Feeding Tips for an Overweight Dog

An overweight dog faces many health risks which can decrease his quality of life and lower his life expectancy. It is estimated that 40 percent of the dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. There are many ways you can help your dog reach a desirable weight and maintain the weight loss without feeling like you are depriving him.

Weight Assessment

If you are uncertain what the desirable weight for your dog is, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss her weight. One important indicator of a proper weight is to assess her body condition score. Dogs at a normal weight will have ribs which can be easily felt while running your hands over both sides of her chest. She will also have a waist tuck when looking at her from above. Looking from the side she will also have a discernible abdominal tuck. A fat dog will have excessive fat covering the ribs, over the back and at the base of the tail. Her waist and abdominal tuck will start to disappear as she gets heavier.

High-Quality Reduced Calorie Diet

An overweight dog should be placed on a high-quality brand of dog food. A high-quality reduced calorie food can also be fed. The pet should be feed portions suggested by the manufacturer for her desired weight. Use a measuring cup to accurately measure the food. Treats, including rawhide bones and table scraps, should be discontinued until your dog reaches his goal weight. Healthy snacks, given in moderation, can be given. These include carrots, canned green beans and limited amounts of cooked, skinless white meat chicken.

Regular Exercise

Daily exercise will help your dog shed pounds. It is also a great way to improve her metabolic rate, muscle strength and cardiovascular health. Depending on your dog's weight and health, physical rehabilitation should start with two short walks a day. Gradually increase time spent walking as your dog's stamina increases. Playing fetch is also a great way to help your dog shed excess pounds. Not only does your dog's physical health improve with exercise, but his mental health will benefit from the interaction with his owner and the release of pent-up energy

Medication Used in Some Cases

A medication is available to help your dog lose weight if diet and exercise do not work. Slentrol® is used under a veterinarian's direction following a strict dosing schedule and diet plan. The medication works by suppressing the dog's appetite and inhibiting the absorption of fat.