5 ways your senior dog can shed that extra weight
As your dog gets older, the key to keeping them happy and healthy is by getting them to maintain a healthy weight. If your senior pet needs to shed a few kilos, here are the top 5 weight loss tips to help them live a longer, healthier, happier life!
Why weight loss is so important
Dogs who are carrying a few extra kilos tend to suffer the most from frequent health problems, while pets at an optimal weight are not only able to get around more easily, but also tend to live longer.
We know that putting your dog on a diet is something that no pet owner wants to do, but it’s essential for your furry friend’s health and well-being as it could help prevent a whole heap of healthcare issues such as pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease, ligaments damage, hip dysplasia and other forms of joint disease. For older dogs, being significantly overweight can even lead to a greater chance of developing several types of cancer.
That’s why it's essential that you keep an eye out for any excessive weight gain in your senior dog. While some pets naturally gain more weight as they age, severe weight gain or obesity could indicate metabolic disorders such as Cushing’s Disease or Hypothyroidism.
How to lose those fat rolls
We know that you want to see your dog fit, healthy and living their life to the fullest, but losing weight can be really difficult for an older dog. That’s exactly why we’ve compiled these 5 essential weight-loss tips for our senior furry friends:
1. Reduce portion size
This doesn’t mean that you have to dramatically reduce your dog's normal portions. Just start by gradually cutting your dog’s food back by about five percent for a week or two. If your dog still hasn’t lost weight, then cut the portion back by another 5 percent again. In this way, you can help your pet lose weight gradually without him experiencing a severe calorie deficit which could cause a bit of a shock to his system. Remember, any drastic or sudden changes could actually slow a dog's metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.
Keep in mind that your greatest tool as a pet owner in the fight against weight gain is a measuring cup. There’s no room for guesswork by simply looking at the amount in the bowl to estimate how much you're feeding your lovable pet. Measuring your dog's food exactly is the only way to accurately keep track of their portion size in relation to their weight loss.
On that note: steer clear of the “just keep the bowl full” feeding method as your pet is usually unable to self-regulate their portions if they've already gained a fair bit of weight.
2. Make your own dog food
Most pet parents make the same mistake - they forget to read the label on the back of the pet food packet. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that most of the food you’re feeding your pet is high in carbohydrates. Many diets contain 60% or more carbohydrates.
Instead, experts suggest that you should feed your fluffy best bud a diet that is high in protein and low in carbs. And if you like to get busy in the kitchen, you can even make a high-protein, moderate-fat, low-carbohydrate diet at home using lean meats, low-fat dairy, and green vegetables. There are dozens of balanced homemade dog food recipes out there for you to choose from.
Pro tip: avoid fatty meats such as lamb, pork, and high-fat beef which could cause weight gain and increased blood pressure.
3. Encourage exercise
Obesity can be a real problem for greying pets and can lead to more serious respiratory or joint problems developing. Most pet parents underestimate the powerful benefits of regular exercise. Exercise will not only help your dog lose weight, but it's also a great way to lower blood pressure and strengthen bones in older dogs.
For senior pets, it’s important to find a balance between keeping your dog active and over-straining them by putting too much stress on their joints and bones. The great thing about exercising your pet is there are so many ways to do it.
If your pet is overweight, start with gentle, low-intensity activities such as a walk every day or a gentle swim. If that goes well, you may even level-up to a game of fetch or a long hike. A little bit of exercise can really go a long way.
4. Cut back on the treats
If you notice that your adorable pet is still gaining weight even with the reduced portion size, the excess calories might be coming from those cheeky treats that you use to reward Buster for good behaviour.
There’s no need to eliminate treats altogether. Just start by feeding your dog smaller treats every time you reward them. Slice the usual treats into halves or quarters to create lots of small pieces. He won't even know the difference - they’ll be just as chewy and tasty as ever.
Another weight-loss hack: if you’re really committed to your pets weight loss journey, try making your own treats at home out of low-fat organ meats like heart or liver a.
5. Smart Supplements
People aren’t the only ones who can benefit from dietary supplements. Supplements for senior dogs like Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3s and 6s) are packed with antioxidants and can do wonders for your pet. A few basic supplements a day could really help your pet trim-down, and other supplements including Glucosamine with Chondroitin Sulfate, probiotics and prebiotics have also been proven to help treat and prevent numerous diseases.
These healthy dietary supplements may also ease painful joints. This will help your dog to be more active and you should see those extra kilos disappear. If the weight still doesn’t come off, a supplement called L-carnitine has also been shown to aid weight loss and promote lean muscle mass for older dogs.
Oneplan’s pawsome cover for senior dogs
Get the best affordable pet insurance for your favourite furry friend with Oneplan Pet Insurance. At Oneplan, we strive to provide the best cover for pets of all ages, which is why our Pet Accident Plan has no age limit.
We believe that the only thing you should have to focus on is the health and well-being of your canine companion. Leave the bills to us.
Here are just a few of the unique benefits you’ll receive when you sign up with Oneplan online:
- For as little as R60pm, you’ll get accident cover for up to R8 000.
- Our Excess Buster means all your standard excess fees are waived when you claim
- We’ll cover pre-existing and hereditary conditions after a waiting period of 12 months
- Skip the normal, drawn-out claims process and spend more time focusing on your pet by claiming in just minutes with the Oneplan app
- Get access to exclusive discounts for up to 20% off on the ePETstore.
- Our friendly pet agents that are available on our website chat, WhatsApp and Oneplan app to guide and support you through your pet insurance journey.
So, why not get on board with an insurer that really cares? Our unique pet healthcare services are tailor-made to provide the best quality animal health insurance for your furry family members. What are you waiting for? Sign up online today for our Pet Accident Plan on the Oneplan website.
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