5 Weight Loss Tips for Your Older Dog
Older dogs need to be in shape for several reasons. Just as with humans, older dogs are more likely to suffer from arthritis and other medical conditions as they age, as well as becoming more easily fatigued. If they are carrying more weight, the chances of them living for less time or getting a condition such as canine arthritis increases. Ensuring your senior dog is a healthy weight will prevent him from finding his regular walks tough and assist in preventing many health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. If you believe your dog is overweight or the vet has advised you to help your dog in losing weight, follow these five weight loss tips for your older dog.
1. Change Your Dog’s Food
Just as certain foods are better for humans, there are dog foods that are tailor-made to help with weight loss and provide a healthier diet. Although these may cost more, you only want the best for your dog and spending a little extra money can aid in his weight loss journey and help to make him a happier, healthier dog. We often look at what we are feeding ourselves, but we do not look at the ingredients that go into many dog foods, and this is something we should be more aware of.
Grain-free dog food is one type of dog food that is good for weight loss, and it has a range of other benefits too. Why is grain free dog food a good option? Grains used in dog foods provide energy with the added advantage that it binds all of the ingredients together. Grain-free dog food uses peas and potato as a substitute, which are significantly better for your dog and also leaves them feeling fuller for longer. Grain-free dog food can aid with weight control and is gentle on your dog’s stomach. If your pet suffers from any sensitivities or allergies, this food is made with this in mind and is excellent for dogs with intolerances. As grain-free dog food can leave your dog feeling fuller for longer, you may find it is cheaper in the long run, as you aren’t using as many dog food sachets.
2. Feed Your Dog Good Fats
Within foods, there are good fats and bad fats. One good fat that is both beneficial for humans and dogs is omega-3 fatty acids, generally found in fish and this is yet another great reason to use grain-free dog food, as it is often made with fish. Although many people wouldn’t think about feeding their dog raw or cooked fish, it has a range of benefits and can aid in their weight-loss journey.
Unfortunately, not all dogs like fish and if this is the case, you can try to mix fish oil with foods that they do like.. Omega-3 fatty acids not only promote your older dog to lose weight, but they can also keep him feeling fuller for longer. When using fish oil, a little can go a long way and overusing it can hinder your dog’s weight loss, so be careful to read the instructions on how much to give him at each meal.
3. Get Everyone Involved
All dogs beg for food, and many of us cannot resist the urge to give in. Especially if you have children, you cannot measure how much food your dog is getting in a day and how may treats each family member is giving them. Explain the importance of this to your children if they are old enough to understand and, however hard it is, they must not overfeed your dog or feed him under the table.
Although it may feel hard to do so, if you do not already, you should try to eat in a separate room from your dog. If you often do not have the same meal times as the rest of your family due to work or other commitments, or the kids usually eat first, use this time to take your dog for a walk. This will mean no temptation for either the children or your dog. Make a journal or a group chat where the family can all write when the dog has eaten or had a treat; that way you all know how much your pup has eaten. Our furry friends can often be sneaky and beg for treats from different family members, meaning you never really know how much they have consumed.
Preventing Obesity in Your Dog
4. Reduce Portion Sizes
Once everyone is on board, reducing portion sizes is the next step. There is no use in reducing portion sizes if your dog can still go around your home and find food from several different family members. Cutting down portion sizes should be done slowly and steadily. Otherwise, your dog will still feel hungry. When you are on a diet yourself, you know how cutting down too quickly can cause you to be hungry and, unlike us, your hungry dog cannot then go to the cupboard and make themselves a snack.
Cut down on portion size by around five percent for a week or two and then do a weigh-in to see if it is helping. If you do not notice much difference, do the same again and gradually decrease until your dog begins to lose a healthy amount of weight. Once his weight loss is evident, you do not need to lower his portions anymore. Reducing your dog’s portion size too fast will affect his metabolism, and he will find it more difficult to lose weight.
5. Using Edible Chews
If your dog loves having an edible chew, it may be time to find one that is healthier for him. Edible chews can contain a lot more calories than you think and adding this to the amount of food they eat can cause your dog to become overweight easily. Many edible chews are low-fat and last for a long time, meaning your dog is occupied and less likely to want more food at meal times. This is an excellent distraction at your own meal times when your dog is likely to want the food you are eating, and it may stop his begging.
Be incredibly careful with edible chews though, as ones that are too big for your older dog’s mouth may lead to tooth loss. As dogs age, their teeth become more brittle and having a large bone that they need to use a lot of pressure to break could cause more harm than good. If you are unsure of what is best, check out this fantastic guide to finding the right edible chew for your dog..
If you are looking to help your dog lose weight, why not also use this as a time to lose weight too. This means you will feel more motivated to get yourself and your dog out of the house for more regular or strenuous walks.
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids is great for older dogs as it aids with weight loss and can help in preventing many other health conditions. Get your whole family on board to ensure your greedy friend isn’t sneaking treats from your children or partner.
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