Have you struggled to get your pet to lose weight?
You’re not alone.
Actually, the scientific description of obesity is as an “incurable disease”.
The ‘incurable’ bit is because once a pet is overweight, its metabolism slows down permanently.
That’s right. Even when they’ve slimmed down, their metabolism plods along at their heavier-self’s rate. This slower metabolism means they burn fewer calories. Thus they regain weight easily… hence why diets are so difficult.
But once you know this fact you can beat the odds.
FACT: The life expectancy of overweight dogs is 2 ½ years less than their slim dog cousins.
Obesity and life expectancy are uneasy bedfellows.
So here’s what you CAN do to make a difference and claim back those extra years with your fur-friend.
Exercise Protocols that Work!
Deep down we all know that weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than burning.
A popular way to reduce weight is to diet, which means – restricting the caloric intake.
But when the pet’s metabolism runs more slowly, this heaps insult on injury. You have to really cut back on their calories… as in feed 30 -50% less than before. That’s a whole heap of nothing in their food bowl.
Hence, why exercise is so important – it keeps the metabolic rate higher. But for exercise to work well you need a plan. The plan starts with a vet checkup. Ask for guidance about what to avoid in terms of what’s too much exercise for an overweight dog, and the signs to watch for that your pet is struggling.
A PetPace collar monitors your pet’s vital signs and other health parameters to ensure that the weight loss rate is not affecting their health.
A Little Extra Exercise Each Week
Start by adding in a third extra activity to each day.
For example, if your dog goes for two walks a day, add in a third. If your cat has two play sessions a day, fit in another one.
Alternatively, if you haven’t time for three walks a day then walk a third further distance –or go out for a third longer – than before.
Other options to add in that little extra effort include making the walk more difficult, such as choosing a route that goes uphill (instead of on the flat.)
Each week increase the time or intensity by about 10- 20% (depending on your dog’s fitness level). So a half-an-hour walking a day becomes 35 minutes in Week 2, and so on, until reaching the goal your vet set for you.
To stay on track with this, a PetPace collar is invaluable. It tracks and records your dog’s activity levels so there’s no guessing, cheating, or making assumptions. The app also allows tou to set goals and reminders and receive feedback.
Seeing their activity graph provides a prompt that makes all the difference between success or failure. As that activity graph goes up, so their weight goes down!
Other no-effort suggestions for added activity:
- Make your pet work for their food. This not only burns calories, but gives mental stimulation to stop them comfort eating.
- Scatter the dog’s kibble in the yard, to have them seek it out
- Use a puzzle feeder such as Kong or Buster Cube.
- Use a slow feeder. You can make your own by pressing wet food into an ice-cube tray, putting kibble in a toilet-roll tower, or improvising with egg boxes
- Put kibble inside a sealed cardboard box or rolled up newspaper. Then Fido has to expend energy tearing their way into the treats
- Obedience Training: Brush up on those basic dog obedience training skills. Practicing recall or walking to heel in the yard, is great exercise and prevents boredom.
Your Chance to Take Up a New Activity with Your Dog
Why not take this as an opportunity to do more with your dog?
Now could be the time to take up a new dog-inclusive hobby for canine conditioning. From agility, Doga and Flyball, to Canicrosss, dog obedience, tracking, and freestyle dancing…the skies the limit for fun things to do with two and four-legs.
Just Do It!
Don’t think about it, do it!
The thing is, there’s nothing as encouraging as seeing a difference. And PetPace helps you keep tabs on how much activity the pet is doing. Thus, you can structure the pet’s exercise week-on-week and be their own personal trainer! Canine conditioning that works.
Know Thine Enemy (the Calorie) and How to Fight Back
OK, so the other side of the overweight dog equation is calorie intake. Urgh! But don’t panic!
There are reasons why that diet didn’t work in the past. Once you understand why, you don’t have to make the same mistake twice!
The Unpalatable Truth
An overweight dog doesn’t get that way overnight…it’s a long haul to acquire those extra layers of love!
Have you ever put your dog on a diet, only to have them gain weight?
Cutting back on their regular food often gives disappointing results.
This is because you’re first battle is to stop further weight gain. Realistically, to get a pet to lose weight requires reducing calories by 30 – 50%.
This means cutting meals by half and NO treats. Can you do this…in the long term?
And here’s a thing. Cutting amounts of regular food in half, also cuts their vitamins and mineral content by 50%. Not a good idea! Which is why special weight-loss diets have the edge.
There are different types of weight-loss diets for pets. These give your pet the edge to shed those pounds and reveal that inner slim dog.
Here’s an idea of the foods out there and how they work:
- High Fiber: These high fiber diets are nutritionally balanced and give a pleasant feeling of fullness.
- High Protein: The so-called “Catkins” diet, is restricted in carbohydrates and encourage the body to burn fat reserves
- Metabolic: Switch on genes that increase metabolic rate
Your vet is a great resource to find what’s best for your pet.
The SECRET to Diet Success
Want to know a secret? OK, well here are two.
#1: Feed the pet for the weight you want them to be, not their current weight
#2: Weigh (on digital scales) their daily food allowance
Throw out those measuring cups! Even if you fill to a measure line, the difference from day to day is make or break for that waistline.
Life doesn’t have to be dull.
When those puppy-dog eyes stare at you beseechingly, these treats are healthy and low-calorie.
- French beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Ice cubes…such fun!
Oh, and be careful with carrots. The latter are a root-storage vegetable and relatively high in carbohydrate. Too many carrot treats has the potential for extra poundage! Sorry.
So there you have it, practical and effective ways for weight loss in pets.
- Get a vet to check your overweight dog’s health
- Gradually increase your pet’s activity by 1/3
- Use PetPace to build a week-on-week exercise regime that works
- Switch to a weight loss diet
- Measure out the daily food allowance
- Use puzzle feeders
- Take up a new activity with your dog for added canine conditioning
Now go and have fun with your sleeker, fitter fur-friend. Remember, slim dogs live longer!