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Help for Overweight Dogs

How to create a doggie diet for weight loss and good nutrition.
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Are You Making Your Dog Fat?

Another, non-genetic reason for an overweight dog is more obvious: YOU, the owner, may be overindulging your pet, most likely with treats or people food.

"Food is love, and people want to make their pets happy," Tams says. "Very often, it is not the dog’s official food that is causing the weight problem; it is all the additional treats or snacks between meals," Murray says.

Portion Control Is Key

Knowing the correct serving size of food for your overweight dog is imperative for success. Companies often place information on labels or include charts on their web sites. But because many variables, such as size, are factored into the equation, get advice from your veterinarian on how often and how much to feed your dog.

Putting Your Dog on a Diet

After you’ve verified that your furry friend needs to slim down, consider everything he eats on a daily basis. "Do an honest assessment, covering all treats and snacks, including those given by other family members, neighbors, dog sitters, and dog walkers," Murray says. "You may find all you need to do is cut these out."

You don’t need to nix treats altogether. "Be realistic -- if you or your family likes to give them, it's unlikely that a no-treat policy will succeed," Murray says. "Choose healthy alternatives, such as veggies or rice cakes, and decide at the beginning of each day exactly how many the dog is allowed; put this amount in a bowl, and when they're gone, they're gone."

Another tactic to try is reducing portions. Murray recommends immediately cutting daily food intake by 15% to 20% for a six- to eight-week period, then analyzing the results. Additionally, your veterinarian can calculate the exact amount of calories your pet needs per day to lose weight based on his current size, ideal body weight, energy level, and general health.

Don’t Give In to Begging

If your overweight dog whines and cries for more food, hold firm. "That causes a lot of owners to buckle," Tams says.

Murray says: "Your dog will certainly whine if he knows that will get him more treats and snacks." If you’re serving the correct portion, more food will only contribute to weight issues.

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