Helping Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
We all want our dogs to be healthy, and to live as long as possible. Sadly, obesity is causing more and more issues for our furry friends, but we have the power to improve our dogs’ lives! In our society we often show our love through food, and this extends to our dogs as well. Unfortunately, obesity can lead to health problems like pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease, disc disease, ruptured cruciate ligaments, hip dysplasia, compromised immune systems, and several types of cancer.
What Does a Healthy Weight Look Like?
With boxers, you should be able to easily feel their ribs, as they should be covered with only a minimal amount of fat. They should have a clear waist behind their ribs, and their abdomen should “tuck up” when they are viewed from the side. Boxers should not have any discernible rolls of fat on their neck, spine, or the base of their tail. They should appear on the lean and lanky side.
How Can I Help My Dog Get Healthier?
Measure their meals carefully- it can be easy to overfeed your dog without you even realizing how much they’re getting. Use a measuring cup!
Reduce portion size slightly- as little as a 5% reduction in normal dog food (⅛-¼ of a cup) and an addition of healthy veggies can get your dog’s weight moving in the right direction. Feed this amount for 2 weeks and then recheck your dog’s weight. If they haven’t lost anything, reduce their daily food another 5%.
Increase exercise- for most dogs, running around the backyard is not enough exercise to help with weight loss. Depending on your dog’s current activity level, start with a couple of short walks a day and work up to longer, more fast paced walks. Playing fetch in the backyard is another great way to build in exercise.
Put meals in a Kong, Buster Cube, or other food-dispensing toy so they have to work for the food, leaving them feeling more satisfied due to the effort.
For rewards, use tiny treats, healthy snack ideas, or non-food rewards (toys, pets, playtime). Treats can easily add a lot of unnecessary calories to their diet.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Apple slices (seeds and core removed)
Watermelon (seeds and rind removed)
Carrots (make sure to cut up if raw)
Green beans (fresh, frozen, or no-salt canned)
Sweet potato (cut into thin strips and baked at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours until it’s like jerky)