Obesity is an enormous problem among both dogs and cats, especially in America. In fact, in a study done back in 2017, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated a whopping 60% of cats and 56% of dogs suffer from obesity.
does this mean, exactly? This estimate actually amounts to several million
American pets. Overweight dogs are at an increased risk for things like:
& connective tissue damage
Skin & Coat
Diabetes & Sugars
Humans use glucose (simple sugars) as a main energy source. Our bodies prefer to use glucose before fats, and certainly before protein. The digestive system of a dog, however, works differently. Believe it or not, dogs do not need sugars or carbs in their diets; their bodies are designed to function perfectly well off of other nutrients.
Sadly, many of the most popular brands out there make plant based foods, meaning their foods consist mostly of vegetables. When it comes down to it, some can be considered little more than glorified bags of corn. With vegetables come starches. Now the pancreas has to deal with more sugars than it was ever biologically meant to.
- Corn has the highest starch content among whole vegetables!
If a dog’s pancreas is overworked for too long, it can stop producing enough insulin to control the excessive amounts of sugar in that dog’s blood. Without continuous medical treatment, the dog can become hyperglycemic, a life threatening condition.
Exercise: From Then Until Now
Think back to the life of the average wolf around forty thousand years ago, probably long before they ever came into contact with humans. These are ‘mostly’ (though they will eat plants or scavenge from time to time) carnivorous pack animals, and some of the best hunters on our planet! Their main senses- smell, hearing and vision, are all finely tuned for one specific reason: to augment their superb hunting and tracking skills.
It takes a lot of energy to track, chase and ultimately subdue their prey. Often these wolves would go for days without eating. Even then, they had to either guard their food from other predators, or bury it to prevent their ‘prize’ from being snatched away. This was a matter of survival, and nothing was easy.
Jump forward to our lovable little domesticated household dogs! Everything is effortlessly given to most of them. The avg. dog still has those same predatory senses, but no longer needs to use them to survive. Forcing a dog to go for over a day without eating is often considered abuse. No longer do they endure such intensive, demanding exercise on a regular basis, and shelter is almost never a question.
Without proper, regular exercise, your pet can suffer weight gain. With weight gain comes countless health problems. On the other hand, you and your pet can go far with regular exercise and a quality diet. On top of great nutrition, you’ll find a wealth of supplemental options open to your pup, helping him or her achieve the perfect weight!
An amino acid that is already naturally produced by a dog’s body, L-Carnitine helps turn fat into useful energy. You can find high levels of this in both red meat and dairy products! Whereas your pup may not enjoy or do well with dairy, a little bit of red meat on occasion would be very natural.
L-Carnitine supplements are highly recommended for dogs suffering from cardiovascular, or heart disease.
As another basic amino acid and part of several proteins, L-Arginine has been used to help boost the immune system, on top of reducing inflammation. Studies on effectiveness with weight loss in pets aren’t conclusive, but there have been positive results in mice studies!
DHEA is a steroid hormone, used by the body when producing/regulating sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen). Whereas studies have shown promising results in weight loss, anything that increases the production of these hormones can carry potential side effects. It’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian if you plan on using this one!
This one is a bit unique from the others, actually inhibiting dietary fats from transferring out of intestinal cells (where nutrients are absorbed) to the bloodstream. Scientists think the acclimation of fat cells here help increase hormones that reduce your pet’s appetite! This one is only approved for use with dogs, and can only be found with a prescription from your veterinarian.
White Kidney Bean Extract
Many studies have shown wonderful weight loss benefits with white kidney bean extract! They are believed to be great starch (complex carbohydrates) blockers, working with both humans and dogs. By interfering with a digestive enzyme meant to break down these complex carbohydrate chains into simple sugars, white kidney bean extract helps prevent the body from absorbing excess carbs!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Found mostly in fish oils (fish), but also included in many quality dog foods, Omega 3’s have shown to be not only beneficial with weight loss, but help maintain skin and coat health! In fact, there are several health benefits associated with Omega 3 Fatty Acids. You can offer fish oil supplements in addition to those found in your pet’s food.
As another dietary supplement, Chitosan is made from starches commonly found in the skeletons of shellfish. Chitosan is believed to bind with fat, preventing fat absorption. As the Chitosan passes along the intestines, it is never digested, and thus fewer calories are gained.
Conclusion: Quality Nutrition, Daily Exercise & Supplements
Exercise and good nutrition found in a healthy diet are your two biggest tools in the battle to maintain your dog’s weight! Thanks to advances in veterinary nutrition, the supplements listed above can only further benefit your pup’s health!