Do you have a paunchy pooch? It seems the obesity epidemic has spread from humans to our dogs. It is estimated that 45% of American dogs are overweight (that’s over 35 million) and it’s not just puppy fat. Obesity tops the list of nutrition related health problems in canines. It is as unhealthy for dogs to be overweight as it is for humans.
How Being Obese Could Harm Your Dog
Obesity isn’t just an aesthetic issue. Being overweight can be life-threatening and significantly shorten your dog’s lifespan. Dogs that are too fat usually die two years sooner than they would if they remained fit. That’s two more years you could spend with your best friend if you help him maintain a healthy weight.
Not only that, obesity lowers your dog’s quality of life. Dogs that are obese have a much higher risk of developing dangerous medical conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Lung disorders
- Cancerous tumors
- Immune dysfunctions
How to tell if Your Dog is Obese
Veterinarians report that 50% of the dogs they see are overweight but only 17% of owners realize it.
When you look at your dog do you see a waistline? If you run your hands down her side can you easily feel the ribs? You should be able to do both those things if your dog is fit.
Find out how much your dog weighs by putting him on the scales at home or at the vet’s. How does that compare to standard weight charts for his breed? The smaller the dog, the less excess weight it takes to make your dog obese. For example, a 12-pound Yorkie is comparable to a woman weighting 214 pounds.
What to do if Your Dog is Overweight
A consultation with your vet should always be the first step in creating a weight loss plan for your dog. The veterinarian can rule out any medical causes for weight gain and help you determine how many calories your dog should consume a day.
Dogs that need to lose weight do best on a quality dog food that is higher in protein than average and lower in fat than average. That combination helps protect your dog from muscle loss when losing pounds. Feed your dog the amount recommended for his ideal weight, not his current weight and split that into small meals throughout the day. Be sure you use a real measuring cup (not a coffee cup or scoop) to serve a precise amount.
Exercise is Important
Couch potato canines are more likely to be overweight than active dogs. Encourage your dog to walk or play vigorously at least 30 minutes a day. This will stimulate his metabolism and burn calories. Exercise may also help suppress his appetite.
The bonus is that to get your dog exercising you will need to participate by walking him or playing an energetic game of fetch or another activity. You’ll both reap the healthy benefits.
The Secret to Weight Loss in Dogs
Actually, it’s not a secret. It’s the same formula humans use to lose weight: eat less calories than you burn. That means sticking to the daily calorie budget and adhering to an exercise schedule. Commercial treats are a no-no for your dieting doggie but you can prepare him a smoothie treat that will help boost metabolism and energy levels so dieting comes easier. Just use a powerful blender to emulsify the ingredients. This is a low calorie, high protein smoothie so it should fit right into your dog’s diet plan.
Metabolism-Boosting Smoothie to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
1 cup cooked, unseasoned boiled or baked chicken breast, no skin
1 apple, cored, no seeds
½ cup cantaloupe, chopped
4 or 5 broccoli florets
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Enough water to create desired thickness
Put all ingredients in your Omniblend or other high-speed blender. Puree until smooth. May be frozen in ice cube trays for individual servings or you may add a spoonful or two to your dog’s food.
(C) 2014 OmniBlender.COM LLC
Health conscious humans put credence in smoothies they create for themselves, firmly believing that these blended drinks provide superior nutrition for their bodies and they’re right. When smoothies are made in a high performance blender fruits, vegetables and other plants are broken down finely enough to release the powerful phytonutrients hidden beneath the plant’s cellulose. Those valuable phytonutrients are essential building blocks of a strong immunity.
Humans aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of smoothies. Dogs love the nutrient rich concoctions as well. You can make green smoothies, fruit smoothies, or protein smoothies to pump up your dog’s health. There are medleys of ingredients that work well in smoothies for pooches but there are some elements you should never feed your pets. After all, the objective is to improve your dog’s health, not harm it.
Foods You Should Never Feed Dogs
The following foods should not be fed directly to your four-legged friends nor should they be added to smoothies that they will be consuming.
Grapes and Raisins
As juicy and flavorful as grapes are and as much as many of us like raisins, dogs should not eat them. We don’t really know why but these fruits can cause kidney failures in canines. One of the early symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning is recurrent vomiting and within 24 hours the dog will begin acting depressed and lethargic. Don’t leave grapes laying on the table or the counter or anywhere else your dog may be able to reach them.
Some dogs don’t digest milk well and it may cause them to suffer from diarrhea or other digestive disturbances. Milk and milk-based products are also substances that some dogs are allergic to and it will cause intense itching. As tempting as it is to share your ice cream with your pooch on a hot summer day, resist it, for your dog’s sake.
As few as six macadamia nuts can cause severe reactions in dogs. Symptoms include paralysis or weakness in the hindquarters, vomiting, muscle tremors, increased heart rate and an elevated temperature.
A large enough amount of caffeine will kill a dog. There isn’t any known antidote so once a dog suffers a caffeine overdose its chances of recovery are slim. The symptoms include rapid breathing, restlessness, muscle tremors, heart palpitations, bleeding, and fits. Caffeine can be found in coffee beans or grounds, colas, chocolate, cocoa, teas, and energy drinks. It’s also in some medicines and cold treatments which, of course, should always be kept out of reach of pets.
Onions and Garlic
Garlic and onions in any of its forms may cause damage to your dog’s red blood cells resulting in anemia. The occasional small dose may not cause problems but any large amount or regular consumption may be harmful. Signs your dog may be anemic include listlessness, lack of interest in food, vomiting, weakness, and breathlessness.
The jury is still out on avocado but we recommend that you err on the side of safety. Persin, a substance found in the fruit, seeds, and leaves of avocados, may be toxic to dogs when consumed in large quantities so keep your pet on an avocado free diet.
Uncooked eggs are sources of bacteria like E coli and Salmonella. It also hampers the absorption of Vitamin B which can lead to skin and coat issues. So it’s best to ignore the old farmer’s advice about giving your dog a raw egg a day to make his coat shiny.
As you may know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most harmful but every type contains theobromine, an agent harmful to canines. Symptoms of excess theobromine can include diarrhea, vomiting, and extreme thirst, tremors, seizures, irregular heart rhythm, and even death.
Nutmeg and Mace
Although humans find this spice a tasty addition to holiday favorites, smoothies and baked goods, it’s dangerous for your dog. Nutmeg poisoning symptoms include central nervous problems, tremors, seizures, and death.
Pits and Seeds of Fruits
Apples, pears, peaches, plums, and other fruits are good for your pet but the pits and seeds are not. Not only can they cause a digestive obstruction, many of these also contain cyanide. Don’t restrict your dog from fruits; just make sure to avoid the seeds and pits.
There are numerous other foods that your dog shouldn’t eat but you most likely wouldn’t put in a smoothie to improve health. Some of those include salt, sugar, fat trimmings, bones, baking soda, baking powder, and alcohol. These may cause problems ranging from pancreatitis to obesity to death.
Even though you love your dog like family, it’s best not to always feed him like family. Here’s a tasty treat for Fido that has only healthy ingredients. I just whip this up in my JTC Omniblend and in moments I have a tasty, wholesome treat my dogs love.
Orange Doggie Delight Smoothie
½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
½ c. cooked sweet potato
4-5 baby carrots
3 Tbs. pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
A few ice cubes
Emulsify all ingredients in a three horsepower blender and freeze in ice cube trays
(c) 2014 OmniBlender.COM LLC