Managing Weight Loss in an Older Dog

Dog weight loss plans for an older dog can significantly improve his lifestyle and health. You should be able to feel the ribs of your dog, and see some kind of waist, if your dog is at a healthy weight.

Activity Levels of Older Dogs

As a dog ages, health issues like arthritis and joint problems in hips, knees, and elbows, spinal problems, and loss of muscle mass will limit activity and exercise ability. Older dogs are also more likely to go under medical treatment or require surgery.

At these times, senior dogs lose muscle mass and bone strength as their activity levels fall. Muscle mass and strong bones allow dogs to get up and be mobile, and it takes twice as long to rebuild those muscles after periods of inactivity.

Dog Food, Treats, and Portion Control

One way to manage weight loss in senior dogs is by limiting portions. Measure out the portions of food to feed to your dog, and figure out what amount allows your dog to lose weight. Owners can add grated vegetables like carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes to these smaller portions if desired.

With smaller portions, it is essential that each meal has balanced and nutritious food with plenty of protein, few carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. High quality ingredients, with a named meat as the first ingredient on the label, provide healthy proteins, vitamins, and nutrients. Nutritional supplements can also be helpful, especially in large breed dogs.

Take extra precaution if you decide to change foods. Older dogs are more likely to have intestinal issues, so new food should always be gradually mixed in with old dog food to prevent digestive problems.

Treats can still be given to older dogs with weight problems, but should be smaller than ones given to a young and active dog. Verbal praise and signs of affection are a great alternative to food treats. Table scraps should be avoided; instead, offer low-calorie healthy treats.

Exercise with Senior Dogs

Older dogs should maintain an active lifestyle to maintain muscle mass, joint health, and bone strength. Encourage exercise with walks, swims, or games of fetch, but don't push senior dogs. Stay at your dog's pace, and only go distances that your dog is comfortable with.

Dogs may be injured if they try to overexert themselves, so watch for breathing problems, joint pain, stiffness, and weakness after your dog exercises. On hot and humid days, keep older dogs inside or in the shade.