It’s sometimes hard to recognize when your pet is overweight. You see them every day and may not notice the gradual change that takes place in their appearance until you’re standing at the veterinarian’s office, embarrassed. That’s what happened to me and my boxer, Trigger.
When your vet tells you your dog needs to lose around 20 lbs., you want to laugh it off at first. Oh, he’s fine, just a few too many treats, or I don’t want him to be too skinny! The truth is, the weight of your pet directly correlates to their health and ability to be themselves. If I was truthful with myself, I could see that Trigger couldn’t jump in the car as easily as he once could, or he gave up chasing the ball much more quickly than he used to. This was under my control, and I let him down unintentionally.
I had to make the change for him. I sprang into action, buying lower calorie food and phasing it in to his diet. I cut his food as the veterinarian recommended (though the puppy dog eyes killed me), and I would just give pieces of treats as a reward instead of the whole treat.
Some progress was made but not quite fast enough. Just like in human diets, I had to add exercise. Trigger has always been very active but has started to slow down in his older age. I took Trigger to the park to play already, but I had to amp it up. At the park, I was throwing the ball as much as possible and hitting up the dog park so he could romp around with other, more spry, dogs. I started keeping him outside during the day if the weather was nice so he would be forced to walk around instead of sleep on the couch. I even started taking him to doggie day camp occasionally so he would lose weight while having fun.
It paid off! Trigger is down 15 lbs and is closing in on his “goal weight”. I’ve seen a difference in his energy, and he is back to his old ways. It’s so tough to cut back on food for your dog and leave off some of their normal treats, but when you see your dog happy and healthy, it makes it all worth it.
My Tips for Doggie Weight-loss:
- Recognition is the first step- Realize your dog needs to change, and it’s your responsibility.
- Check out your dog’s food- You might be feeding them very high calorie foods unintentionally.
- Watch out for diet sabotage- My neighbor was secretly feeding Trigger through the fence! Though well-intentioned, I had to ask her to stop giving him an afternoon snack.
- Add exercise- Take a few more trips to the dog park or make your walks a little more brisk. Your dog needs to move, move, move.
- Celebrate the “wins”- Recognize when your pet is doing well or able to be more active. This will encourage you and keep you on the right path.