Dear Seth, I have a female Labrador that is 3 years old and has been sterilized since 6 months. She is a very overweight dog. How can she lose weight please? Thanks, Neermalah Mootoosamy
This is an all too common problem in the United States. Recent studies claims 45% of dogs are overweight and another claims that a dog at ideal weight averages 2 years longer life than an overweight dog. I believe this is because with excess weight come diabetes, heart disease, Cushing disease and hypothyroidism. To organize a weight loss plan, speak with your vet regarding the ideal weight for your dog. It may surprise you what his weight actually should be. Then your vet can assist you in calculating the calories in the food you feed him and how many calories he needs to lose weight. A dog food calculator can also be found on the internet and help determine this number.
Another big factor is your dog needs to eat less and exercise more. Simply having access to free run the house or a yard is simply not enough for most dogs. Getting him on a steady exercise routine will melt the pounds away much quicker. Simply switching your dog to a lite or diet food may not be enough for the desired weight loss. Sometimes the lite food is simply more carbohydrates and less meat, so be sure to read the label and compare.
If you are concerned that your dog is still not losing weight, contact your veterinarian so you can rule out disease processes. Usually, simple blood tests can determine if there is something else going on. Dogs commonly have an underactive thyroid function (hypothyroidism). This decreases activity levels and creates sub-optimal metabolism that allows for increased weight gain. Once properly diagnosed, a medication is added to the diet and exercise, resulting in quicker results. If needed, your vet can prescribe an FDA approved dog weight loss medicine called Slentrol. Your vet will know best if this is indicated. I would only use this if exercise and food restrictions are unsuccessful.
Did you have success with dog weight loss? Tell us about it in the comment section below!