Cover your pet’s ears for a minute--we need to talk about his weight. You’ve been trying to pretend that you don’t see it, but the pounds have been packing on and now he’s two bacon strips away from looking like the dog who ate your dog. It’s time to finally get serious about slimming down, and we’ve got 10 tips to get you started.
Visit the vet. Make an appointment and get your vet’s input on a target weight and an ideal calorie count for your dog. Not only will you be getting sound medical advice, it will make you more accountable. Before you leave, make a follow-up appointment for six months. Viola! Now you’ll have some explaining to do if you don’t follow through.
Reduce caloric intake and swap out empty nutrition. If you’ve been filling the dog bowl with a scoop of food anytime you see it empty, it’s time to regulate meal time. Now that you have a calorie count in mind, break it down into 2 mini meals. This will give your dog a steady intake of calories and he won’t notice the reduction as much. (Pro tip: set alarms or reminders on your smartphone to help you build a habit.) And remember that all calories are not created equal. Swapping starch-loaded kibble with real food will not only give him more bang for each calorie buck, but will change the trajectory of his health.
Replace snacks with other rewards. Does that spoonful of peanut butter make your dog’s butt look big? YES. Toys, belly rubs and play are all excellent non-caloric subs.
Weigh regularly, and at the same time of day. Make like it’s 1992 and create a spreadsheet to track your dog’s weight. Once every week or two is a good measure, but make sure it’s at the same time of day for best accuracy.
Add 15 minutes of exercise time. Yes, yes, you’re extremely busy and important, but you definitely have 15 minutes of time to spare per day. Just ask your Instagram account. A brisk 15-minute walk with your dog will give him cardio strength, burn some calories, and allow just enough time for you to capture and post a pelfie (that’s a pet selfie). Bonus: this will help you get in your 10,000 steps, too!
Watch for patterns. Your spreadsheet will help you track progress and display patterns you might otherwise miss. For example, if weight loss stagnates or reverses, it could indicate a hormonal issue like hypothyroidism.
Take your dog with you. No, he’s not welcome in your spin class, but you could probably take your dog more places than you realize. And when you’re counting calories burned, all those extra little trips can add up.
Make a playdate. Getting together with another dog and owner takes the playtime pressure off you. You and your pal can sip chai lattes and talk politics while the dogs wrestle and sniff each other’s butts. (Or the other way around, if that’s how you roll. We don’t judge.)
Feed table scraps to the garbage can. Yes, it was an effective way to pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but letting the dog lick up all those fatty, salty calories is bad news. Even one serving of high salt, high fat table scraps is enough to spike your dog's blood pressure to dangerous levels and screw with his digestion.
Have a maintenance plan. Once you reach that goal weight, you’ll need a plan for maintaining it. Consult your vet again to determine what that should look like. (Hint: it doesn’t look like the pre-diet plan, which got you in this sitch to begin with. Just saying’.) Generally speaking, this should be the resting rate of your dog, plus extra for the amount of exercise that is part of your new routine.