Your dog’s excess weight can be hard on his body, taxing his liver and his joints. He is also at risk for diabetes. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs when you press against his sides, it’s time for a slimming-down diet. Take him to your vet to rule out other possible causes for his weight gain, and to get a medically approved, safe dietary plan. Most dogs can safely lose 3 to 5 percent of their body weight each month until they hit their ideal weight.
Your dog has a weight problem because he eats more calories than he burns. You need to reduce his daily calories but still give him the calories he needs to stay healthy. The only safe way to do this is to have a veterinarian calculate how much he should weigh based on his size and his breed, take his current weight and come up with a weight loss goal. Ask your vet for a food recommendation, and then he can tell you the daily amount to give your dog for the appropriate caloric intake.
Fiber and Fat
Whatever food you feed your dog needs to have fermentable fiber, and a fat source that keeps his skin and coat healthy while he loses weight. If you try to reduce calories by disproportionately increasing the fiber, it could affect your dog’s ability to digest nutrients and cause dietary upsets. Any veterinary-approved, prepared diet food your vet recommends should have suitable fiber and fat.
Divide your dog’s meals into several small meals as opposed to one or two larger meals. Mix the new, diet food with his old food for at least a week so his taste buds and stomach get used to the new food. Start with one-fourth serving of the new food mixed with three-fourths of his old food. In two days give half of each food, and in another two days give the majority of the diet food with about a quarter of his old food. If he’s being fussy about the new food try adding broth, ketchup or fish oil until he gets used to it.
Snacks and Treats
Cut down on your usual dog treats. Give your dogs some vegetables -- try broccoli, green beans, celery, asparagus and carrots. If your dog begs between feedings, see if drinking fresh water will satisfy him until feeding time.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.