Dieting on the Buddy System — Losing Weight with Your Dog

white labrador

Dieting on the Buddy System — Losing Weight with Your Dog

You know how much better it is to embark on a project with a friend? Especially a task that isn’t so much fun—like cleaning out your basement…or going on a diet?!

I had a light bulb moment when I realized how hard it is to get the weight off your dog—fat that you have put on there with over feeding.

Weight loss has been proven to work really well when you have someone going through it with you, which is why Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and similar programs have given people satisfying results. The trick, of course, isn’t just to drop the weight, but to do it slowly, surely, and then maintain that lower weight with careful eating choices and habits. By having a diet buddy in your dog, you can watch her weight drop down little by little, and be encouraged to keep at it yourself or vice-versa.

Even if you stop giving constant treats, you still may not see any weight loss from cutting out the snacks. For some dogs, the problem has to do with eating a totally carbohydrate heavy diet—all kibble—which can leave a dog hungry enough to beg pitifully while packing on the pounds!

Most of us eat too many carbs, too. We all have some weight we’d be happy to shed. So why not go on a gentle, manageable weight loss regime alongside your dog!

The first change you can make is to substitute half a can of a good quality dog food like Spot’s Stew (or a ½ cup of cooked meat, chicken or fish) for ½ cup of the kibble you’ve been giving. The real meat protein and the natural fat in fresh food can keep a dog feeling satisfied for longer.

That’s what we did in the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge and not only helped take the weight off our participants but they changed their eating habits forever and are proud of it! John’s Xena the Pomeranian continues to stay in touch about never having gained back the weight she happily shed.

For yourself, substitute low-carb vegetables (and hold the butter or sauce) for the rice, potatoes or pasta you might usually eat alongside your protein. Simply lightening the carb load can make a change in metabolism,. Once you get a greater awareness of how many biscuits you give your dog throughout the day (and chips or cookies for yourself) you can switch to some vegetable snacks for you and your dog in between two satisfying, meat-inclusive meals.

It’s great to have someone to turn to when you crave a doughnut instead of a carrot stick, and your buddy system can help you past that moment. It’s usually the belly bulge or the handful of fat on either side that we want to lose. It takes determination and patience for a change in food choices to slowly have their effect, for us and our canine pals.

We all know that our dogs are generally too heavy—they are carrying pounds of extra fat around their necks, shoulders, waists and chests. That extra fat on dogs has been scientifically proven to take as much as two years off a Labrador-type dog’s life—as well as lowering her quality of life because running and playing are much harder when you are lugging around extra weight.

It’s always advised to check with your vet to make sure your dog is “healthy enough to go on a gentle weight loss program” but I can pretty much assure you that any vet would be thrilled to know his clients are working to manage the most serious pet health problem we have in this country: fat cats and pudgy dogs!

Baby carrots to the rescue! Lightly steamed green beans! Strips of red pepper! Stalks of celery! Keep a bowl of them in the fridge (sprinkled with water to keep them appealing) and share them with your dog, making it a game for her by tossing it into her mouth or thrown for her to chase.

Change what goes in your dog’s bowl—change your own meal habits—and before long you’ll both have a lighter spring in your step!

—Tracie Hotchner

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photo credit: Saar via photopin (license)

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