Being overweight is unhealthy for an emotional support dog. Just like with humans, if a dog has excess body fat, it will eventually lead to a whole host of health complications. Overweight dogs are more likely to get sick and, ultimately, to die before their time. The stress on an overweight dog’s heart and cardiovascular system is intense, and this takes its toll on an ESA dog’s health over the long term. Diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are all more likely for an overweight emotional support dog. But luckily, obesity is a reversible condition. New and better lifestyle habits can reduce a dog’s weight and improve its health and longevity dramatically. Here is how to get an overweight emotional support dog to slim down.
Do More Exercise
When you boil it down to its simplest terms, the basic fundamental of weight loss for all creatures is “move more, eat less”. Most of the tips in this article are basically aimed at achieving one of these ends. If you can increase the amount of time your overweight emotional support dog spends exercising, whether that’s taking a slow stroll, moderate jog, or playing a game of fetch in the park, your animal will lose weight. The more your overweight ESA dog moves, the more calories it will burn and the more weight it will lose. Take your dog outdoors to walk, play, and move as much as you possibly can; certainly once per day, but ideally more. If your dog is overweight, it is unhealthy and at risk of disease, so if you care for your ESA, you will put in the effort to take it out to exercise as much as possible. It is advisable to gently increase the duration and intensity of exercise all the time. This means your dog will always be getting trimmer and fitter.
Make Exercise Fun
The more your overweight dog enjoys exercising, the more it will be willing to do it. If you can make your dog’s exercise sessions fun, soon it will be begging you to go outside more, bringing you its lead, scratching at the door, and chomping at the bit to go and play. You can make exercise fun for your overweight ESA dog by playing games such as fetch, making obstacle courses, kicking a ball back and forth between you and a friend and having your dog chase it – you are only limited by your imagination! So instead of just walking the same dreary route every day, make exercise sessions into fun “playtime”. If your overweight ESA dog can develop a love for physical play, it will soon shed the pounds and become slim and healthy again.
Another way to make exercise more fun is to take your dog trekking in nature. The constantly changing scenery of a nice nature trail will ignite your emotional support dog’s imagination and excite it much more than a mundane walk around the same old block it’s been treading for years. Dogs have an intrepid nature and taking your dog to a novel environment will fire it up. Your overweight ESA dog will find a new lease on life if you take it trekking, and in the process will become much more fit and healthy.
Stop Feeding Your Dog Leftovers
Human food is very often not the healthiest thing a dog can be eating, especially if that dog is overweight. Leftovers are often rich and high in fat, salt, and sugar. Dogs (and humans, as we can see from the obesity epidemic raging across the United States!) are not built to handle a diet of rich, processed foods packed with sugar and salt. If your dog is overweight, it is a sign that it is eating too much of the wrong food. If you typically feed your ESA dog leftovers from your dinner table, you will need to stop doing this in order for your dog to lose weight and regain its health and longevity.
Feed Them High-Quality Dog Food Only So if you aren’t going to be feeding your dog leftovers anymore, the best thing to give it in order to maximize its health and allow it to return to a healthy body weight is high-quality dog food. Most dogs prefer the taste of a wet, meat-and-jelly-based dog food. This should be mixed in with a hard, dry dog food, as dry dog food contains a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. If your emotional support dog is used to eating rich leftovers, it may turn its nose up at dog food on the first few occasions, but when it realizes that it has no other option and that leftovers will no longer be forthcoming, it will learn to love its new food. Living on a diet of healthy, high-quality dog food only will soon allow your dog to lose weight.
No Between-Meal Snacks
Intermittent fasting is a great weight loss tool for humans and animals. Dogs are not meant to graze on food all day long. Their bodies need (and thrive on) periods of fasting. When a dog is in a fasted state, its body has a chance to fully process the last meal it ate, its system has a chance to rest, and its metabolic processes have a chance to return to a baseline state. Being in a fasted state for some period of every day also usually results in an overall reduction in the amount of calories consumed. The best way to introduce periods of fasting into your dog’s day is to have a set meal time and to not give your dog random snacks in between its set meals. If your ESA dog has a strict daily regimen of when it eats, it will soon slim down and become much healthier.