Obesity is the most common canine nutritional disease in this country, occurring in up to 25% of dogs. While the many problems associated with weight gain are frightening, it's reassuring to know that by keeping your dog at a reasonable weight, you can reduce his chances of diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems, and possibly even cancer.
To determine whether your dog is overweight, stand over him and check for a waist—a visible indentation behind his ribs. All dogs, regardless of breed should have a waist. Then give him a hands-on test. Can you feel his ribs? They shouldn't be sticking out, but you should be able to find them through a layer of skin and muscle, and be able to easily count them. If all you feel is rolls of fat, it's time to begin a diet and exercise plan.
Feed your dog properly
If you feed your dog a prepared pet food, the label on the package will provide a guideline as to how much to feed daily. These recommendations are a guideline only and you should make adjustments according to your dog's individual needs. Don't forget to take into account the calories in treats and other tidbits he eats—they shouldn't make up more than 10% of his daily calorie intake.
Get enough exercise
Try to exercise your dog as much as he is able. The more muscle he maintains, the more calories he'll burn and less fat he'll carry. Not only that, but when you fill his time with fun activities, he'll spend less time hanging around the food bowl. This increased activity won't just benefit your dog, it will benefit you.
Simple weight loss tips
Instruct family members and visitors not to give your dog any treats or table scraps.
Don't give your dog one heaping bowl of food that he can eat whenever he wants. Instead, give him two to four small measured meals a day so you can regulate his portions.
Start keeping a record of your dog's weight. If possible, weigh him once a week.
If you have more than one dog, feed them separately. That way, your overweight dog won't have access to that "second helping."
To keep him from begging for food, feed your dog before you have your own meals.
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure that all of your garbage cans have secure covers. (That applies to indoor garbage cans, too!)
Keep lots of clean, fresh water available.
Finally, be sure to take your dog to your veterinarian for a checkup and expert advice. Your vet may give you guidelines on exercise appropriate for your dog's age and health as well as specific advice on how much he should be eating. He can also check for, and treat, any weight-related problems.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.