your dog’s daily food intake should be and decide whether to split this over two or three meals to keep them satiated.

3. Making feeding time enjoyable

If your dog’s weight isn’t where it should be, it’s important to find out why. As well as ruling out medical causes, you’ll want to watch their eating habits carefully. Dog’s who eat too quickly may tempt you into overfeeding them, so a slow feeding dog bowl could help to stop them wolfing their food down.

If your dog is a little underweight and they routinely regurgitate their food, it may mean they’re not getting the nutrients they need. It’s important that you talk to your vet about problems of this kind, so that health problems can be diagnosed or ruled out. However, making your dog’s mealtimes more comfortable could help. With a raised dog bowl, for example, you can ensure that your pup maintains the perfect stance while eating, thus reducing the chances of them regurgitating following a meal.

4. Increase the amount of exercise your dog gets

Exercise is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, so be sure to stick to a regular regime with your dog. Daily walks are essential, of course, but a long run will help your dog to burn off energy and excess weight. Exercise should typically be maintained for underweight dog’s too, as it can help to build muscle and increase strength. While different breeds benefit from varying amounts of exercise, most dogs will thrive with varied routines, games in the park, and moderate to long lead walks.

Caring for Your Dog

Managing your dog’s weight is just one element of caring for your pup but it’s an important one. If dogs are overweight, it can have a detrimental effect on their health, and being underweight could be indicative of an undiagnosed medical problem. Ignoring your dog’s pleading eyes every time you open the fridge might be difficult but tough love could help your dog to live a long, healthy, and happy life.  

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