Is your pup packing on the pounds? Younger dogs are usually fine with a few extra pounds on them, but once a dog becomes larger it can become very dangerous. Dogs can develop serious back issues, hip issues and other problems. Still, it can be difficult to get them to lose weight, especially if they aren't active dogs.
1. Make Them Work For It
Rather than feeding your dog scheduled meals, make your dog work for a portion of its food every day. You can put food and treats inside of dog puzzles that your pup needs to solve to eat. You can also ask your pup to perform tricks throughout the day for treats and kibble. This adds to your pet's mental stimulation, making for a happier and healthier puppy overall.
2. Avoid Free Feeding
It can be much easier to simply leave a bowl of kibble out, but there are some dogs who cannot stop eating once they begin. If your dog lacks self control, it's best to feed your dog a specific amount of food at a scheduled time and then no more. And remember to cut out the table scraps entirely. Especially in larger families, it can be very easy to lose track of exactly how much your pet has consumed throughout the day.
3. Give Your Dog Chews
Dogs are going to try to find something to eat—it's just their instinct. You can cut down on their "feeding" instinct by giving your dog chews that have limited caloric value but are still healthy for them. Rawhide chews, antler chews and fresh bones are all low in calories but still very attractive to a dog. This will have a side effect of making sure that their teeth are bright, healthy and clean.
4. Find Some Healthy Snacks
Just like people, some dogs have healthy snacks that they enjoy—such as crunchy carrots. Dogs are not obligate carnivores, so there are many vegetables and fruits that they can eat. Just make sure you run it past their vet, as there are other foods they absolutely cannot eat. As an example, onions and grapes are both toxic for dogs.
Always consult with your veterinarian regarding any dietary changes. Dogs can be fairly sensitive; an imbalance in their nutrition can cause significant damage. High protein diets, for instance, can actually cause problems with their kidneys. There are also some diseases and conditions that can lead to weight gain, which will need to be diagnosed through comprehensive testing at an animal hospital.