The new year can be a great time for focusing on healthy resolutions, not just people, but dogs, too. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, roughly 53 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. After being cooped up indoors for months on end and typically eating more than usual, the general overeating and inactivity of winter affects us all.
If you need to help your dog shake off that holiday weight and make a fresh start in the new year, here’s five steps to get there:
1. Do Your Research On Healthy Weight
Does your dog need to lose weight in the first place? Before trying to help your dog shed some pounds, you may want to do a little research and figure out what a good weight range is for their breed. Some dogs look chubby when they’re at their healthy weight, whereas a leaner breed like, say, a whippet, may look underweight even when they’re in their ideal range. Know the right weight, consult with Van Dyke Animal Clinic if need be, and set that as a target.
2. Transition To A New Food
Sometimes the culprit of weight gain is a very rich brand of dog food. Just swapping food brands out can work, but this may cause an upset stomach in your pooch if your dog’s not too fussy to eat the new food in the first place. Try blending the foods, with the ratio favoring the new brand more and more each day until you’ve finally made the full switch.
3. Set Feeding Times
Some of us just leave food out for our dog all day. This is fine if your dog knows how to moderate their own eating. Not surprisingly, not all dogs do. Try refilling the food bowl only during feeding time. If your dog likes to scarf it down all at once, then sooner or later, they’ll get the idea and start to slow down.
4. Monitor Treats
We use treats to teach tricks, to reward good behavior and just to let our dogs know we love them when we’re too busy to play. Helping a dog stay healthy means watching how many treats they’re getting. Limiting to one treat a day, or a few treats a week is a good idea. Make sure that everyone in the home is in on the plan. You can use a whiteboard or memo pad to let others know how many treats the dog has had, or you can just let each other know when you’re letting them have a treat.
5. Get Outside!
This one will help you meet your own fitness goals, too. Your dog may love their yard, but they really, really love getting out and going on an adventure with their people. Lutz is a beautiful place, get out there, take your buddy for a walk once a day, and get them out to the park, the beach, hiking trails and so on whenever you can.
As with losing weight yourself, it’s all about consistency and discipline. It requires a change of habit. To create a wellness plan for your dog, make an appointment with Van Dyke Animal Clinic today!