Dogs are lovable whether thin or pudgy, but even a few extra pounds can do damage to your pup's long-term health. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's 2016 survey, 53.9% of dogs were either classified as overweight or obese by their vet. That means roughly 42 million dogs are carrying excess weight, increasing their risk of health issues for joint injuries or cancer. But don't panic and think crash diet. You'll want to move your furry friend from chunky to hunky slowly. One of the wellness features in the LINK AKC app can get you started with a daily goal for activity, which comes as a custom recommendation for your dog. Next step - create a diet plan for your pup with these steps:
1. Define the weight goal.
If you've started to notice your dog is closer to chunky than hunky, head to your vet's office. Ernest Ward, DVM, writing for VCM Vet Clinics, notes the importance of not neglecting this first step in your dog's weight loss journey. Your vet can assess if an underlying medical condition is causing weight gain, and, assuming all is clear, the vet can then help you set an ideal weight for your pup.
2. Start slowly.
Introduce a change in diet slowly over the course of several days and under the supervision of your veterinarian. Substitute one-quarter of the food you normally feed them with either a reduced calorie food or what your vet recommends. Every few days increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the original.
3. Feed your dog correctly.
Your vet should determine the calories your dog should be eating every day for healthy weight loss. Your job is to dole out the proper amount of the right dog food. You might add a little chicken broth to it for taste appeal if they're used to a richer flavor than the new food. Replace dog biscuits with other crunchy, low-calorie bites like raw carrots or homemade healthy dog treats without processed ingredients.
4. Ramp up your walk time.
Increased exercise takes your dog toward fitness faster. Dump leisurely strolls in favor of high-pace walks. Playing fetch burns canine calories too! If you're unsure about how much is too much, don't forget the LINK AKC app provides daily activity levels just for your pup.
5. Track progress.
With the best doggie diet plus exercise, your pup is likely to start shedding pounds. But as with our own weight loss goals, you'll want to check her progress with regular weigh-ins to make sure you're on the right track.
Consistency when following a diet plan is critical to see results. So stick to the plan you create along with your veterinarian and watch the transformation take place. An added bonus; you might start to see some of the same results your pup does!