Best Dog Food for Helping Your Dog Lose Weight
Dogs, much like their people and people families, struggle with weight issues; the thing is, dogs do not go through a doggie grocery store, selecting the foods they are eating. We, their pet parents, are making the selections for them. Dogs do not put the portions in their bowls; we decide what’s available for them and when as pet parents. Dogs find their place at the dinner table with their nose in the air, delightfully hoping that someone will have a weakness for the sappy eye tactic or leave the food available for a snatching opportunity, especially easily distracted children’s meals.
Even though we do feed our dogs with the best intentions, there comes the point when we have to face the pudge that’s beginning to weigh on our dogs. Let’s have a closer look at what you need to know about your dog’s diet, your dog’s nutrition needs, a few surprising things you should know about your dog food labels, and how to make the best choices for dieting your dog.
Should Your Dog Go On a Diet?
Just putting your dog on a diet can be dangerous, so there are a couple of things you need to know before you begin. First, you should consult your vet. Do not just call them saying I want to put my dog on a diet. Make an appointment. Here are two diseases associated with weight gain, hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), which should be treated before putting your dog on a diet.
You also need to know your dog’s starting weight and what the ideal weight is for the breed and age of your dog. Your vet will help you determine this and also share important information about the health of your dog. Ask your vet about the food they are already receiving.
It never hurts to bring the empty bag with you because that bag says a lot more than you may realize it does. Making a weight loss plan with your vet provides information about your dog’s needs that packaging labels cannot give you. Once you start your dog on a diet, you do not want to assume the diet is working. Involving your vet in the plan can save you money in the long run. One of the things you are going to do to find out if your dog is losing weight in a healthy form is to have monthly weigh-ins. Most vets are happy to let you come in and use their scale; at this time, they may add the new weight to your dog’s records and will not charge you for this service.
If your dog has food allergies, this is the perfect moment to learn what healthy alternatives you can use to promote weight loss. Even though we are discussing what foods can help your dog lose weight, do not forget exercise is an essential part of your dog’s healthy lifestyle.
Read The Label Before Buying Dog Food
Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires eight pieces of information on your dog food packaging? The product name, net weight of the product, name and address of the manufacturer, a guaranteed analysis, the list of ingredients, the intended animal species the food is for, a statement of nutritional adequacy, and feeding guidelines. The ingredient list on a dog food label will not tell you where the ingredients came from or the quality of the ingredients. Some components are split up to make the distribution of what is in your dog food appear equal. Corn is an excellent example to understand what this means to you and your dog.
There are many groupings for corn; flaked corn, ground corn, kibbled corn, corn gluten, corn starch, corn middling, to name a few. As you look at a dog food label, kibbled corn is first, then your fourth ingredient is corn gluten, and ingredient number twelve says corn starch. The company has broken down a single ingredient into sections, making it appear less corn is in the food than stated. Dog food companies have stepped up, reducing the amount of deception. Some have even eliminated this breakdown tactic. We want to know what we are feeding our dogs, and dog food companies understand that. Now that you have this knowledge, when you see more than one ingredient of corn or any other product on the label, you can easily decipher that it is a lower quality dog food and may not be the best choice for their healthy diet.
Let’s look at the wording of the proteins such as; “Chicken, Turkey Dinner, Beef Entrée, Turkey Platter, With Chicken, and Turkey Flavor” on the label of your dog’s food says much more than you realize. Each one of these wordings represents a percentage of the entire product. When you see “Chicken” (the whole meat listed as a stand-alone), it means that seventy percent of the protein is chicken. The terms “Dinner, Entrée, or Platter” require the protein to make up ten percent. Then there is the term “With,” which only requires it to be at three percent, and finally, “Flavor” says it has less than three percent of the protein. With this knowledge, when your dog is dieting (because you want the higher proteins), you have a better selection by knowing what these words mean.
One more important piece of information on meat protein may surprise you but can improve the quality of food you are selecting for your dog. You will find “Whole Meats” or “Meat Meal” written on the package. Just going off the words “whole meat” sounds better than “meat meal.” Still, the fact here is “whole meat” actually contains water. In contrast, “meat meal” has no water weight to throw off the calculation of protein.
