5 Tips for Managing Your Senior Dog’s Weight
These tips will help you manage your senior dog’s weight
Managing your senior dog’s weight. Your dog is getting up there in age, but you don’t want the same to be true about her weight.
Keeping your senior dog healthy and pain free is extremely dependent on keeping your senior dog’s weight down. Here are six tips on helping your dog manage her weight.
1. Talk to Your Vet
The first step in managing your senior dog’s weight is to make sure what her ideal weight is. While you don’t want your dog to be overweight, you don’t want her to be underweight either. Find out from your vet what they determine is the best weight for your dog. That way you won’t have to guess.
2. It is Easier to be Overweight than Underweight
In today’s America it is more likely that your senior dog is overweight than underweight. There are a medley of health issues associated with excess weight for senior dogs, some of which are, diabetes, cardiac issues, joint pain, arthritis, and respiratory ailments. Extra weight compounds these issues and makes them much more dangerous for your dog. Take arthritis for instance. Arthritis is caused when the cartilage between your dog’s bones starts to degrade and break down. This causes pain when your dog tries to use her joints. Now, if your dog is overweight, her joints are bearing more weight than they would if she was a healthy weight, so there is more pressure on her joints. With more pressure on her arthritic joints, she experiences more pain. While you cannot cure such problems as arthritis, you can lessen the pain they cause for your dog, and one way to do that is reduce her weight.
3. Get your Dog Good Food
One of the first steps in reducing your dog’s weight is to get her food that is ideal for her metabolism. While expensive foods aren’t always better, usually when it comes to dog food, you get what you pay for. You want to get senior dogs food with high quality protein. When dogs age their ability to metabolize low quality foods lessens. That means the lower quality food they eat, the more likely they are to gain weight. If you get your dog high quality food, that food will do more for her body, including help her stay a healthy weight. While it is easy to think that the best food for an overweight dog is diet food, this is not always the case. In some cases the best course of action for your overweight dog may be to feed her less high quality food as opposed to a typical portion of diet food.
4. Only Feed Your Dog Dog Food
One way to cause your dog to gain weight is to feed her table scraps. Dogs do not need, and cannot metabolize fat the same way we can. What may seem like a small amount of cheese for a 200lb person is a HUGE amount of cheese for a 30lb dog. Not only that, but people are able to eat higher amounts of fat than dog’s can. When dogs eat too much fat they are prone to contracting pancreatitis, which in extreme cases can be deadly to dogs. In fact, the holidays are when emergency vets see the highest number of cases in pancreatitis because dogs are feed turkey, pan drippings, cheese, buttered potatoes, etc. You can reward your dog without giving her table scraps. If you want to give your dog food rewards, get her healthy dog treats. Keep in mind that giving your dog a treat is less about what that treat is (pan drippings vs. a small dog treat) and more about the fact that you are lavishing attention on your dog.
5. Exercise Your Dog
As dogs age they cannot run and play as much as they did when they were young. This is okay, but it is not okay to mistake their long periods of rest as a desire to sleep instead of take a walk. Taking your dog on regular walks, even if they are short walks will do many things for your senior dog. First, getting your dog outside will make her happy, and a happy dog is a healthier dog. Then, getting your dog walking will help her stay a healthy weight. Finally, there is evidence that exercising arthritic joints helps slow the progression of the disease.