Just like their owners, many dogs face weight issues throughout their lives. Indeed, 53% of dogs in the US are estimated to be overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Many breeds are predisposed to obesity, while many owners aren’t armed with enough information on pet nutrition to make the right choices for their dogs’ diets. Here, we’ll go through how to help your patients maintain a healthy weight with effective nutritional support.
Excess weight can cause discomfort, and obesity can bring on serious health problems, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Lung problems
- Sore joints and orthopedic issues
- Torn cruciate ligaments
- Hip dysplasia
- Immune system problems
- Skin problems
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Mammary tumors
Building a canine nutrition plan
The simplest way to maintain a healthy weight in your canine patients is to be more actively involved in their diet. Here are a few steps owners can take:
- Assess food and portions. Feeding the right amount of high quality food containing healthy fats will help dogs feel satisfied while still maintaining an ideal body weight and preventing obesity.
- Don’t overindulge. Consider treats as part of the daily food allowance. Many healthy treats have little impact on a dog’s overall calorie intake, such as blueberries, yams, carrots, and greens.
- Create structure. Many owners lose track of how much their dogs eat when they free-feed. Instead, create a meal plan that fits both the dog and your client’s lifestyles. This will eliminate grazing and allow pet owners to better visualize how much their dogs are actually eating.
What should dogs eat for weight loss?
Dogs need high quality proteins and right amounts of the correct types of fat. Here are a few things to know about protein:
- Animals manufacture amino acids from protein.
- Young animals need more protein for growth.
- Senior animals need more protein because they cannot manufacture the needed elements as well as younger animals.
Dogs also need vitamins and trace minerals, like L-carnitine for strong, healthy muscles. Protein burns more calories and supports strong muscles, and protein and the right fats provide a feeling of satisfaction. Consider calories, too. If your client feeds kibble, choose a type with no more than 400 calories per cup.
When giving tips on choosing the right dog food, encourage owners to read labels and steer clear of fillers, sugar, corn, soy, dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Though commercial prescription diets may seem the right answer, be careful of foods that offer too many calories but not enough nourishment.