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What would motivate you to help your pet lose weight? Would the promise of a more active, happier life do it? How about the prospect of saving money overall on vet bills?
Did you know that over half of all pets (roughly 56% of dogs and 60% of cats) in the United States are overweight? Many pet cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other severe health concerns can be directly linked to obesity.
“As a small animal veterinarian, I see overweight pets daily. Obesity is one of the most common ailments I treat. But it’s also one of the biggest pet health concerns that YOU have a lot of control over as a pet owner,” according to Dr. Alison Birken of Victoria Park Animal Hospital.
With these staggering statistics, what’s the answer to this obesity epidemic?
It’s simple, really—just like with humans, diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss.
Today, we are discussing exactly what’s causing pet obesity, how we can help our fur babies live their healthiest, longest lives possible, and the best weight management dog food options.
3 Common Reasons Your Dog is Overweight
Like humans, the number of calories and the quality of food makes a big difference in your dog’s weight.
If you feed your dog too much, your dog will be overweight.
If you use a pet food diet composed of low-quality ingredients filled with sugar, fats, and salt, your dog can gain weight.
Dogs are bred to be active animals. They need to run, play, hunt and swim.
Humans and dogs have shared their lives together for thousands of years. As we evolved, humans have become increasingly less active, living more sedentary lifestyles. Our dogs have followed suit. Dogs just aren’t getting the kind and amount of exercise they need.
Designate time in your day for high-impact exercise that goes beyond daily bathroom break walks. Intense exercise is crucial to maintaining an ideal weight.
Pets may slow down, gain weight, and become less active as they age. It’s a natural progression of life. However, it is important to ensure that these processes are not caused by disease.
It’s important to have your pet evaluated annually with blood work to identify any potential diseases as early as possible. Treating diseases early may prevent unhealthy weight gain.
The Best Ingredients for Weight Management Dog Food
Exercise is definitely important, but the one thing you have total control over in helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is diet. While the number of calories your pet consumes daily plays a huge role in weight management, the quality of ingredients is just as crucial.
When pets eat foods high in sugar, fats, and salts, they often want more, even if they don’t need more. Sound familiar?
Kibble-based pet food diets often contain high levels of sugar, fats, and salts in order to increase palatability. Your pet grows to crave this food, which can be very dangerous.
Read that again… Our pets can be addicted to processed sugars and fats just like us!
Food is love—it is a huge part of the human-pet bond. And it is unbelievably hard to say NO to your adorable, sweet, loving pup when they seem hungry.
Let’s stop this cycle.
Best Diet Dog Food Ingredients – DOs and DON’Ts
Let’s take a closer look at a weight management dog food comparison and see what you need to look for in the best diet dog food.
Include Whole Food Ingredients
It is easier to digest and utilize inherent nutrients when consuming foods in their natural form. Dr. Birken recommends “a high quality, clean, whole food ingredient diet when choosing a weight management dog food diet.”
“These types of diets not only help maintain weight but also ensure an overall healthy life,” according to Dr. Birken.
Feeding your dog a diet made with whole carrots, sweet potatoes, and real meat ingredients is key to managing weight.
Limit Fillers Like Pea Protein and Rice
Fillers are exactly what they sound like. Empty calories used to fill your pet up. They may not contain all the nutrients your pet needs, leaving your pet hungry and undernourished.
Limit Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods, like kibble, can actually slow digestion. And as mentioned previously, these processed diets often contain additives to make them taste better, leading to cravings, begging, and overeating.
“When my pet parents switch their fur babies to whole food diets, my patients lose weight quickly, stop overeating or begging because of cravings, and become much more active,” says Dr. Birken.
And it makes sense why that’s the case—when we eat clean and healthy, our cravings subside, we eat less, and we feel great, too!
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Weight Management Dog Food
Maintaining a healthy, recommended weight is one of the most important health decisions you can make for your pet.
“I recommend taking them off processed kibble and switching to a high quality, whole food nutrition diet, like Side by Side Freeze Dried Patties or Tetra Stew. You will see a remarkable difference in your pet’s overall health and wellness in no time,” suggests Dr. Birken.
Take the guesswork out of knowing the food your furbaby needs with Side by Side’s Pet Health Profile assessment. Learn more about how your dog can live a longer, healthier life – plus get $5 off your purchase of $10 or more!
Dr. Alison Birken is a small animal veterinarian in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. She owns Victoria Animal Hospital, is the co-founder of Forever Freckled, wife to her amazing husband Rob, mom to her 3 greatest accomplishments Luke, Leah & Hayden and dog mom to her Saint Bernard Dory