If your dog is out of shape and needs to lose a bit of weight, the chances are you have put them on a strict well balanced diet. However, just like humans, dieting alone is often not enough to get them back into shape. Exercise combined with a good diet is fundamental to achieving healthy, safe weight loss – even for our four legged canine friends.
Everyone loves to pamper their pets and there's a definite feel good factor about offering your dog a treat – but is it a healthy one? The chances are too many unhealthy treats find their way into your adoring dogs mouth, and suddenly - they're overweight! When dogs put on the pounds, they are more at risk of contracting certain diseases and just like us, once the weight is there, it can be hard to shed.
The diseases and illnesses that overweight dogs can suffer from include the following:
It's been proven that an overweight dog may die younger too, with some people thinking they can lose anything up to two and half years off their normal life span. With all this in mind, it's easy to see why dog owners need to make sure their favourite pooch only eats a well balanced diet and gets plenty of exercise to boot.
Just as with humans, dogs need to burn off more calories than they consume in order to stay fit and healthy. If they over eat and don't get enough exercise, they will put on the pounds in no time at all. Setting up a well balanced, calorie controlled diet for an overweight dog takes a bit of planning, but for it to work well and achieve the desired results, you need to set up an exercise routine for them too. You need to adjust their calorie intake and increase their daily activity – something they should really enjoy and which might be good for your health and well being too!
Making diet changes and setting up great exercise routines, does not have to be hard. However, you need to be totally committed to the weight loss strategies you've set up for your dog and not cut any corners when it comes to walking your dog, taking them for a run or playing with them. Ideally the exercise routine you set up should be for at least 15 minutes a day to start off with. The time can be increased as your dog (and you) gets fitter, which means by the end of a two week period, exercise time should have increased to at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. Just as with humans, this regime needs to be kept up even when your dog is fit and in great condition again for them to stay that way!
Naturally, the sort of exercise and the type of exercise really does depend on the breed and the age of a dog. The other thing that should be factored in to the daily routine, is the amount of energy your dog actually has. If you are unsure how much exercise your pet needs, discuss this with your vet who will advise on dietary needs as well so your dog gets back to their optimal weight safely.
When it comes to proteins, it is importance to include them in your dog's diet even when they need to shed some weight. Dogs need protein to build up muscle tissue, grow hair and form new skin cells. It provides them with their energy and is vital to keeping a dog's immune system strong. However, not all proteins are the same with lean proteins being low in calories but rich in essential amino acids so they are a great choice for dogs on diets.
Proteins are made up of valuable amino acids but unlike other nutrients and fats, the body can't store protein which means it has to be included in a daily diet. The amount of protein a dog needs on a daily basis depends on the breed and their age. However, the best proteins to feed any dog and especially if they are overweight, are lean proteins which have a lower calorie content. The most common foods that boast lean protein include the following:
Chicken and especially the breast is a great choice of lean protein to feed to overweight dogs. Chicken contains lots of valuable vitamins and minerals together with all the amino acids needed for dogs to stay healthy when they are on a strict die. Boosting the immune system is really important and chicken does this very effectively. One thing to bear in mind is that chicken needs to be cooked because raw chicken may contain bacteria which includes Salmonella.
Minced beef is another great source of lean protein but you need to make sure the mince meat is nice and lean. It is very rich in all the essential amino acids as well as vitamins and minerals. Dogs will love minced beef in their diet but you have to remember to alternate your dog's meals or they might refuse to eat anything else!
White fish is full of valuable Omega-3 fatty acids which is very good for dogs. It is a tasty source of lean protein that's full of amino acids which helps your dog convert fats into the energy they need to burn off calories. White fish contains B-complex vitamins as well as calcium for bones and phosphorous. If your dog is on a diet, ideally you should include some white fish like haddock in it.
Just like humans, when a dog is overweight it can really affect their overall health and life span. Putting your dog on a diet alone will not be enough to achieve their optimum weight. However, if you combine a good exercise routine with a well thought out balanced diet which includes lean protein, your dog will soon get back into shape and the chances are they will adore the extra outdoor activities you take them on as much as you!