Low Calorie Dog Food

One of the growing concerns for pet owners is obesity in dogs. Switching to a low calorie dog food is one way to help your dog lose weight. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet can lead to improved overall health, by potentially avoiding side effects of obesity. Obesity in dogs can cause diabetes, arthritis, respiratory problems, heart disease and an overall shorter lifespan. There are many options for low calorie dog food on the market, and there are several things to keep in mind when making the right selection for your dog.

Know the Labels

One of the best ways to be sure you're selecting the proper food is to check the labels. There is some important information there. The terms 'low calorie,' 'low fat' or 'reduced calorie' are used interchangeably. These words don't always mean what they should, so it's best not to make any assumptions. Compare labels and you'll find that low calorie dog food has no more than 310 calories per 3.5 ounces of dry food, and no more than 90 calories per 3.5 ounces of wet, canned food. The terms 'low fat' and 'reduced fat' are related to fat content and not calories, but may be another consideration for you when selecting the proper diet.

Learn about Ingredients

Many of the ingredients in low quality dog food are inadvertently, or sometimes blatantly, disguised. Educating yourself about what's on the label will help you to be better prepared when selecting one. Corn gluten, corn meal and brewer's rice are carbohydrates. For dogs with a weight problem, you'll want to limit carbohydrates, increase protein and remember to avoid protein derived from grains, as it is incomplete and can be less healthy for pet consumption. Look for higher quality low calorie dog foods made from meat, poultry and fish products, rather than 'meat and bone meals.'

Severe Obesity and Prescription Dog Foods

For severely overweight dogs, a special dog food diet may be prescribed. Prescription low calorie dog foods are available through pet food stores and online. Prescription foods are specially formulated to include low calories, low fat, high fiber and added antioxidants. Some prescription foods also include L-carnitine, a supplement which enhances lean muscle mass while burning fat. 

Organic, Holistic and Homemade Dog Foods

When searching for a low calorie dog food, you might come across organic or holistic dog foods, and recipes for homemade dog food. While these may or may not be advertised as low calorie, returning your pet to the basics of meat and all-natural, human grade food products, you may see increased results in weight loss.

Other Considerations

Adding a low calorie dog food to your dog's diet won't be the answer by itself. In order for the food to be effective, you must also change habits such as limiting the amount of treats your dog receives, feeding limited portions 1 or 2 times per day, and increasing exercise.