Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker
Many of my clients have started services with my dog walking company after they have decided that their dog has gained too much weight and they don’t know what to do about it. The problem is that just like with people, exercise helps but it is not the complete cure. You have to cut back on your dog’s food intake too.
I tell my dog walking clients that the very first thing that they must do immediately is STOP GIVING THEM TREATS! Even food scraps at the table, can add inches very quickly to your dog’s waist. Your dog is probably 1/8th your size, so try to remember that before you offer something to eat.
An overweight pet is predisposed to many problems in their senior years such as back/ hip issues, torn ACL’s, arthritis and diabetes. Even if your dog already has any of these conditions, it can still be improved if you reduce your dog’s weight. So, if you want your dog to live a long, healthy life, it is imperative that you keep their weight in check at every stage of their life. Of course, it is your choice whether or not you keep your dog’s weight in check, but the fact is that your dog may need to be euthanized earlier than it’s life-expectancy because they can no longer walk or that their pain level has worsened and no longer can be controlled. It is just a simple fact that overweight dogs just do not live as long as fit dogs do.
So now the question is, what is the right weight? This is something that causes difficult conversations with dog owners because people tend to be super sensitive about their dog’s weight and often do not see them as being fat. Look at your dog from top and then at their sides and you should see a waistline. When viewing them, be honest. They should look slim and you should be able to feel their ribs easily. One tip is to google facts about your breed and see what the web says your dog should weigh. If you have a chow hound, you should try to stick to a program that will help your dog achieve the googled amount. Another tip that will help you is to always use a measuring cup or scale when preparing their meals. Make sure you are giving them the same amount of food everyday.
Cutting out human food may seem like a small change to you and that it doesn’t make sense that it would do anything to improve their waistline. How can this work? What’s a small piece of cheese going to do to my dog? Again, please try to remember that your dog is very small in comparison to yourself and that a small piece of cheese is probably equal to a whole pizza for us humans. If you give a small 10 pound dog a piece of cheese, try to think of it as giving yourself 15 times that amount.
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If your dog sleeps most of the day while you are at work, those calories are just sitting there not being burned off. After time, these calories start to add up quickly and you wind up with a fat dog, just because you were giving them a small piece of cheese on your way out the door.
You need to get real with yourself about how many calories in a day you are giving your dog. Once you have done that initial analysis, you can then begin the process of deciding how you will attack this problem. Starting out slowly is a good idea. Like us, when you decrease your dog’s food intake, they will probably feel hungry and beg for treats. You have to stay strong, but you also must have some compassion for them. Start by cutting out the treats and then in a week or two cut their food intake by 1/3. Stay at this measurement for a couple of week and evaluate if your dog is losing any weight. It is a slow process but remember, you have to stay the course. And one more thing, you need to remember is that your dog walker will be providing your dog treats when they are in the park. We have to give dogs treats to keep them motivated and moving in the right direction. It is hard to keep a pack of dogs moving in the same direction and treats really help with that task. So please, do not compound the problem by adding treats on top of the dog walker’s.
If you really love your dog, you will feed them a healthy diet and give them daily exercise. Consider using a dog walking service while you are at work. This will keep them living a very long life. We don’t want them to die before they are a ripe old age.