TREAT WELL: Preventing Canine Obesity
Real talk: canine obesity is one of the most easily preventable health conditions, yet more than a quarter of dogs in the US suffer from it. Being overweight brings with it a host of elevated health risks, from joint damage to muscular injuries to heart disease and cancers.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
With any dieting, the golden rule is that if calories eaten exceed energy expended, weight gain comes yapping at its heels. As good owners who care about the health and fitness of our best friends, it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re not overfeeding our dog. If you’re not sure how much your dog eats, consult the nutritional information on the food and treats they consume, then keep a calorie diary for a few days. Prepare an agreed-upon amount of food and treats the day before, then only feed from this source.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Alongside rationing, balance out treats with an active diet. Not only does vigorous exercise help burn calories and reduce obesity, it also helps you bond with your buddy. Exercise is physically and mentally satisfying for dogs, helping with a host of behavioral issues. You can also bring your pet to a dog park or set up playdates with other owners.
The treats you feed your pup are a form of communication. The better the reward, the more likely they are to perform a behavior again. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a tier of rewards, saving the best ones for the most important activities. For instance, many prey dogs struggle with recall, so save something special for every time they come running back to you.
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH
Try to always use treats as rewards. Not only does this help teach your dog to behave, it also helps prevent begging behavior. Imagine if someone gave you a chocolate bar every now and then for seemingly no reason. You’d probably wonder what you could do to get another. Your dog’s the same, and giving them treats randomly can inadvertently lead to unwanted behaviors, as your dog tries to figure out what they were doing to get rewarded.
TREAT YOUR DOG LIKE FAMILY
As your dog’s owner, you’re responsible for what they eat, so hopefully, with the tips and tricks in this guide, you can keep them healthy at their ideal weight. Even better, when you do treat them, they’ll appreciate it even more.
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