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No Table Scraps! Preventing Obesity in Dogs

by: Tammy Gagne

How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
Extra weight can sneak up on dogs just like it does on people. An indulgent treat here and there or an especially well-rounded scoop of kibble rarely causes a problem, but making either move a habit can add several pounds to your dog’s weight over time, often before you even realize it. When they gain weight, dogs sustain a higher risk of suffering from multiple health problems—including arthritis, orthopedic injuries, even heart issues. A few extra pounds may seem like nothing to a person, but for a dog, this seemingly insignificant weight gain can take weeks or even months to lose. A better approach is preventing obesity altogether.


The simplest way to keep your pet’s weight in check is by feeding him dog food, but whether you buy prepackaged food or prepare his diet yourself, sticking to your plan is essential. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best number of calories for your pet based on his age, breed, and size. Feeding a healthy food is only the first step, though. You also must offer the proper amount of food at each feeding. A dog can gain weight by eating too much of any food—even low-calorie formulas intended for weight loss.
Treating your canine companion to healthy human foods like raw carrots or lean meats can also be part of his routine, but be sure to adjust the portions of his regular food so that these treats don’t cause a problem. Avoid high-calorie or nutritionally deficient human snacks, too. Even in moderation, feeding these junk foods can make some dogs turn their noses up to carrots the next day. Skipping them completely means you will never have to break the habit with your pet. And of course, make sure that everything your dog eats is safe for dogs. Beyond well-known dangers like chocolate, seemingly innocuous foods like grapes, garlic, and onions (along with common ingredients like the sweetener xylitol) can also harm canines.
You should certainly factor your pet’s activity level into his diet plan, but remember that even active animals have calorie limits. If your dog participates in an organized activity such as agility, for example, a food higher in fat will give him the energy he needs. If you feed too much of it and he doesn’t burn off the additional fat, however, it will cause him to gain weight. 


Eating right is only part of the equation for keeping your dog’s weight within a healthy range. Regular exercise is also essential. Getting outdoors and breathing fresh air is good for your pet both physically and mentally. Just the change of scenery can turn an otherwise boring day into a fun field trip. And making a routine of getting your dog on his feet and moving around creates momentum. After just a few days, you may find that your dog even initiates the activity. 
Daily exercise serves a dual purpose for keeping your dog at a healthy weight. First, it provides a way for your pet to burn calories. How many depends on the length and intensity of the activity. (Where you exercise can also make a difference. A walk or run with multiple hills, for instance, provides a better workout than one on level ground.) Second, sticking to an exercise routine can help increase your pet’s metabolism, the rate at which your dog burns calories. Even the number of calories he burns when resting will increase as a result.
More intense exercise, like running after a ball, causes a dog’s brain to release endorphins. Dog and humans are quite similar in this way. As hard as it can be for some of us to take that first step, think of how great we feel after we exercise. Dogs receive this same benefit from being active. Remember to watch your pet’s signals, however. Dogs can overheat easily, which can cause serious health problems, so build your exercise routine slowly and take frequent water breaks during outings. Stop exercising whenever your dog shows signs of fatigue.


Food has been shown to be a highly effective motivator for dogs in training, but you don’t have to sabotage your pet’s health in order to teach him commands or tricks. Instead of feeding him high-calorie snacks during training, use your dog’s regular food instead. If you are attending an evening training class, pour his regular kibble serving into your treat pouch before heading out the door. Your dog will happily work to earn this reward without consuming any extra calories.
Bear in mind that food isn’t the only means of rewarding a dog for a job well done. A heartfelt “Good boy!” will please your pet more than you might realize. Most dogs truly enjoy making their owners happy. Effusive praise goes a long way in both training your pet and making him feel loved and appreciated.
Sometimes we all just want to spoil our pets. At these times, it can be easy to convince ourselves that just a few slices of pepperoni from a slice of pizza won’t hurt a dog—right? The good news is that we can give our animals a tasty treat like this without upping those numbers on the scale. You can indulge your dog’s urge to snack with Nylabone Flavor Frenzy Chew Toys, which come in delicious flavors like meat supreme pizza, Philly cheesesteak, and birthday cake. Whereas edible rewards must be doled out judiciously, your dog can chew on these zero-calorie treats as often as he likes.

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