Fundmentals of Dog Weight Loss

If your dog is looking a little wider than she should, it may be time to think about a dog weight loss program.

Weight gain can sneak up on your dog. A few too many between-meal snacks, not enough exercise and, before you know it, your dog's ribcage has disappeared under a layer of excess fat.

Veterinarians use a variety of standards to determine a dog's condition, but the easiest way to determine fitness is the rib test. Run your hands along your dog's side. You should be able to feel individual ribs covered with a light layer of flesh. If you can actually see your dog's ribs, she may be too thin. If you can't find anything resembling a rib, it's time for a dog diet.

Pet weight loss techniques are not very different from well-established guidelines for people: consume fewer calories and exercise more. There is no getting around this basic physiological requirement. Your dog's weight problem could be a simple case of overfeeding.

How Much Are You Really Feeding?

Read the label on your dog's food-it will tell you the recommended amount to feed based on your dog's ideal weight. Compare this amount to what you are feeding. A cup you use to dole out the food may hold far more than one standard measuring cup of food. Cut back to the recommended serving size and the weight may come off.

Dog Food For Weight Loss

If you can't bear to reduce the amount of food your dog is eating, consider switching to a lower-calorie, diet dog food. These formulas contain few calories, reduced fat and additional fiber to help your dog feel full. These foods are designed to be nutritionally complete and used in place of regular dog food. They can be fed indefinitely.

Tip: Be sure the brand you choose uses a high-quality protein source from a named meat. Avoid foods that contain corn, soy or wheat which can aggravate allergies.

Alternatives to Diet Dog Food

Add some low-calorie, high-value vegetables to your dog's diet. Carrots, peas, squash, sweet potatoes and green beans can add needed bulk to your dog's rations and add a flavor zip, too. Despite dogs' reputations as carnivores, many enjoy a wide variety of vegetables. Try melon, apples and bananas, too.

Snacks and Treats

There are reduced calorie snacks available for overweight dogs, but even low-cal treats should be used sparingly. Try breaking them in half for even more savings. To most dogs, a treat is a treat, no matter how small it is.

Try a carrot chunk (be sure to cut them small enough to swallow or large enough to require chewing) instead of a biscuit. Carrots add almost no calories and are packed with vitamin C.

Exercise Is Required

There's no getting around it. You've got to get your dog moving. Start slowly, building up to at least two extended walks per day.

An overweight dog is more likely to suffer joint pain and cardiovascular problems. Swimming should make for more comfortable exercise. Reduce your dog's weight to keep her active and healthy throughout her life.