You’ve reduced the amount you feed your dog, switched her to kibble for obese dogs, and maybe even tried weight-loss pills or natural supplements. You feel like you’ve tried everything, but nothing has worked. Don’t give up just yet — you’re ignoring the best diet of all for overweight dogs: the raw diet.
As feeding dogs kibble has come more prevalent, the number of overweight dogs has increased. Now, more than half of dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Although correlation doesn’t equal causation, the likelihood in this case is that the two are related.
Kibble is often half (or more) grains. This provides your dog with more calories than she is able to use. As a result, her body turns these calories into fat.
To make matters worse, many dog owners fail to either acknowledge that their dogs are overweight or see it as a problem. They believe that a little extra fat cannot hurt and are reluctant to make changes to their dogs’ diet. Plus, they like to treat their dogs with food. However, a dog who is overweight this year could easily become obese in the next couple years.
If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs when you touch her sides, she is overweight — and it’s time to make a change.
Obesity in dogs is just as dangerous as obesity in humans. Overweight and obese dogs suffer from a large number of health conditions, including:
All of these conditions reduce the lifespan of your dog and decrease her quality of life.
Check out our Intro to Raw Nutrition for Dogs blog!
A raw diet is biologically appropriate for your dog. It provides your dog with the type of food her body is adapted for. It is free from chemical additives and a high amount of carbohydrates. Unlike “light” kibble, it is designed to help your dog achieve, and remain at, her ideal weight without cutting vital nutrients from her diet. In fact, dogs on a raw diet receive more proteins, vitamins, and minerals than those eating kibble.
Whereas a raw diet is the best option for overweight dogs (and for all other dogs, for that matter), it won’t work miracles. You’ll need to feed your dog the right amount for her size and activity level. Plus, you’ll need to pick the right raw diet — good-quality raw food contains all the nutrients your dog needs and is low in calories.
Overweight dogs only need about 2 percent of their body weight a day. Once they start losing weight, you can increase to 2.5 percent. To maintain your dog’s current weight, feed her around 3 percent.
Bear in mind that these are just guidelines. If your dog is particularly obese or if you notice that the diet is failing to have effects, you may need to feed her slightly less. On the flip side, if your dog continues to lose weight once she has reached her ideal, you should feed her a little more than 3 percent.
Never just assume that you are giving your dog the correct amount of food. It takes just a few seconds to weigh her food and will significantly increase accuracy.
When your dog has reached her optimal weight, you can start giving her a more diverse raw diet. At the moment, though, you need to stick to lean meats. Chicken, turkey, and whitefish are all ideal, but you should avoid beef, pork, and duck.
Some dog owners think that a raw diet is just about giving their dogs uncooked meat. This could not be further from the truth. Although your dog does not need to consume grains, she does need vegetables and other ingredients with diverse nutritional values. If your dog is just eating muscle meat and organs, she is going to remain overweight and she is going to lack some essential nutrients.
Take a look at some of the highest-quality off-the-shelf raw food products. You’ll see that the meat content is around 50 to 75 percent. These foods also contain ingredients like vegetables, seafood, eggs, and bone.
Both coconut oil and fish oil can promote weight loss. This is because they improve your dog’s metabolic rate, increase her energy levels, and regulate her thyroid function. Either choose a raw food product that already contains coconut or fish oil or add the oil yourself. Just never use both in the same meal, as too much oil can cause loose stools.
All the effort you are putting into creating the perfect raw diet for your dog will be ruined if you give her extras between meals. She may beg when she sees you preparing food for yourself, but stay firm. She will soon realize that her efforts are futile.
If you want to give your dog treats, include them in your calculations along with the food she’ll receive in meals. Furthermore, stick to healthy treats that form part of her raw diet, such as fruits and vegetables.
An excellent way to eliminate the need for treats is to give your dog raw bones. She’ll be able to gnaw at the same bone for hours, satisfying her need for food without gaining many extra calories. Your best options are beef marrow, knuckle bones, and lamb femurs. None of these splinter, nor do chunks break off that your dog could swallow. They are also all much better choices than commercial chews.
In addition to finding the right raw diet for your dog, you must make sure that she receives enough exercise. Her natural energy levels will determine exactly how much is appropriate, but all dogs need exercise every day. Only when you combine the correct diet with the right amount of exercise do you achieve optimal health for your dog.
Click here to get our dog weight loss guide!