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31 Mar Weight loss tips for older dogs

As your dog grows older, maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge for them. With age comes a natural slowdown in activity. Even if they desperately want to, they can’t manage that extra-long walk anymore and your once bouncy ball of energy is now content to plod along by your side.

If your furry friend isn’t getting as much exercise as they once were, it stands to reason that their diet needs adjusting as well.

Whilst it may be tempting to stick to your routines and even indulge your dog in their golden years, the fact remains that healthy dogs live longer and have a better quality of life.

Before embarking on any weight loss routine for your older dog always check with your vet first.

Here are our top tips to help your older dog maintain a healthy weight:

Limit their treats

Treats can be a key reason why dogs put on weight, especially when not considered as part of their daily meals. And whilst we aren’t saying you should cut out treats completely, it can make a huge difference when you start to limit the amount of treats you give your dog.

  • Keep the size down – individual treats should be about the size of your fingernail.
  • Measure out their meals at the start of the day and set aside a little for treats throughout the day – that way you can control the amount of food they’re getting.
  • Switch to healthy snacks – you’d be surprised how many dogs love a crunchy carrot or a piece of rice cake.

Change their diet

As your dog gets older their activity levels naturally drop.  As they slow down the amount of food that they’re getting each day may now be too much or may not be the right type for them anymore.

Before making any changes to your older dog’s diet, you should check with your vet first. They may recommend that it’s time to move onto a dog food tailored for senior dogs or other changes to their diet. 

Keep a close eye on how much your dog eats and drinks. Any significant changes to their eating or drinking habits could signal an underlying illness and should be raised with your vet. 

Short, regular exercise routines

Even if your dog used to climb mountains with you, there will come a time where they can’t keep up like they once did. Whether they’ve got stiff joints, arthritis, or just struggle to find the energy, long walks and intense activity like running are going to be off the list.

That said, they still need a healthy amount of exercise and mental stimulation. Little and often is the mantra here – short, regular walks will keep them happy without wearing them out and keep them in good shape.

To check your dog is getting the pawfect amount of exercise you can use a PitPat. You’ll be able to track their activity levels and weight, and set tailored goals based the information you give us about them, helping you to manage their changing exercise needs.

Keep playtime gentle

Your pooch is still a pup at heart, but they can’t handle the rough and tumble like the used to. Even so, playtime is an important part of bonding with your dog and doesn’t need to stop just because they don’t fancy chasing a tennis ball anymore.

Instead, focus on gentle play that provides mental stimulation. Our list of 10 ways to exercise your dog indoors has some great examples including:

Training

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks! Just go easy on the treats and be patient with them.

Hide and Seek

Hide some treats around the house or room and let them loose to sniff them out.

Food Puzzles

Put some of their daily food allowance in a food puzzle and watch them figure it out. It’ll keep them busy and slow them down when eating. (Psst – PitPat Life members can their points for prizes including our favourite food puzzles!)

Doggy Yoga

Follow an online video to help you and your dog stretch out – go gentle with them and let them participate as much or as little as they want.

Track their weight

Use the PitPat app to track your dog’s weight on a regular basis – it’ll help you quickly spot any trends, such as losing weight or gaining weight which can be symptomatic of health issues, particularly in older dogs.

The information you record there, together with their activity levels monitored by the PitPat app, will help your vet get a better picture of fluctuations in your dog’s weight, enabling them to give you accurate diagnoses and recommend appropriate care for your pet.

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