If you have a dog, you already know they’re a part of the family. Most pet owners would do just about anything for their four-legged friend. You’ve probably made your home more pet-friendly, you work your schedule around their care, and you take them for regular check-ups at a trusted veterinarian.
But, when a dog is a part of the family, it can also lead to them becoming a bit spoiled. Let’s admit it, you’ve probably called your pooch your “baby” on more than one occasion. That often means feeding them a little extra, or maybe even some table scraps.
Too much unhealthy food combined with low activity levels can be unhealthy for any dog, no matter how happy they seem to be getting extra treats. Over 50% of dogs in the U.S. are considered to be overweight. That can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart conditions, diabetes, and joint damage.
So, what can you do to keep your dog healthy and happy while still showing them how much you care?
1. Buy the Right Dog Food
Even if you only feed your dog their designated food, it may be the wrong formula for them. Some dog foods (especially cheaper brands) are made up of a lot of fillers instead of the nutrient-dense ingredients your pooch really needs.
These fillers often contain a lot of empty calories. So, even if you’re feeding your dog the “right” amount of food, those calories add up quickly. If your dog is mostly sedentary during the day, that can lead to weight gain.
Buying healthy dog food can sometimes be a bit more expensive. But, it’s often worth it if you’re trying to get your dog to shed a few pounds. Healthier brands usually have other benefits, too, as they provide more essential nutrients. You might start to see a difference in your dog’s energy levels, and even how glossy their coat looks.
2. Swap Treats for Veggies
If you want to give your dog “people food,” there’s really nothing wrong with that – as long as you’re giving them the right things.
One clever way to allow them to have what you’re eating without worrying about whether it will be bad for them is to offer up veggies as treats. Most commercial-brand dog treats are loaded with fat and calories. So, when you want to reward your dog for going outside or doing a trick, try a nutritious fruit or vegetable! Dogs love baby carrots, green beans, or pieces of apples or bananas. They’ll think they’re getting something special, but it’ll actually be better for them than most traditional packaged treats.
3. Let Them Be Your Exercise Buddy
Just 20-30 minutes of walking each day can keep your dog from packing on the pounds. Dogs are pack animals and they are meant to walk, run, and play – not lay around all day. So, make it a point to take your dog on a walk every day, or go to your favorite park and throw a ball for them to fetch.
Not only will daily activity help your dog to lose weight, but it can improve joint and muscle health, boost their energy, and can even help them to live longer.
It’s okay to spoil your dog now and then, but make sure you do so in ways that are beneficial for them. When you do, you can take comfort in knowing you’ll have your furry friend in your life for a very long time.