Bulging Baxter? 5 Tips for Chubby Canines

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A dog with pet insurance eats a bowl of dog food.

It’s true, Americans are getting heavier and our pets are doing the same. To reverse this trend, the first thing that must happen is recognition of obesity.The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) released a nationwide survey in February 2012 showing that 53% of dogs overweight or obese. In addition to an increased number of obese pets, there is a disturbing decrease in people’s perception of their pets’ obesity. The study conducted by the APOP showed that 22% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners thought their pets were a normal weight, when really they were overweight.

Here are some tips transform your pooch from poochy, to healthy:

1. Hefty Hounds
Feed pre-measured meals. Pets that have access to as much food as they want and nibble through the day are going to be much harder to regulate. First determine exactly how many cups of kibble your pet is eating in 24 hours; use a baking measuring cup. Pet portion control is easy. Just measure out the amount you usually put in the bowl, them measure how much is left at the end of 24 hours. Next, reduce the amount of kibble you feed by about 20%. In single dog households this can work well, because you’ll put the pre-measured amount of kibble in the bowl, and when it’s gone, no refills!

In multiple dog households feeding discrete meals is going to make dieting easier. After determining the reduced amount for each pet, break this into 2 meals, and feed each dog separately. Allow 10 minutes for eating, then take the bowls away. You can put them down again for 10 minutes at lunch time, and again at dinner time. Chances are, in the beginning Scrappy may turn his nose up at the food, but he’ll learn quickly that you’re going to take it away if he doesn’t eat it. Most dogs will figure this out within a week or so and adjust to eating meals.

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2.Treat Bowls
Veterinarians understand that giving treats are an important part of bonding. Instead of cutting them out completely, follow the 20% rule. Determine how many treats were given before, then reduce by 20%. A treat bowl is very helpful for larger families with children. Put the daily allotted amount of treats in the bowl, when the treats are gone, no more for the day.

3. Healthier Hounds
Dogs aren’t the most discriminatory eaters, most will be happy with whatever you feed them. Many dogs will gain pleasure from being rewarded with a healthy dog treat, like an apple slice or baby carrot, versus a high calorie milk bone or jerky treat.

4. Portion Size
Remember that your pooch is likely a fraction of your size. A milk bone can be equivalent to a whole candy bar in an adult, or a cube of cheese equivalent to you eating the whole block! Consider the size of your pet’s “fist.” We often measure an ideal serving of protein in an adult to be roughly equivalent to the size of our fists, but compare that to Fifi’s and you’ll find it’s quite a bit smaller!

5. Get Your Exercise On
Portion and calorie control should be first and foremost in a weight loss plan for dogs, but don’t skimp on exercise. Get your dog moving, play fetch, go for walks, swimming, go to the park or do anything that will get their cardiovascular system pumping and strengthen their muscles. Just like with people, start slow if your pet is out of shape, and work up to your exercise goals.

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These helpful tips should get Sammy slender in no time. For more information about pet health and behavior, or to learn more about pet insurance, visit Pets Best Insurance.

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