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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Your Dog's New Year's Resolution: A Dog Diet with Benefits?

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Fun Activity 
Leads to Healthy Weight

Is your dog looking a little pudgy these days? Perhaps he needs to lose a pound or two. Many American dogs do. After all, we love them so much that we tend to indulge them in treats from our table and snacks while we cook. Add that to their regular meals and their treats for training or good behavior--need I mention the ones that are just for fun?!! You get the idea.

This topic has come into play at my home this winter, as Tanner is taking a break from agility training, due to a small wound. To keep the stinker from scratching it, he must wear an E-collar. This sort of puts the kybosh (my mom used to use that word) on our fun. Anyway, my point is that as a result of Tanner's lessened exercise, he has put on a few pounds. No Jenny Craig for Tanner; we'll just have to use our other techniques to get exercise, and cut back on the chow a bit.

Just like us, dogs often get more calories than they burn, adding to their waistlines. You can check your dog's weight in an easy way by feeling his rib cage area. Can you feel the ribs? If so, he's probably not overweight. On the other hand, if it is difficult to find or feel her ribs, she may need a plan.

Here's where you come in. It's time to put on your Packleader hat, while I offer a few tips for playing workout trainer and dietician. Ready? Here we go:

  1. Start by reading his dog food bag. Is your chow AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved? It should be. This organization sets the standards for the balance of nutrients, proteins, fats, etc. in pet food. If you don't use packaged dog food, ask your veterinarian for advice on his dietary needs.
  2. Is it low calorie or low fat? If not, perhaps you might consider a switch while he's in weight-watchers mode. Remember to switch gradually over a period of several days to a week, allowing his digestive system to adapt to the change without upset. 
  3. Stop in your vet's office and weigh your dog to be sure you know what weight you are working with.
  4. What is the daily feeding suggestion for a dog of your fido's weight? You can find this information at Doctors Foster and Smith or AKC, among other resources. If your pup is a mix, ask your veterinarian for advice. This is key.
  5. Now that you have a new feeding program in place, let's talk about exercise. Does Fido get at least 30 minutes of walking, running or swimming EVERY day? Be honest with yourself. If not, it's time to get him into a routine of daily walks.
  6. If walking doesn't work for you, there are many other ways to get his exercise in. Check out my suggested articles at the bottom of the post for more ideas such as biking, backpacks to burn extra calories, treadmills, swimming, and hiking. Some dog owners also roller blade with their dogs. If you have a small dog, perhaps that could work for you. Consider your safety, the area you would be skating in, and level of skating ability before you try this.
  7. Finally, consider adding an extra workout several days a week to speed up the process and get you both into better shape. Ahhh! Believe it or not, this program will be good for both of you. That's a dog diet with benefits. LOL!
  8. Don't wait. Start today. Your motivation will wane the longer you wait, so get going!

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