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5 tips on how to help your dog lose weight

Tuesday, May 08, 2018
By Dan Massey

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can be challenging. Resisting an adorable begging face is the first obstacle; actually understanding how to appropriately portion their meals and carefully monitor weight loss is the second.

For those canines with a little extra to love, here is what you can do to help your dog lose a few lbs.

Is your dog underweight?

If you can easily feel your dogs ribs and hip bones, your dog may be underweight. Look from above though for the easiest tell. Do the top of the hip bones and bottom of rib cage jut out visibly? (If your pup is extra fluffy, it’s easier to tell when they’re wet after a bath, or simply by feeling).

If your dog is underweight, you’ll want to increase their portions slightly (and slowly!). If your dog eats fresh food from NomNomNow, simply let us know and we’ll choose an appropriate target weight to put into our algorithm to healthily increase portions.

Is your dog the ideal weight?

The easiest way to tell if your dog is the ideal weight is by looking at the definitions of an overweight and underweight dog, and ruling out that your dog is neither. A dog at a healthy weight has a soft outline of their rib cage, and their belly tucks up between their ribs and hind legs.

Is your dog overweight?

As much as none of us want to admit that our dogs may have a little extra to love, more than half of dogs in the US are overweight– so statistically speaking, this category applies to the majority of our four-legged friends!

An overweight dog will be lacking the noticeable belly tuck that ideal and underweight dogs have. When looking at your dog from above, you may notice a bulge outward between the rib cage and hips (this should gently curve inward on a healthy dog). When feeling the ribs, you’ll notice thicker padding on them.

As much as we love feeding our pups, their being overweight puts them at a higher risk for life-threatening diseases, joint issues, lower energy levels (which means less play-time together!), and a lower quality of life. The best thing to do is to notice when our dogs fit in this overweight category and take steps to gradually reduce portion sizes (and stick to them, even when those begging puppy eyes tempt us otherwise!).

1. Determine the appropriate servings to gradually lose weight- and measure them carefully.

The first thing to do- and perhaps the most difficult- is determine how to appropriately cut down your dog’s portions at every meal. You’ll likely want to consult with your vet on what your dog’s ideal weight for their breed and age is, and begin reducing their caloric-intake daily to achieve this target weight. (NomNomNow customers: enter your online profile, and update the target weight section. Our team will automatically put your dog on a weight loss program, and gradually reduce calories each week. You don’t have to measure anything out, as we’ll package your meals for you.)

Once you determine the appropriate amount to feed- stick to it! You’ll want to come up with a consistent way to measure each meal, and make sure that you’re accurately measuring these determined portions.

2. Treats are okay - in moderation.

While counting calories and intake at your dog’s meals may be one thing, treats can quickly throw a weight loss program off balance– not too different from within our own diets! Treats should be factored into your dog’s daily intake, and measured in the same way. For healthy, low-impact treats that your dog will love, stick to all-natural meat jerky (NomNomNow Chicken Jerky can easily be added to your orders!), or use baby carrots, green beans, celery, cucumbers, sliced apples, or even ice cubes that you may already have in your kitchen.

Puzzle toys that make your dog work for the treat are also a great addition to any weight loss plan, as they make treats last longer and physically engage your dog with each reward.

3. Exercise is key.

None of these concepts are too different from how humans lose weight. Eating healthy and working out are two crucial aspects of shedding excess weight, and combining the two will lead to quicker results. For dogs that play well with others, taking your dog to a dog park can be a great way to blow off some energy, and work up a sweat at the same time. If you’re a runner and can bring your dog along, even better! Just make sure to gradually increase the workouts if your dog isn’t typically as active.

4. Rely on healthy supplements.

Getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals is key, especially when calories at meals will be reduced. For dog owners feeding store-bought food, this is something you’ll want to consult with your vet about. Will reducing their caloric intake in any way lead to a lack of some nutrient? If so, supplementing will come in handy. Plus, healthy supplements such as fish oil can actually aid in weight loss, and keep your dog healthy with the right kinds of calories and fats.

Getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients will also keep your dog satisfied, which will make the portion reduction easier. (NomNomNow customers: Our NomNomNutrient Mix is formulated for healthy weight loss plans, and our vet will adapt your dog’s meals based on the information in your dog profile).

5. Keep track!

Last but not least…Keep track of your dog’s progress! Weigh them and monitor their energy and fitness level. If they’re looking great and moving easier, then you’re on the right track, but you’ll also want to pay attention to actual weight changes. Noting these over time is an essential way to measure if your dog’s weight loss plan is working. If you find that nothing is really changing, you’ll want to re-evaluate with your vet. Once your dog does reach their goal weight, make sure to be consistent with the established caloric intake for a dog of that weight and size, and keep up the good work!

Want to learn more about how to tell if your dog is at a healthy weight? Hear from our veterinary nutritionist Dr. Justin Shmalberg. 

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