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Chubby bulldog

Putting a pudgy dog on a diet is a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Dogs who maintain a proper weight have higher quality of life and lower vet bills.

Whether the dieter is canine or human, the trick is to find the happy medium between maintaining a healthy weight and the daily pleasure of a satisfying meal. Here are a few tips to help your dog lose weight:

  • First, have a veterinary examination to eliminate medical causes of obesity.
  • Set a target weight of at least 85 percent of initial body weight.
  • Feed a low-calorie, high-protein food with increased levels of micronutrients. Note that calories per cup of even diet dog foods can vary greatly, so compare calories.
  • Determine how many calories are in a cup of your chosen food, and determine the amount to be fed accordingly.
  • Weigh the dog weekly and graph results. Report the results to a third party, which tends to keep owners honest.
  • Metabolizing food takes energy, and eating several small meals a day uses more energy than eating a single large meal.
  • Feed low-calorie snacks such as carrots, other vegetables, fruit, rice, or even ice cubes. Include treats in the daily allotted calories, and limit treats to less than 10 percent of daily caloric intake.
  • Make sure everyone in the family follows the diet rules.
  • Remove the dog from food-preparation areas, or from rooms where people are eating, both of which tend to increase the tendency to beg and to receive tidbits.

Exercise also plays a role in weight loss, but it must be tailored to the dog’s body state. For obese dogs, suitable low-impact exercise includes leash walking, swimming, and treadmills.
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