As spring nudges its way forward, some of our pets are left with an unpleasant souvenir of winter, an extra “layer.” Though that winter pudge might have kept them warm through the long, cold season, by spring, it’s time to shed the extra padding. Here are some tips to help work off that winter weight!
1: Calculate Calories and Measure Meals.
A pet parent’s single most excellent tool in the fight against excess weight is a measuring cup. Too many pet owners just fill the bowl or “guesstimate” how much they’re feeding. Most owners refer to the feeding guides on the back of the bag. These guides are set for adult, un-spayed or un-neutered active dogs and cats. That means if you have an older, spayed or neutered indoor lap potato you’re probably overfeeding. Instead, ask your veterinary team to calculate the proper number of calories your pet needs for a healthy weight loss plan.
Increasing exercise alone is not enough, although it is helpful. Start gradually, and be especially careful with elderly pets, particularly in hot weather. For dogs, as short as 20 to 30-minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce many behavioural problems. Do yourself and your dog a favour and commit to daily walks, rain or shine. The health benefits of walking extend to both ends of the leash.
3: Changing Treats.
As an alternative to highly-processed store-bought treats, try offering baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas or ice cubes. These naturally nutritious tasty treats are a healthy option for many dogs but remember to deduct the “treat” from the daily food allowance.
Remember, all dogs are different, so if yours is not losing weight on a diet, it may be that your dog burns calories slowly. Consult your vet for advice – but first, check that everybody in the house is sticking to the diet. It only takes one person who “feels sorry” for the dog and is cheating to ruin the whole menu!