Dogs can enjoy longer, healthier lives when they are in good shape. But just like us, dogs can sometimes find it a struggle to reach and maintain ideal weight. Here are four achievable steps you can take to help your dog stay fit and healthy in the long term.
1. Feed for fitness
A nutritionally balanced diet with the right level of calories is essential for healthy weight. Stick to portion sizes recommended by your vet and use a measuring cup to stay accurate. If your dog is on a weight management programme, aim to feed two or three smaller meals per day rather than one larger meal. This will help prevent feelings of hunger.
Treats are part of your relationship with your dog, but too many treats of the wrong sort can quickly add up to unhealthy weight gain. You can reduce the risk of overfeeding with treats by:
- Avoiding fatty treats and leftovers (they may seem like a fun treat, but leftovers can add many unwanted calories – and in the wrong nutritional form, too)
- Trying healthier treats like PURINA® PRO PLAN® Light Biscuits
- Keeping a record of how many treats you're giving by putting a treat in a box every time you give your dog a treat. At the end of the day, you’ll easily be able to see how much ‘extra’ you have given
- Giving attention rather than treats when your dog begs
2. Exercise for energy
Whether you’re strolling through the woods or playing fetch in the park, exercise and play are vital to your relationship together. They are also a fun way to help your dog lose weight and stay in shape. Variety is the spice of life, so try mixing your exercise routine up in the following ways:
- Use toys to make a walk with your dog more fun – if your dog loves to fetch, why not use a tennis racquet to send the ball even further?
- Try walking with other dog owners – when dogs play together, they tend to burn more calories
- Consider varying your walking routine – changing the route and switching the pace makes exercise more exciting
But remember, old or arthritic dogs might not be able to exercise in the same way. Consult your vet for the best course of action.
3. Watch the weight
If you are helping your dog lose weight, set some reachable goals. This will make it easy and fun to measure your dog’s progress. A good target to aim for is 2% weight loss per week. Consider keeping a progress chart of your dog’s weight, measuring the waistline and monitoring body shape with the Body Condition System. For a more official, accurate assessment, make an appointment with your vet.
4. Don’t give up
Dogs should lose weight gradually: it is a slow process. Don’t let that deter you or your dog. Gradual is great and means the weight is more likely to stay off. PURINA® PRO PLAN® All Sizes Adult with OPTIWEIGHT® is a low-fat, low-calorie diet that’s made with ingredients expertly selected to help manage appetite and feelings of hunger. It’s scientifically formulated for successful long-term weight loss.
With the right nutrition, the support of your vet and a new exercise routine, your dog will be able to achieve healthy weight – and you’ll both be able to make the most of the amazing world you share.