Here are five quick facts and tips for helping you to maintain your pup's weight or to kick start their weight loss. These tips and facts are coming to you from Dr. Ken Lambrecht at the West Towne Veterinary Center - each year, the practice runs a contest called Pets Reducing for Rescues to promote healthy weight loss with the added benefit of helping rescued animals.
1. Hunger is a drive, begging is a behavior
Don't mistake begging behavior for hunger! Many dogs have learned that they can get attention, in the form of food, when they pout and get that "puppy look" in their eyes.
- Substitute carrots, green beans, or other low calorie snacks to share
- Give them a different form of attention: play, pet, or brush them instead!
2. Inclement weather and walks
Those cold winter months are rough on all of us, human and pet alike. Getting outside for walks can be unbearable, and in some cases dangerous.
- Friend or neighbor that loves all things winter could help you and your pup out
- There are great doggie day care centers in the area that provide inside space for activity
- Of course exercise is important, but the amount you feed is even more important, during lower activity months feed your dog less (as much as 5 to 15% less)
3. Measure precisely
We hear it all the time with our diets: portion control. One of the biggest reasons for lack of progress towards ideal weight is often the wrong size cup, leading to an imprecise amount and rounding. Just 10 calories more per day will lead to 1.0 lb of weight gain in a year!
- Use a cooking measuring cup of 8 oz or 1 cup
- Pick up a pet food company measuring cup from the center
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh food
- Pre-measure daily amounts to keep everyone "honest"!
4. Count Calories in treats
We often see that dogs are being feed the right amount of food but too many treats. A dog should only get 10% of their total calories in treats. Example: a 30 lb dog on a 500 calorie diet should only get 50 treat calories. Treats are great, but those calories can add up quick!
- Using a chart that helps count you dog's treat calories
- Remember those veggies noted earlier? Carrots and green beans offer a great low calorie snack
- Using a food app on your phone or in a notebook
5. Follow the rules but keep it fun!
This is a fun activity and calorie tracker that keeps the whole family engaged in your cat's weight loss journey! We commonly refer to these as "PNAs" and use them in conjunction with our physical exams and blood work to help all pets get to ideal weight.
Head over to http://petnutritionalliance.org/ for information on food safety, risks and benefits to raw or grain free diets, and a great nutrition calculator. Print your dog's out to hang on the fridge!