It is natural for any loving pet parent to strive to provide our pets with the best possible care and to ensure that they receive a healthy and balanced diet. Although we do this out of love, the odd snack between meals and a bite from the table on the odd occasion can lead to weight gain, which presents an array of health problems; obesity being one of them.

Much as we need various vitamins and nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, our furry friends require a balanced diet, consisting of certain vitamins and nutrients, to maintain an optimum level of health. But, with so many pet parents being uncertain just how much food is the correct amount, it has become increasingly easy to overfeed our pets and this is the biggest mistake we could make.

Commercial pet food contains fillers, corn being the most popular, but not the corn meant for human consumption. This is the corn fed to cattle, which is meant to fatten them up. Thus, overfeeding on dry kibble is certain to cause weight gain in your pup. On the other hand an excess of certain vitamins can also cause a variety of ailments, such as Vitamin D which leads to hypercalcemia (the calcification of body tissues) and it also affects the gastrointestinal tract.

Dogs that suffer from obesity are not only prone to contracting inflammatory related ailments such as arthritis, but they can also suffer from diabetes. Obese animals also tend to have much less energy and they struggle to move around. Obesity can also cause back problems in many breeds. So what can we do as loving pet parents, to ensure that our beloved pet does not fall victim to obesity?

The best way to ensure that our beloved pet maintains a healthy body weight, is to monitor the food we give them, as well as their calorie intake; which should be the most suitable to their age, size, activity level and breed. The best practice would be to discuss this with your local Veterinarian. There are also additional steps which you could take on your own:

#1 Read the Labels

Food meant for pups, young, growing or lactating dogs contains more calories than food meant for non-litter bearing adult or elderly dogs. Dogs who have been spayed require a lower calorie intake than those who have not been spayed. Therefore, if you wish control your pooch’s calorie intake, you should opt for food that is nutritionally balanced and labelled as “maintenance” food for an adult dog.

#2 Consult with your Vet: Prescription Diet Foods

If your furry friend is overweight, speak to your local Veterinarian about prescription diet food, which you may purchase from your Veterinarian. After doing a body condition scoring, your Veterinarian will be able to guide you on the best food to give your pooch. These foods contain less calories, but sufficient nutrients, minerals and Vitamins, to keep your furry friend healthy whilst he or she sheds the excess weight.

With these foods, the size of the portions are generally determined by the desired weight and once the desired weight has been achieved, it may be followed by a “maintenance” period, in which case the portions are slightly bigger. When you decide to give your furry friend prescription diet food, it is important not to add any other foods to his or her diet.

#3 Limit Treats and Table Food

Although we also rely on certain treats and biscuits to help clean their teeth, the best thing to do, to allow your pooch to lose weight, is to limit his or her treats. A good way to achieve this, is by breaking a biscuit (or their favorite treat) into a few pieces and giving it to your pooch throughout the day, instead of all at once. With regards to table food, the best rule you may implement is not to give your furry friend any food from your table.

#4 Get Regular Exercise

Another excellent way to help your pooch lose weight, is by gradually increasing his or her activity level during the day. You can do this by taking more regular walks or by gradually increasing the distance. Another way you can achieve this, is by buying interactive toys or getting your kids to play with your pooch more often. Keep your furry friend’s weight in mind though and remember to do this gradually.

#5 Weigh Your Pet Often

In order for your furry friend to maintain an optimum level of health, it is important to monitor his or her weight. Because weight gain happens gradually, you should weigh your pooch often. This can be done by taking a quick trip to your local Veterinarian and they can also guide you on how to do body condition scoring. This way you will easily notice whether your furry friend is gaining or possibly losing weight.

Something we should also remember as loving pet parents, is that we cannot purely reduce our furry friend’s daily portions, in the hope that he or she will lose weight. This also poses its own set of problems and therefore, the best alternative to getting your pooch’s weight back to normal, would be to visit your local Veterinarian and to manage his or her weight with the correct food, over a period of time.

Obesity amongst dogs has become a common problem and because of the various health implications, it is one which should not be taken lightly. Therefore, if you wish to keep your furry friend healthy, happy and in tip top shape, it is important to monitor the food you give them, the portion size and also their level of daily activity.

Love, The PetsWell Team

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