Now that we’re two years into the pandemic, it’s become increasingly obvious that my dog (and, I’ll be honest, myself, too) has gained weight. I’m feeling optimistic that the worst of COVID is behind us and now my dog and I are ready to shed this quarantine weight and get back on track. Any tips for helping my dog to shed the weight?
Feeling Fluffy in Forest West
Dear Feeling Fluffy,
The COVID pandemic had huge impacts on just about every aspect of our lives and weight gain was definitely one of those impacts that many experienced. With humans spending so much more time at home, pets got very used to having their people nearby – and with humans at home and boredom at play, a lot of us did the only thing we could think to do to bring comfort …eat.
Now that life is (seemingly) getting back to normal, many people are ready to get back into their old routines and get back to better eating and exercise. These same goals apply to the world’s pets as well. Here are a few ways that you can help your dog to shed the COVID weight and get back into shape in no time.
Rein in the treats
Dogs love treats and humans love treating their dogs, but too many treats can add up to major weight gain in no time. An easy way to keep your dog’s calories in check is to offer fewer treats. Perhaps make treats more of a “treat” instead of a habit. You can also give your dog pieces of his kibble instead of high-calorie treats if you can’t bear the thought of denying him that which he loves most.
Look for other treat options that don’t include the high-calorie treats to which your dog has grown accustomed. Green beans are a good treat for dogs (look for frozen green beans or no-salt-added canned green beans), as are carrots or small bites of plain chicken.
Be strict with portion control
Have you ever looked at the recommendations for how much you should be feeding your dog based on his weight? You might be surprised to learn that you’re overfeeding your pet. Your bag of dog food should have a helpful table printed on the back, indicating how much to feed your dog based on weight. Measure out that amount using proper measuring cups and feed him accordingly.
If your dog is allowed to free-feed (eating from a full bowl of food anytime he wants), consider switching him to a feeding schedule. Most dogs can be fed once or twice a day. If your dog doesn’t finish everything in his bowl within an hour, take the bowl away.
This is probably a no-brainer, but now that spring is here and the weather is getting nice, there’s no good excuse not to take your pooch on a stroll. Work your way up to going farther and for longer periods of time. Watch for his cues that he’s tired and make sure he’s comfortable and has plenty of water.
I’m sure you and your dog will be back in “fighting shape” in no time! With a little care and attention, you can help transition your pet back to his new, post-COVID normal and usher in the beginning of a healthier lifestyle.