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Tips to Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

Tips to Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the keys to the overall well-being and happiness of our furry companions. In this blog, we will shed light on why keeping a healthy weight matters, how to recognize if your dog is overweight, and how to help your canine friend stay fit. 

The Consequences of Canine Obesity

When a dog carries excess weight, it can lead to a range of health problems. These may include joint issues, diabetes, heart disease, decreased life expectancy, and a reduced quality of life. Obesity in dogs can also affect their energy levels, making them less active and playful.


Recognizing Canine Obesity

It's important to recognize the signs of canine obesity early to take corrective action. In general, you can identify if your dog is overweight by looking for these physical signs:

- Ribs can be felt, but with a covering of fat, or cannot be felt without pressing
- Reduction or absence of the visible waist when viewed from above
- Reduction or loss of an abdominal tuck when viewed from the side
- Fat deposits around the neck, back, and/or hips

An excellent tool for evaluating you dog's body condition is the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Body Condition Scoring Chart. This gives images and corresponding descriptions of underweight, ideal weight, and overweight dogs. 

Keeping Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog is all about balance. Here's what you can do:

- Consult your veterinarian and get a recommendation of a balanced, portion-controlled diet based on your dog's age, size, type and activity level. 
- Regular exercise is crucial. Take your dog for walks, play games, and engage in interactive activities.
- Avoid feeding excess table scraps and high-calorie treats. There's a "10% rule of thumb" that recommends no more than 10% of a dog's daily calories come from treats or snacks.
- Offering low-calorie fruits and vegetables as healthy snacks.

Treating and Snacking the Healthy Way

When it comes to your dog's diet, integrating fruits vegetables can be a prudent and health-conscious choice that goes a long way in helping them maintain an ideal weight and overall well-being. Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of moisture, diluting the calories. These dog-friendly fruits and vegetables also offer a diverse range of benefits:

Carrots: These vibrant orange veggies are not just visually appealing; they are also a nutritional powerhouse for your dog. Carrots are an excellent choice for snacking because they are low in calories, making them a healthy treat option. What makes them even more valuable is their high fiber content, which aids in supporting the gut microbiome, forming healthy stool and contributing to a feeling of fullness. Plus, they are packed full of antioxidant beta-carotene.

Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable is like a nutritional treasure chest for your canine companion. Broccoli is packed with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium. These nutrients play a key role in supporting your dog's immune system, bone health, and overall vitality. Consider offering a bit of lightly steamed broccoli as treats or snacks as a delightful health boost.

Green Beans: Green beans are a fantastic addition to your dog's diet, particularly if you're looking to manage their weight. These legumes are a very low-calorie option that can help your dog feel full without piling on extra pounds. Additionally, green beans offer a healthy dose of dietary fiber, which aids in maintaining regular digestion. Whether served as a standalone snack or mixed into their meals, green beans can help support your dog's weight management goals.

Sweet Potatoes: These orange-fleshed gems are packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a great addition to your dog's meals. Rich in beta-carotene and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes support your dog's immune system, digestive health, and overall vitality. They can easily be prepared by slicing and baking or dehydrating into chews for a nutritious and tasty treat.

Beets: These deep red root vegetables are a nutritional powerhouse for your dog's overall health. Beets are high in essential nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, dietary fiber and antioxidant pigments. They promote good digestion, support a strong immune system, and help maintain optimal weight. When incorporating beets into your dog's diet, it's best to slice and then bake or dehydrate into little disks for fun little chews.
Berries: Berries are some of nature's most antioxidant packed foods, offering a plethora of health benefits. The darker the berry, the more antioxidant pigments they contain. They are also small and low in calories, making them excellent little treats and snacks. Berries can be offered fresh, frozen, or gently dehydrated.

Frye CW, Shmalberg JW, Wakshlag JJ (2016) Obesity, exercise and orthopedic diseaseVeterinary Clinical of North America: Small Animal Practice 46(5); 831-841.
Halvorsen, Holte, Myhrstad, et al. (2002) A systematic screening of total antioxidants in dietary plants. Journal of Nutrition 132: 461-471.
Kipperman BS, German AJ (2018) The responsibility of veterinarians to address companion animal obesityAnimals 8(143); doi:10.3390/ani8090143.
WSAVA (2020) Body Condition Score. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee.