The beginning of a new year is no different for pets. Weight loss is top of mind this time of year. So many people have come through our doors in just the past week, asking for suggestions of what food to feed their dog in order to help them lose some weight. But before I give you my Weight Loss 101 advice, I’m going to talk about people for a moment.
I’ve done many challenges over the past few years. Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox and The Whole 30 were my favorites. While weight loss is not my main focus, overall health and sugar craving control are huge for me. But I’m not doing anymore challenges – ever again. Why? My main reason for avoiding challenges is sustainability. I’ve decided that instead of being “perfect” for 21 or 30 days only to be free to fall of the wagon on day 22 or 31, I’m going to implement more sustainable practices that will last over the course of my lifetime. Remember, it’s the turtle that won the race.
What does this have to do with pets? Well, maybe nothing. Maybe I just wanted to get on my soapbox and talk human health for a moment. But I think it applies to how we achieve weight loss for our pets. We are the one’s who have total control over our pet’s diet and lifestyle. That’s a big responsibility. Unlike us, they don’t have the opportunity to “cheat” (unless you have a garbage raider) but they also don’t have the opportunity to go out for a walk or a run unless you take them. I know its winter. For the most part, we’re all a little less active. In every conversation I’ve had with people about their “fat” dogs, every single one has freely admitted to not giving their dog enough exercise. So, get outside! I know it’s cold, but I guarantee you will both feel better afterwards. Remember, it’s the small steps that add up to the big picture.
Now, onto the “how to” part of making changes to your dogs diet;
- Canned Pumpkin – More than 18 years ago, my first dog, Reed, needed surgery. CSU’s neurosurgeon told me that Reed needed to lose weight before she could undergo surgery and told me that pumpkin would do the trick. This was new to me but it worked and we’ve been recommending it ever since opening Struttin Pup. Simply reduce the amount of food you give to your dog and replace it with canned pumpkin (green beans work too, or combination). For example, if you feed 1 cup of dry food a day, cut back to ½ cup or ¾ cup of food and add ½ cup or ¼ cup of canned pumpkin to it. It’s not meant to be done for a long period of time, but it’s a great way to kick-start the weight loss.
- Feed Raw – Studies have shown that replacing your traditional dry dog food with raw food helps shed the pounds. Even if you don’t transition to 100% raw, you can get some great results. You will see changes in weight, skin and coat, digestion, etc. by just adding some raw food to your dog’s diet. One of the easiest foods to add to your dog’s dry food is Nature’s Variety Instinct Bites. You don’t even have to thaw it. Just scoop it straight from the freezer to the bowl – it thaws in minutes!
- Change Dry Food – If you are committed to the convenience of dry food (though we would urge you to at least add some raw food), some choices are better than others, always go for a food high in protein and low in carbohydrates. While a grain-free food is a must, not all grain-free foods are created equally. Make sure the meat outweighs the carbohydrate. Protein tends to build lean muscle while carbs tend to be stored as fat. Look for a minimum of 25% protein. Fat should be limited BUT it is what satisfies hunger best. If your dog’s diet is too low in fat, he may resort to food-stealing, poop-eating or just plain ol’ begging. This is where I’ll bring human nutrition in again, people need more fat in their diets too. While you (hopefully!) won’t resort to poop-eating, fat really can make the difference between being able to make it to the next meal vs. caving into the cravings and making a bad food choice. If you’re looking to feel full yourself, try a “Fat Bomb”. Click here for some great people recipes.
- Replace food rewards with play and affection – If you have kids, you know this to be true. It’s easy to say “great job” with food (think of that ice cream cone after a soccer game). But it’s more meaningful (and fewer calories) to say it with pat, a walk or a belly rub (for your dog – though your kids may like a walk or belly rub too!)
And remember the first step is just realizing there is a problem. In a recent study, veterinarians considered almost 50% off their patients to be overweight, while only 17% of the owners agreed. But leaner dogs live healthier and longer lives than those who are overweight. Just like people. While I don’t do resolutions anymore, I can still take stock of current situations and see where I want myself and my dog to be.
If you want assistence figuring out the best nutrition of your pet, stop by our store and we would be happy to help. All of our staff is highly educated and enjoys helping you, help your dog live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
We’re not veterinarians. Struttin Pup staff are well educated, and our writing is well-researched, but neither the advice of a Struttin Pup staff member nor reading Struttin Pup’s blogs can substitute for visiting a veterinarian. We offer natural solutions, but we believe that veterinary conditions should be diagnosed and treated by professionals. If you need suggestions for a veterinarian who would be a good fit for you, please ask us!