The Guide to Weight Loss Supplements for Dogs
In an October 2018 clinical study done by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), they discovered that nearly 50 million dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese. 36.9% of dogs were classified as overweight and 18.9% were classified as obese. If you are noticing your dog is looking more rounded or seems sluggish during basic activities such as walking or climbing the stairs, your dog may be overweight or obese.
Tips for Weighing your Dog
But how does one know if his or her dog is carrying excess weight?
There are two simple, at-home tests you can do to figure out if your dog is considered overweight:
1) Weigh them on a scale.
First, step on the scale by yourself and note how much you weigh. Then pick up your dog and step back onto the scale. Calculate the difference between your weight and the weight while holding your dog. The difference will be how much your dog weighs. You can use that number to check if they are below or over the breed average.
2) Calculate their Body Condition Score (BCS).
Use the BCS chart to determine where your dog is on the scale between 1-9. The ideal score is 5. Anything under 5 is considered under ideal or underweight, anything over 5 is considered over ideal or overweight.
Rechecking your dog’s weight on a consistent basis will help you and your family prevent pet obesity and ensure your dog is maintaining their target weight. If after these tests you’ve determined your dog to be underweight or overweight, then it’s time to put them on a weight gain or weight loss program.
How Should I Begin A Weight Loss Program for My Dog?
As with any dog weight loss program, it is important to speak with your dog’s vet to strategize the safest way to shed excess weight. Your vet will be able to map out a nutritional program and advise on any needed supplements. They will also provide you with your dog’s recommend daily exercise in order to reach their target weight.
Most dog weight loss programs will begin with a calorie restrictive diet. This just means you will need to reduce and measure out the amount of food you are feeding your pup on a daily basis. A great tip is to purchase a dedicated measuring cup for your dog’s food. Mark the number of cups or ounces on the cup with a sharpie, so you can visually verify you are feeding your dog the right amount. Just remember that amount will likely include any additional treats or supplements.
Usually calorie restriction will help your dog reach their ideal weight, however your vet may recommend weight-loss specific dog food. Diet dog food is different in that it will have:
- More protein
- Less fat
- Less calories
Some of the best dog foods for weight loss can be found at Dog Food Advisor.
Are dog weight loss supplements or pills safe?
Obese Dogs Diet Pills
There are a number of dog weight loss supplements and obese dogs diet pills on the market today, however a calorie restrictive diet is still the most effective and safest option. A weight loss supplement or pill may seem like an easier solution but there is still little research surrounding the long-term safety for dogs including Dirlotapide and Chitosan. For example, one of the most popular Dirlotapide supplements, Slentrol, was discontinued by the manufacturer after giving dogs a list of unpleasant side effects included vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, constipation and dehydration. A simple diet and exercise program are by far the best ways to help your dog reach their ideal weight.
On the other hand, more natural supplements such as a multivitamin can maintain your dog’s bone, skin and joint health. Many store-bought pet foods don’t provide the full array of immune-boosting vitamins. In some cases, your vet may recommend a daily multivitamin to strengthen your dog’s overall health. Typically, this would include vitamin A, B12, D3, E and omega-3.
Speaking of omega-3, studies have shown that coconut oil and fish oils rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have shown to promote weight loss. Not only can they help with a healthy immune system, they have wonderful inflammatory properties which will help with heart health and digestion.
Priobiotic chews are another great way to help balance the good and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut. Your pup’s gastrointestinal health can affect their immune system which rules their energy levels and digestive system. A daily probiotic can help keep their gut in optimal condition.
Solutions to Common Dog Weight-Loss Problems
In some cases, your dog’s weight loss journey may hit a plateau or even back track. Don’t worry, proper weight management is a long-term process and takes a lot of patience. Here are 7 common solutions to dog weight loss problems:
Check the feeding amount.
We’re human and can make mistakes. It could be as simple as marking the wrong portion size on a measuring cup to mishearing 1.5 cups vs 1 cup.
Look into a higher quality food option.
Many processed dog kibbles are filled with carb heavy fillers that leave dogs feeling less than satisfied. Look for fresh foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. We are big believers in feeding our dogs real food, not kibble. Not only does it keep our dogs satisfied but we’ve noticed they don’t beg at the dinner table nearly as often.
Cut back on treats.
Remember earlier when we mentioned that treats are to be included in your dog’s daily feeding amount? Feeding your dog extra treats, especially calorie heavy ones, can sabotage your dog’s weight loss progress. It can be easy to give extra nibbles to those sweet eyes but remember it’s to keep them healthy and thriving longer.
Be sure everyone in your household is following the rules.
All it takes is one person to break the cycle. Even if you are following your dog’s diet plan to a T, having a loved one secretly feed your dog scraps under the table is only going to make your dog hungrier.
Provide plenty of water.
Making sure your dog is properly hydrated, especially during warmer months, is very important. Having plenty of water readily available to them will help your dog feel fuller longer.
Increase daily exercise.
If your dog is a larger breed, they probably need more than the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise. Talk to your vet about slowly introducing longer intervals or more vigorous forms of exercise such as jogging or hiking to your dog’s daily routine.
Rule out any medical conditions.
If after following a specific dog weight loss diet and providing adequate exercise, your dog is still not losing weight, it’s time to visit the vet to rule out any medical conditions. Older dogs especially can suffer from hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease which can cause weight gain.
How Can I Get My Dog to Lose More Weight Through Exercise?
Just like humans, dogs can also lose weight through exercise. As mentioned earlier, dogs need at minimum 30 minutes a day of physical exercise which can be accomplished through walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, and even playing fetch. Your vet can easily help you plan out a daily dog exercise program to help them reach their ideal weight. If your dog is already somewhat active or is a larger breed, the vet may recommend longer intervals or a more vigorous activity such as agility training or uphill running.
Dog weight-loss plans will start slow and begin to increase in length over time. In some cases, older or less active dogs may only start with 10 minutes a day and slowly increase to 15, 20, then 30 minutes a day. It’s important to be patient and know this is a lifestyle not a quick fix. Even the smallest daily changes can mean large improvements in your dog’s overall health.
Help your dog beyond just weight loss with the right pet coverage, even supplemental benefits that you might need. Keep your pup happy and healthy.