This post is written by guest author, Britt Kascjak, from Shed Happens.
Obesity is a growing problem among dogs today, threatening not only their health but also their quality of life. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, more than half of the dogs that are seen by their veterinarians in 2019 are considered to be either overweight or obese. The good news is that there are things that YOU can do to help your dog lose weight safely and effectively this season.
If your dog is currently packing a few extra pounds, don’t give up hope! While dog obesity does carry some serious health-related risks, there is still time to turn it all around.
In a 2012 study funded by Royal Canin, researchers discovered that successful weight loss CAN improve your dog’s overall health-related quality of life.
There is no time better than NOW to get started on your dog’s weight loss journey!
October is now firmly upon us, bringing with it the cool autumn breeze and the bright, bold colors of the changing leaves. It’s the time of year best known for the start of school, pumpkin spice everything, and, of course, Halloween. What you may not realize is that it is also a great time to focus on the ways that you can help your dog lose weight and live a healthier life.
Check Out These 5 Easy Ways You Can Help Your Dog Lose Weight this Autumn:
#1 – Create A Routine for Success
The autumn season is seen by many as the return to schedules and order once again. With children returning to school and summer vacations officially over, many families are once again establishing a set daily routine including work/school, mealtimes, bedtime and more. Including your dog in this routine can greatly improve their chances of weight loss success!
Much like with humans, the most important part of your dog’s weight loss journey will happen in the kitchen.
Take the time to find out exactly how much your dog should be eating each day and break that total down into 3-5 smaller meals. If you need assistance in finding out the right amount, you can start with the Pet Caloric Needs chart on the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention website. Better still, consider contacting your veterinarian for their professional advice.
If you know that your schedule will make it difficult to maintain a regular feeding schedule, a timed feeder will help you to stick with the daily routine even when you’re not home.
Don’t forget, any treats that are given to your dog need to be considered in that daily calorie total!
In addition to scheduling your dog’s mealtimes, set specific walk and exercise times each day. This doesn’t have to be a big commitment. A 15-minute walk, twice a day can have a significant impact on your pet’s overall health and well-being.
#2 – Head Out for An Autumn Hike
If you’re looking to get out and get moving, why not consider taking your dog for an autumn hike?
The temperatures have dropped off considerably, making it more comfortable for you and your dog to spend time exploring outdoors without fear of overheating. Plus, the beautiful fall colors create a great backdrop for a relaxing stroll with your pup. It’s a great opportunity to explore the different trails available right in your hometown!
If you and your dog are new to hiking, it’s a great bonding opportunity!
However, there are some important points that you will have to consider to keep everyone safe including purchasing a reliable harness and carrying water to keep you both hydrated. If you are looking for more tips and tricks for how to start hiking with your dog, check out the Pet Voices PRESENTS video ‘How to Start Hiking with Your Dog or Cat’.
Start small, especially if your dog is carrying a lot of extra weight. Search out a small beginner-friendly trail and keep your hiking time shorter at first. Pay attention to your dog for cues that you may be pushing him/her too hard and be prepared to end early if necessary. Over time, you can work up to longer and more challenging hikes, if you desire.
#3 – Turn Yard Work into A Fun Game
There is no arguing the fact that the autumn leaves are pretty to look at, but they can also create a lot of yard work. Why not take your dog out with you the next time that you are planning on raking leaves and make a game out of it?
A yard full of fallen leaves can create the perfect setting for an afternoon of outdoor fun.
While playing in your backyard shouldn’t be considered a substitute for your dog’s regular walks, it is a great way to burn a few extra calories. Plus, who doesn’t get a laugh out of a dog playing in the leaves? It’ll be a great mood booster for you!
It may take a little longer to finish your yard work, but it will be far more entertaining!
#4 – Bake Healthy, Low-Calorie Seasonal Treats
As I mentioned above, it is very important to be aware of your dog’s calorie intake and take steps to ensure that you aren’t feeding too much. This includes not only their meals, but also any treats on the side.
What I’m NOT saying is that you should never feed your dog a treat at all. Where is the fun in that? Instead, consider making (or buying) a low-calorie treat.
One of the most common flavors associated with autumn is pumpkin. But did you know that pumpkin has many great health benefits for your dog? It is also low in calories and low in fat!
If you enjoy baking, whip up some delicious (and nutritious) pumpkin treats for your dog. Your pup will thank you!
#5 – Make Your Dog’s Weight Loss A Family Goal
If you’re going to help your dog lose weight, then you need to have the whole family onboard! You aren’t going to see any progress if you’re working hard to limit your dog’s calorie intake while the children are feeding him/her from the table every night.
Discuss the situation with the family, explaining the steps that you are taking to improve your dog’s health. Small children may not fully understand it all, but by getting them involved, you can use this as a teaching opportunity.
The goal is to encourage everyone to come together and work as a team towards the end goal.
Consider making a list of the different tasks that need to be done and assigning them to different family members. For example, you may task a child with playing fetch in the back yard for 10 minutes each day to help them recognize the importance of exercise.
For younger children, include them in your activities. When you take your dog out for their daily walks, bring the kids along and explain why it’s so important for your dog to be active.
The more that the family is invested in your dog’s weight loss, the better.
Do you have any great tips to help your dog lose weight? If so, I would love to hear them! Share your ideas in the comments below!
About the Author: Britt is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.