If you have a fat dog at home, you are not alone; more than half the pets in America are overweight or even obese, as per the Association for Pets Obesity Prevention (APOP). This can lead to a lot of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, various forms of cancer, and arthritis and can also reduce your dog’s life by many years. Veterinarians consider the excess weight as a preventable problem. When you take steps in time to keep your dog in ideal body weight, you can help them live healthy lives and keep away some preventable diseases in the future.
Since your Shih Tzu can’t feed or walk itself, it is your duty to manage how and what he/she eat and the level of exercise it gets each day. Here are some tips on how to keep your pet at a healthy weight:
1. Check Its Body Condition
Taking steps to help your dog maintain a healthy body condition contributes to it having a high-quality life. It is crucial that you start practicing these habits early in the life of the dog. If your dog is an adult, take a closer look at the shape, if you can feel the dog’s rib outline or see if he has a waist by observing from above or if the belly appears tucked when you view from the side, your dog most probably has an ideal body condition. However, if these three angles of observation don’t give you the above results, then you should visit a veterinarian first to rule out health problems. If your dog is at optimal health, your job will just be to maintain this through regular exercises and proper nutrition.
2. Visit Your Veterinarian
Since we are not all experts in canine health, it is prudent to regularly visit your vet who has a sound knowledge of your pet’s health history. Before making any changes to your dog’s life, for example, change of nutrition or increased exercise, you need to discuss it with your vet. There may be some underlying health issues causing the pet to gain or lose weight, and it’s your vet who is in a position to advise accordingly. They know the type of food to give your dog to recover its weight or to lose the excess pounds.
3. Watch It’s Diet
By sticking to a high-quality balanced diet, your dog can have a long and healthy life. As soon as you can, start the dog on proper nutrition to bring up to and maintain a healthy weight. If your Shih Tzu is a puppy there are puppy-specific formulas that provide the required nutrition to help bring its weight up at a steady rate.
Adult dogs need to eat the correct type and amount of food to help them stay at a healthy weight. An overweight dog should be fed a formula with a low-fat and low-calorie count so that it can lose the extra weight it is carrying. Look for dog food with labels like weight management or healthy weight.The packaging in most cases has guidance on how much to feed the dog depending on its breed and weight. You should regularly monitor the dog’s weight as you reduce the amount you feed him each meal until you reach the desired weight. If the pet continues to gain weight, the food should be adjusted again.
If you’re not sure how much food you should feed your dog, look at the labels on the food which will usually offer guidance on how much to feed your dog (this usually varies depending on its breed and weight). You should regularly monitor the dog’s weight as you reduce the amount you feed him each meal until you reach the desired weight. If the pet continues to its maintain weight or even gain weight, the food should be adjusted again. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on this.
The benefits of exercise for dog and humans are widely known. Other than discouraging destructive behavior in dogs when they are bored, exercise keeps the dog active and burns calories. The muscles are also worked regularly for a healthy body and cardiovascular system.
Talk to your vet before introducing a new exercise regime. The amount of training the dog should get must be closely monitored so that you don’t overwork it. Shih Tzus are well known not to tolerate too much exercise and they may overheat and have breathing problems if you over-tax them. Older dogs may not manage as much endurance as the younger ones.
An appropriate and enjoyable exercise routine should be introduced early in the life of your Shih Tzu. Try and stick to this routine, for example, a morning walk or evening jog depending on your lifestyle. Young dogs with lots of energy will probably enjoy a short jog, swim or chase balls or even playing at the dog park.
5. Give Plenty of Water
After meals or exercises, the dog will want to take some water. Ensure the water bowl is topped daily with fresh water. Encourage your dog to drink often and make sure you take him or her out regularly to use the bathroom as you don’t want to have accidents in your home.
All these plans and actions should be carried out under the advice of your vet. Making plans and changing diets without help may harm your dog or take you in circles without any meaningful change. Your local veterinarian knows how to keep your dog at a healthy weight and is the right person to lead you through it.
How to Keep Your Shih Tzu at a Healthy Weight