Have you ever heard the simple weight loss saying, “calories in…calories out”? As humans, we fully understand the importance of eating the same or less calories than we burn. If we fail to do this, we will gain weight. As a pet owner, do you know that the same is true for our pets? If they consume more calories than they burn, they will gain weight. How many of us realize that our dogs are overweight, though? Nearly 50% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight, however, only 17% of owners believe their own dog needs to shed a few pounds.
Just how important is the act of counting calories in helping our pets lose weight? Well, if your dog or cat is sedentary for a good percentage of the day, it is extremely important. And even if your dog or cat is moderately active, knowing how many calories he takes in will help you locate the root cause of his weight issue.
Monitoring Caloric Intake
Monitoring your pet’s caloric intake will help your pet lose weight — there’s no question about it. But how do you begin this process and make sure you’re monitoring effectively?
- Begin by visiting your veterinarian to identify your dog’s ideal weight. For example, your dog might weigh 53 pounds, but her ideal weight is 40 pounds. 13 pounds overweight for a mid-size dog is a lot. Understanding that exact number, though, helps with caloric intake.
- Analyze the amount of calories in each serving of dog food. This is something you can do online, or with the help of your veterinarian. Figure out exactly how many calories you are giving your dog through regular food. Monitor these calories carefully; be sure to measure the food carefully.
- Identify the daily caloric intake of treats. This is a big one — we often give our dogs lots of treats throughout the day without even realizing it. Replace treats with attention or calorie-free toys, if necessary. Depending upon the brand and type, treats often have lots of calories.
- Figure out, along with your vet, how many calories should constitute a “weight-loss diet” for your dog or cat. During the period of losing weight, calories are restricted.
- Follow through on this diet plan. This means NOT feeding your dog or cat human food from the table, increasing activity when possible, measuring out your pet’s food, and restricting the number of treats you give your pet during the day.
As you begin to see results, know and understand that you are positively impacting your pet’s health and longevity. You are contributing to disease prevention, and you are increasing the number of healthy, great days you have with your pet! Great work!