If I told you that I knew a way to give you almost two more years with your beloved dog, would you do it?

Day in and day out, I see overweight and obese dogs. Approximately 70% of my patients are overweight (and have dental disease – but that is another article!). This means that many of my patients will die prematurely and have a poorer quality of life due to their being overweight. As with humans, it is hard to lose weight, and requires diligence, more activity and most importantly, fewer calories. However, if you can get your pet to lose weight or approach a healthier weight, it is worth the hard work.

A recent study followed Labrador Retrievers from age eight weeks to 12 years old. In this study, dogs were matched by gender and size and divided in to two groups. Both groups were fed the same food over the dog’s life, just the volume was different. The group of dogs that were fed 25% less lived longer. In fact, these lean dogs lived 1.8 years longer and the common age related illnesses like osteoarthritis did not occur until later in life.

The first step in most weight loss programs for our pudgy pets is to stop feeding human food. Raw vegetables (for example, carrots) are generally ok. Stop feeding scraps from the table as they go straight to the belly! Measure the current food volume being given, and reduce the measured food volume while giving several meals during the day. Your veterinary team member can help calculate the number of kilocalroies (kcals) required for your pet. They can also provide a weight loss program which includes monthly weight checks and tips to succeed.

It is never too late to start your pet on a weight loss program. Sometimes, just losing a few pounds can make a big difference in the activity level of your pet. And, with more activity, your pet will lose even more weight.

I want two more years with my dog! I think it is worth controlling her weight over her lifetime in order to have longer, healthier time with her.