For dogs, extra weight creeps on unexpectedly. It only takes a few pounds, or for small dogs, a few ounces, to tip the scales.
Obesity becomes pretty common in dogs at around age 5-10, and it’s especially prevalent in females after they’ve been spayed.
But with an overwhelming 54% of American dogs being overweight or obese, we have to acknowledge the one thing most of them have in common: they eat a processed diet of kibble that’s way too high in carbohydrates.
Though it’s common, obesity is not a normal part of aging in canines. It exacerbates joint issues such as arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella. It also makes your dog more prone to serious health issues like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Most of the time, when someone realizes their dog is overweight, they decide to cut back on their dog’s food.
This can work if you have been pouring straight from bag to bowl, rather than measuring out the recommended serving size. But if your dog already eats the correct amount of food for their ideal weight, cutting back on complete diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Worst of all, you’ll find yourself hounded by a hungry dog, even after mealtimes.
But what if you switched your dog to a low calorie “weight loss” kibble?
Weight loss formulas vary greatly between brands. They typically have fewer calories than most dog foods. Some formulas reduce calories from protein, and contain more low calorie, high fiber ingredients like rice, corn, or wheat.
Your dog needs a diet high in quality protein and very low in carbs to not only lose weight, but to also build muscle. Ideally, exercise will be a major part of your dog’s weight loss plan, and they’ll need sustainable energy from fats and protein to fuel their new, healthy lifestyle.
A raw diet is ideal for helping your dog lose and maintain weight.
Raw meat contains about 75% of its weight in moisture, while kibble is just 6 to 10 percent water.
All of that moisture content makes raw food more filling so your dog does not have to eat as much to feel full.
While it’s true that, in order to lose weight, a dog needs to eat fewer calories than they burn each day, not all calories are equal.
Multiple studies have shown us that when dogs eat foods that are similar in caloric content, but different in protein and carbohydrate content, those who eat a high protein, low carb diet will lose more weight and body fat, and will also lose less lean body mass.
Your ultimate goal is not only to roll back the numbers on the scale, but also to help your dog develop lean body mass – yes, muscles!
Even dogs on a raw diet can gain weight or fail to lose weight if they’re not taking in appropriate serving sizes.
The general rule of thumb for raw feeding is to feed about 2-3 percent of your dog’s body weight. This should be your dog’s ideal body weight, though, not their current weight.
So if your Scottish Terrier weighs 30 pounds, and you’re hoping to get him down to 26 pounds, you’d feed about 2% of 26, which comes out to just over 8 ounces per day.
If your dog has a chronic illness, or they’re obese, suffer from arthritis, or other mobility issues, talk to your veterinarian before starting a weight loss plan. If your dog is sedentary, but otherwise pretty healthy, you can get started with some light cardio exercise.
During this first phase, your dog’s body will become more efficient at circulating oxygen rich blood to their muscles. Their heart rate will accelerate easily at first, but as your dog exercises more, it will not have to work as hard during moderate activity.
Start with just 3 long walks per week. The length and intensity will depend on your dog’s current physical condition. For most dogs, 1-2 miles per walk at a moderate walking pace is a good start.
After 4-6 weeks of moderate paced walks, you can start to go on runs and jogs. Start with 10 minutes of walking, run for just a quarter to a half mile, and then cool down with another 10 minutes of walking.
It’s okay if your dog likes to stop frequently on walks to sniff. Sniffing is an important way for your dog to interact with their environment, and it will keep your dog motivated to get to the next block.
If your dog is responding well to cardio exercises, you can start to add in strength and muscle building workouts.
This may bring up mental images of big dogs pulling tires around a yard, but while weight pulling is one way to build muscle, there’s so many other ways to do it.
Going from walks on flat walkways to hikes with inclines is a good way to help your dog build muscle. You can also climb stairs with your dog if you can’t get out to the hills or mountains.
Tug-of-war is another great way to build up muscle on your dog’s whole body. And no, contrary to popular belief, playing tug does not lead to aggression. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your dog and get a workout in, even in small spaces like an apartment living room.
The best part about helping your dog lose weight on a raw diet is how you can still give them the same treats they love. As long as treats make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet, you can use plenty of them to reinforce good behavior and let your dog know that they’re the best.
If you’re looking for healthier treats that aren’t disappointing, look for treats with just a few ingredients. Dehydrated liver is one of the leanest, yet tastiest treats for dogs.
Your dog should lose no more than 1 to 2 percent of their body weight per week.
Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so you cannot always go by the scale when accessing your dog’s progress towards a healthier body condition.
Dogs tend to build up fat around the back of their neck, along their spine, over their ribs, and around their waist. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without pressing your fingertips through a layer of fat, though in most breeds, you shouldn’t be able to see them.
Every dog breed has a slightly different version of a healthy body condition. For Labradors, you may never see much of a “tuck” or waist that tucks in behind their ribs, though your dog may be stacked with lean muscle.
Talk to your veterinarian for help on ruling out a medical cause for weight gain, forming a weight loss plan, and deciding on your dog’s ideal weight.
Ready To Help Your Dog Lose Weight?
Take the first step by making your first order of Bone Appetit Raw Dog Food.