Did you know that approximately 54% of dogs in America are overweight or obese? Most people think that this is because their dog is uninterested in exercise. This causes them to resort to feeding table scraps and fast food simply because it’s convenient. Unfortunately, there are even more problems than weight associated with an overabundance of fat intake including heart issues, joint problems, and many other health-related conditions. Healthy living can be easy for both humans and dogs when done right from the start!
1) Make sure your dog has plenty of access to water at all times.
It is a good idea to keep your dog’s water bowl full at all times. Make sure that instead of a metal or plastic bowl they have one specifically made for dogs so they don’t drink too fast and become sick from the water going into their nose.
2) Increase protein intake, decrease fat/caloric intake.
This doesn’t mean feeding your dog raw meat every day! Dogs were traditionally fed “table scraps” by their owners. Many people claim that this is because they are healthier animals overall due to being scavengers –this isn’t true – they just have the capability to survive on basically any food given to them even if it kills them. They can eat spoiled food and live- grass clippings, trash, and even in some cases chemicals and paint.
What this does mean is feeding your dog high protein food sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. It also means decreasing caloric intake by not giving your dog snacks or table scraps when you eat. I know it can be hard to resist those adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of your dinner but trust me- you will eventually get used to it! Skip the fatty processed foods like hot dogs or cheese doodles too- dogs don’t need these highly processed “foods” in their diet at all.
3) Supplement with fiber
Many dogs are lacking important nutrients because they are eating mostly meat/protein-based diets that lack crucial dietary fibers that aid digestion. Supplementing with fiber will help keep your dog regular and make sure he has plenty of energy for playing! Also, fiber-rich foods are filling and will help you stick to the calorie goals you set for your dog.
4) Use smaller-sized plates or bowls for meals.
Plastic or metal dog food/water dish sets are available at any pet store- make sure the one you get is BPA-free! If you have multiple dogs don’t use a communal plate for everyone, this can spread germs very easily. Make sure their individual dishes are deep enough that they can’t lick it clean in one go but not so deep that they can actually swim in them! You want to be able to fill the bowl only halfway with food without having it spill over when your dog eats.
Just like you, dogs need exercise to stay healthy. They should be walked at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before bedtime). Be careful not to overexert your dog- if they are panting heavily or tired it means that you are exercising them too much. A good way to tell is by their body temperature- when they get hot even on cool days they need rest. If this happens frequently then adjust their diet accordingly (reduce fat intake, feed more meals spread out throughout the day instead of one big meal, etc.).
6) Make sure your dog has plenty of toys!
Toys are an important part of a dog’s mental and physical well-being! Toys will help keep your dog from chewing on your belongings or becoming bored. The best kind of toy is one that can be filled with peanut butter, cheese whiz, chicken broth, or liverwurst to give the dog a treat while they play.
7) Don’t feed your pet after midnight!
Wait at least 2 hours after you eat dinner before feeding your dog so their stomachs don’t become upset. If you must give them something try giving them carrots, rice, lettuce, or bananas- all healthy foods for dogs.
8) Get rid of the “people food” in your house!
Dogs don’t need to eat foods made for humans. They are perfectly happy with their own food and don’t need additional treats- you’ll just encourage begging! Human food is also the number one cause of intestinal obstructions in dogs.
By following these tips your pet can have a happy and healthy life! Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog- both of you will benefit from this bond that you form when you care for them properly. If there are still problems or concerns about your pet’s behavior see a veterinarian immediately.