You’ve reduced the amount you feed your dog, switched 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 dog food for overweight dogs: the natural 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 made up of half (or more) grains. This provides your dog with more calories than they are able to use. As a result, their 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, they 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. Our Feeding Calculator is a great starting point for how much to feed your dog. When doing the calculations, you will want to feed them based on their IDEAL weight, not current weight.
Never just assume that you are giving your dog the correct amount of food. It takes just a few seconds to weigh their food and will significantly increase accuracy. Remember this is based on their ideal weight.
When your dog has reached their optimal weight, you can start giving them a more diverse raw diet. At the moment, though, you need to stick to lean meats. Chicken and turkey are ideal, but you should avoid beef, pork, and duck as they have a higher fat content.
Some dog owners think that a raw dog food 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, they do need vegetables and other ingredients with diverse nutritional values. If your dog is just eating muscle meat and organs, they are going to remain overweight while still lacking some essential nutrients. A complete & balanced meal will contribute to reaching an ideal weight.
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 them extras between meals. They may beg when she they you preparing food for yourself, but stay firm. They will soon realize that their efforts are futile.
If you want to give your dog treats, include them in your calculations along with the food they will receive in meals. Furthermore, stick to healthy treats that form part of their raw diet, such as fruits and vegetables. Remember, not all treats are healthy. Choose a single ingredient treat if possible.
An excellent way to eliminate the need for treats is to give your dog raw bones. They will be able to gnaw at the same bone for hours, satisfying their need for food without gaining many extra calories. Your best options are beef marrow, knucklebones, and lamb femurs. None of these splinters, 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 they receive enough exercise. Their 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.