If your overweight dog has been on a dog weight-loss diet and the needle on the scale won’t budge, you might be feeling pretty frustrated and ready to give up. But don’t let your dog fall off the diet wagon just yet.
With a little detective work, and the help of your veterinarian, you can get to the bottom of your dog’s diet debacle. Here are four reasons why the weight might not be coming off.
1. Calorie Consumption: The Outs Aren’t Greater Than the Ins
Dog weight loss is usually a simple case of math. In order to stimulate the body to tap into fat stores for energy, the calories your dog consumes must be less than the calories he expends through exercise or normal physiological functions, such as digestion, powering his internal organs or making hormones.
What people often don’t understand is that if you overfeed your dog, even a little bit, those calories add up over time. If your overweight dog doesn’t spend the calories, then he won’t lose any weight.
In big dogs, this looks like feeding a heaping cup of food instead of a measured cup of food. In a little dog, even a couple extra kibbles each day add up to a lot in a little body.
Sometimes, when pet parents are told that their pup needs to lose weight, they decide to cut back a little as a quick solution diet for dogs. This might work for some dogs, but if your canine isn’t losing weight after cutting back, then it is time for stricter calorie counting and a dog weight loss plan.
Don’t worry—canine calorie counting for dogs is much easier than for humans because dogs typically eat just one thing: kibble. Note: If you feed your dog a varied diet, it might be easier for you to stick to dry dog food during the weight loss phase.
When creating a diet for dogs, your veterinarian can tell you exactly how much to feed your dog. From there, just follow their instructions. Don’t forget to add any dog treats into the overall daily calorie count!
Another important way to increase calorie expenditure is to increase your pet’s daily exercise. If you aren’t walking your overweight dog, then now is the time to start. Even a little calorie burn can make a big difference, so take a walk, play some fetch or go for a hike—just make sure to get your dog moving every day.
If your dog hasn’t been exercising, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian before you start to ensure that your dog is healthy and ready to play.
2. Extra Feeding by Family Members
One of the most common reasons dog weight-loss plans fail is because not all of the humans in the dog’s life are on the same page. If there are multiple people living in your home or taking care of your dog, then there are multiple hands feeding your dog. It gets even more complicated when there are children in the picture, because they might not understand that everything is best in moderation.
Feeding treats to a dog is an important part of the human-animal bond, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing! If you are serious about your overweight dog losing weight, then it’s time to gather all the humans and have a talk.
Point out that your pup’s burgeoning waistline is a big problem. Obesity can cause health problems like Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, it shortens a dog’s lifespan and it can exacerbate pain from arthritis, reducing the dog’s quality of life.
Show everybody exactly how much the dog can eat, and appoint one person to feed him every day. Set aside the treats for the day, and tell the family that when the treats are gone for the day, no more treats can be dolled out until the next day. Make sure everybody is on board, and then see if the pounds melt away.
3. Stealing from Another Pet’s Bowl
Another common problem is an overweight dog stealing food from the other pets in a multi-pet household. The best way to prevent this problem is to “meal feed” the animals once or twice a day.
Start by feeding the dieting dog separately, and pick up the bowls when the pets are finished eating. If you have cats, put their food bowls up high where the dogs cannot reach them. Alternatively, you can place the cat bowls in another part of the house where the dogs do not have access.
If you’ve followed all the recommendations above, and your dog still isn’t losing weight, it’s time to get your pup checked out by your vet. Some hormonal conditions, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome, can make it near impossible for an overweight dog to lose weight. By running some simple blood tests and examining your dog, your veterinarian can test for and treat medical conditions that could be sabotaging your dog weight-loss efforts.
With these tips, some patience and a little detective work, you should be able to discover your dog weight-loss saboteur and get your pup back on the track to health and wellness in time for bikini season. Happy dieting!
By: Dr. Sarah Wooten
Featured Image: Via iStock.com/dekonne