It’s a fact: nearly 60% of dogs in the United States are either overweight or obese, and that is a huge problem. Obesity is one of the largest risk factors for diabetes that dogs can have, and it can make a difference in their joint conditions and life spans. Here are some easy ways to help your dog lose weight and be their healthiest.
What is the difference between an overweight dog and an obese dog?
Generally speaking, your vet will use body weight to determine whether your dog is overweight or obese. A dog is overweight when they’re 10-20% over their ideal body weight and they’re considered obese if they’re more than 20% of their ideal body weight. It may seem like a subtle difference, but it’s important when it comes to how to help them lose the pounds. An obese dog may need different interventions than an overweight dog does when it comes to lowering their weight.
Additionally, vets will use a body condition score to determine their healthy weight. That looks at your dog’s shape from above (cute as it is, those roly-poly dachshunds we love are actually unhealthy) and they’ll feel their rib cage too. Yes, believe it or not, we’re looking for hour-glass figures in our dogs too, and their health depends on it.
Why is it important for my dog to be a healthy weight?
The bottom line is that just like in humans…obesity is a health risk that may shorten your dog’s lifespan and make them more likely to develop diseases like diabetes. An overweight dog’s lifespan can be shortened by nearly two years if not managed, and that’s not all. Overweight and obese dogs can be uncomfortable during their time with us as fat tissue is biologically active. It secretes inflammatory hormones and it also creates stress on your dog’s body tissue. This can contribute to many metabolic diseases, but at a very basic level, can make them uncomfortable due to all the inflammation raging in their body. Overweight dogs are at risk for cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, urinary bladder stones, Cushing’s Disease and more.
What can I do to help my dog have a healthy weight?
1. Serve healthy Portions
Have you ever read the feeding instructions on your dog’s food bag? Or do you just wing it with the measuring cup and give what ‘looks’ about right? Read the labels and make sure you’re giving healthy portions, no matter what your dog’s puppy eyes tell you. Even if you and your dog (or just your dog, no judging) are active, you must be sure their caloric intake is appropriate for what they’re expending.
2. Consider breaking your dog’s meals into smaller portions
It takes more energy to digest and burn the calories from smaller meals offered more often, so if you give your dog his daily allowance in three to six portions through the day, they’re going to burn more calories than they would if you fed once/twice a day. (Not a bad trick for humans, either!)
3. Make sure treats are quality (and watch the quantity!)
The truth is, we’re going to have a hard time battling those puppy dog eyes, and dogs know it. So if you DO give treats, make sure they’re quality treats that aren’t full of carbs and calories. And do so sparingly. Did you know that MANY dogs will consider cucumbers or tomato bites as TREATS? It’s true…and you’ll never know if your doggo is one who will take that healthy alternative over a high-carb biscuit if you don’t try. Dogs also love blueberries, green beans, celery and broccoli (it’s true–give it a chance!) so imagine giving your dog’s happiness when it’s dinner time and green beans are on the plate! We know dogs love peanut butter, but…it’s higher in calories. That’s why pumpkin is a much better, healthier alternative if you’re looking for creamy delights in treat toys.
Yes, it sounds simple, because it IS. For a dog? All you need is about 20 minutes of brisk walking a day to improve their cardiovascular health and immune function. Commit to walks–for your health and your doggos–and watch how you both begin to look forward to maintaining healthy weight!
Supplements are smart
If you want to get your dog lose weight from the inside out, one of the best ways to do so is to make sure that they’re getting the most from their food. That means that they’re absorbing all the nutrition they should be and getting rid of all the waste that can cause inflammation and excess weight. Omega-3s offer your dog powerful antioxidant help that can prevent and even treat various diseases but better? They can help ease your dog’s achy and stiff joints so they’re more motivated to get out and exercise more.
Carnitine is an amino acid that is more like a B-vitamin than it is a protein synthesizer like most amino acids. It is primarily used to help facilitate the transport of long-chain fatty acids into your dog’s cellular mitochondria. This helps them be more energetic and can provide energy to fuel your dog’s muscles as it oxidizes (burns) fat. Natural Carnitine is generally found in the meat–and most dog foods contain meat.
The problem is that if your dog isn’t able to break their food down well, or to gain all the nutrients they’re supposed to from their food, they may not be getting the full effect of carnitine, and increasing their nutrient absorption could make all the difference.
That’s why supplementing with Bernie’s Perfect Poop can help your dog lose and maintain a healthy weight. The fiber in Bernie’s is sustainably sourced, non-GMO Miscanthus grass, and helps keep your dog feeling fuller for longer. The more full they feel, the less they’ll be prone to overeating.
Additionally, the flaxseed in Bernie’s supplements with Omega-3s, which can help your less-motivated, overweight dog feel more comfortable as they’re walking and exercising to burn calories.
And of course, the more nutrition your dog absorbs in his food, the less his body will crave and he’ll overeat. The enzymes, pre-, and probiotics in Bernie’s help ensure proper nutrition absorption and better dog gut health overall.
At the end of the day, your dog’s overall health is directly related to his gut health. So keeping him healthy from the inside can make the biggest difference in keeping his outside healthy too!