It’s hard to over-state the importance of keeping our dogs trim. So many medical conditions are caused, or made substantially worse, by being over-weight so it’s important to tackle it as soon as you can no longer feel their ribs when you stroke them.
Ideally, you’ll feel the outline of their ribs with a thin layer of fat over them, they’ll have a ‘waist’ when viewed from above & a noticeable tuck up from their chest to their groin area.
Weight loss never comes easy - particularly if you have a dog that loves their chow! Food is also the way many of us show our love to our dogs, so the thought of curtailing this can be hard to accept. However, it doesn’t have to be permanent, and often our dogs really don’t care what or how much we treat them – they tend to only care about the frequency – so switching to smaller (with small dogs the treats should be tiny!), lower calorie treat alternatives can be easier than we think.
There seems to be two schools of thought on the best diet for a dog that needs to lose weight:
1) low fat (around 8% or less), low calorie, higher carb diets
2) or higher fat, low carb, high protein (33%+) diets.
In our experience the method that works best seems to vary from dog to dog, so if you’ve been struggling on one type of diet for a while with little progress then trying the alternative method might bring better results.
Either way, for successful weight loss it’s important that you measure the food carefully using the feeding guides – feed according to their ideal weight, not their current weight & then reduce this amount by about 10%. Adding cooked vegetables or water to their bowl can help a hungry dog feel fuller.
It can be helpful to know how many calories your dog needs – here’s a simple formula:
Resting energy requirement = 30 x your dog’s ideal body weight in kilograms plus 70.
So, a 5kg (ideal weight) dog would need 220 kcal per day for weight loss. A 20kg dog needs 670 calories.
To put this in perspective, a Bonio or a pig’s ear has over 75 calories, a small dental stick has at least 50 calories & a sneaky digestive biscuit has around 80. A baby carrot, by contrast, has 3 calories!.
In view of this it’s important to feed treats & chews that have a fat content of 5% or less and that categorically state that they contain no added sugar. Cooked or raw carrots are a popular choice, as are pieces of unsweetened rice cakes, cabbage or banana.
If you’re still getting nowhere then a l-carnitine supplement may help as may a good multi-strain probiotic & if all that fails, then it’s worth discussing things with your vet in case there’s something else at play.
The foods listed here tend to follow the more traditional approach of low fat/low calorie/higher carb diets except for the Mighty Meaty recipe which is a low-carb diet. Be sure to feed Mighty Meaty following the ‘Weight Control’ section on the feeding guide.