Dog obesity has become a serious and widespread health issue with as many as one in three dogs being overweight or obese according to a survey of US veterinarians. Extra weight can lead to other, more serious health issues.
Obesity can aggravate respiratory problems, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease," says Dr. Simon Starkey, PetSmart veterinary expert. "Just a pound or two may make a difference in a pet's health, so while exercising is vital to a pet's health, watching your pet's diet and weight are just as important."
How can the right food promote dog weight loss?
Start your dog on a complete weight reduction program that includes check-ups with the veterinarian, regular exercise, and a high-quality food with less calories and fat. Premium pet foods with restricted calories will have the proper amounts of protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to prevent nutrient deficiencies and keep your dog healthy while he is losing weight.
Foods with more calories typically contain more fat and will tend to keep more weight and fat on your dog.
"When dealing with an overweight pet, the first inclination is to simply cut the portion of his current food," says Dr. Starkey. "However, this seldom results in successful weight loss. Cutting portions can cause your pet to feel hungry more often which can lead to begging and cause the Pet Parent to feel guilty about feeding smaller portions."
Reducing portions will also lead to a reduction of essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike regular dog food, weight control foods have been balanced to provide adequate vitamins and minerals, while allowing for weight loss through calorie reduction.
What are the different types of weight control dog food?
Reduced calorie and reduced fat foods are recommended for dog weight loss while light and lean foods are usually recommended more for weight management or if your dog has a tendency to gain weight but is not yet overweight.
Foods that are labeled as light, lite, lean, low calorie, less, reduced calorie, low fat or reduced fat are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and are defined as follows
Light (also lite): Dry foods: 3,100 kcal per kg food. Wet: 900 kcal per kg food.
Lean: Dry foods: No more than 9% fat. Wet: No more than 4% fat.
"Less Calories" or "Reduced Calories": The label must include the percentage of reduction and the product of comparison along with other information.
"Less" or "Reduced Fat": Labels must include the percentage of reduction, product of comparison and maximum crude fat guarantee after the minimum crude fat guarantee in the mandatory guaranteed analysis information.
Other ways to address dog obesity
While feeding the right food and reducing treats is certainly an important part to weight loss success, portion control and exercise are key. Consult your veterinarian to help you develop a comprehensive weight loss plan that includes:
Determining the amount of weight your pet needs to lose
Setting an amount for daily caloric intake
Selecting specific amount of exercise
Scheduling follow-up appointments to monitor progress and adjust calories, exercise as needed to reach the ideal weight
Avoiding high-calorie treats
The information used in this report is approved by PetSmart nutritionists and vet experts.
Information from "Small Animal Clinical Nutrition," 5th Edition, Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush, Novotny, Copyright 2010 by Mark Morris Institute was used in this report.