What Happens When I Change My Dog’s Diet
It is never a good idea to suddenly change your dog’s diet. Look at what you are already feeding your dog. If your dog is getting high-quality, healthy food, that may not be the issue. Changing your dog’s food rapidly could cause health issues such as diarrhea or vomiting. Changing their diet too quickly could also cause a lack of appetite, which could cause them to lose weight inappropriately. If you are changing their food, do it by adding a quarter of a cup of the new food to the old food, allow a couple of days, then up the amount of new food until the shift is complete.
Of course, you break the shift down into smaller portions for smaller dogs. Your dog needs balance in its diet. Proteins for adult dogs should make up eighteen to twenty percent of their meal, and for puppies should be twenty to twenty-five percent. Proteins supply amino acids to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Proteins also play a prominent role in your dog’s hormone production. Grains are the energy source for your dog. They supply omega-three fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium, which are also part of your dog’s heart health. Your dogs need fruits and vegetables for the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Following the feeding instructions provided on the bag of dog food can promote weight loss in your dog. It may surprise you, but many dogs are overweight because they are overfed.
The companies have provided the appropriate feeding information. Never make a sudden withdrawal of food; gradually reduce the total amount. We, as pet parents, may have made some choices that could be weighing our dogs down. Some of us have used dog feeders because they fit well into our busy lives. However, there are two types of feeders. The first is the more affordable and commonly used. A dispensing container that keeps food in the attached dog bowl all the time. The second slightly more costly one has a timing system and distributes close to the set amount of food at set times. Even though this is not perfect, if you need to use an automatic feeder, this is the better one of the two choices.
In some respects, putting your dog on a diet is similar to you on a diet. Like us, they become accustomed to eating on a schedule. Even though scheduled eating is essential, there may be an extra snack time you try to lessen or remove. You will often find your dog is not as hungry as they appear to be, so playing or taking a walk with them could be the perfect distraction. When you’re done, they find a comfortable place for their doggie nap. What if you hadn’t taken that walk or played a game? Are they still giving you those “please some food now” eyes or playing with their bowl, hoping something will land in it?
Always start with some water; just like a human diet, water can curb hunger. Some dogs may even need encouragement to take the offer of water. You can accomplish this by having a separate bowl, making them feel like they are receiving something different. How do you handle the hunger if water does not do it? You can put a few kibbles in their bowl out of their daily serving.
Dogs also enjoy raw vegetables like carrots. Fresh vegetables are a very beneficial snack because they are good for their teeth and eyes; for those “I really need something in my tummy” moments. You can also use raw vegetable treats like; carrots, green beans, zucchini, even tomatoes in small amounts (veggies your dog enjoys) instead of less healthy treats to promote your dog’s weight loss.
Best Food Brands for Dogs
There are an array of dry foods such as; Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight, Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight, Wellness Core Reduced Fat Dog Food, Natural Balance Fat Dogs, to name a few. The choice of which one you go with depends on the needs of your dog. Your consultation with your vet should have you going in the right direction when looking at the differences in the dry products. Portion control is the number one reason dogs gain weight. Your vet may have suggested not changing the food you are currently using but changing the portions. Wet dog food can also influence weight loss because they have more water and fewer carbohydrates.
There are some great dog-specific nutrition companies out there, such as; Just Food, Paw Tree, and Just Right, to name a few. You contact the companies and fill out a survey about your dog’s needs. They may come back with a few more questions. Together with their nutritionists, a plan is made for meal deliveries with the proper diet to suit your dog’s needs. As you can see, there are many options for helping you and your dog obtain the healthy lifestyle you are dreaming of.
Ultimately you are the one who makes the decisions when it comes to what foods will help your dog lose weight. Now you have some new knowledge on what your dog food package says and a few ideas to help curb hunger and make the weight loss journey easier. Always remember your vet is your biggest cheerleader when it comes to the healthy, happy lifestyle you want with your dog. Also, keep in mind that a healthy diet is a well-rounded set of events, the right foods, the right portions, and the right amount of exercise to meet your dog’s needs.
Contact your vet, make the plan, and have fun bonding with your dog as you strive to achieve a healthy lifestyle together!
For dogs in the Lake City, FL, area, reach out to Lake City Animal Hospital at (386) 755-0236 for any questions!