Here are some helpful hints to get and keep your dog at his/her ideal weight:
Keep your pet properly hydrated by having a fresh water supply available at all times. If you feed your dog only kibble, it acts as a sponge in your pet’s system holding the water in. Adding some water to your dog’s kibble can help keep your dog hydrated. Be sure to wash the water bowl frequently as simply refilling the bowl without cleaning it can lead to bacteria growth which could cause issues such as urinary tract or kidney infections. Raw and homemade diets contain more moisture than kibble, so this helps with proper hydration.
Make some low calorie treats. Here’s a quick and easy recipe. You can make these using several different types of vegetables, but I’m recommending using apples, beets, jicama, and turnips as they are dense and low in calories. Try this:
a. Clean and peel. Make ¼” slices and spread on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 3 hours turning once. Cool completely. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze and use as required.
b. If your dog is new to vegetables, here’s trick I use – soak or lightly simmer the sliced vegetables in some beef broth for about 15 minutes. This should give the vegetables a more familiar smell to your dog.
c. Be mindful on the size of the treat. If you have a smaller dog, you may need to divide the slices accordingly.
Feed 2-3 meals per day at consistent times. Don’t allow your dog to graze on food throughout the day. If the food is not eaten in 15 minutes, simply pull up the food and place it in the refrigerator for the next meal. Occasionally our senior collie gets very picky so we add something special to the meal for the second time. Consistent feeding leads to consistent eliminations which is an added bonus!
Take a closer look at the volume of food that you are currently feeding your pet. If you are feeding kibble, take a few moments to measure out the exact amount that the bag recommends. Remember this tip when trying to help your dog lose weight: feed your dog for the weight you want them to be, not their current weight. For example, if your dog weighs 50 pounds, but should weigh 35 pounds, you should feed your dog at the 35 pound amount. If your dog isn’t happy with the decrease in his/her kibble amount (who would be?), try adding some of the lower calorie treats to your dog’s diet. It will help keep them fuller, but with fewer calories. You can measure out the food for a week’s worth of meals and place in small reusable containers. This will eliminate the guesswork throughout the week and also help prevent overfeeding when there’s a rush to get everyone out for the day and during dinner time.
Play some games in the house to get both their brain and body moving. There are several organized activities that you can join with your dog or play some these simple games in your home:
a. Put some of your homemade treats in a cupcake tin. Cover the treats with a toy or a tennis ball. The object is to get the dog to use his nose to find the treat. As they get better at the game, put treats in only a few of the slots, but cover all of them with toys.
b. Practice your stay. Get 2 small rugs, towels, or small squares of cardboard. Have you dog stay on the first rug and then put the second rug just far enough in front of the first rug so that your dog doesn’t break its stay. Go back to your dog and give them a treat for staying. Give your release cue (OK, Free, etc.) and have him go to the next rug and stay. Repeat a few times. Gradually you will be able to increase the distance between rugs. Think how helpful this would be when you have company or if you want to show off to your friends!!