How to Choose the Best Low Fat Food for Dogs
Since dogs love food, it is the natural tendency of most owners to slip them a few extra treats every now and then. Unfortunately, this habit can quickly to lead to weight gain, and getting pounds off a dog is far harder then putting them on in the first place.
Unfortunately, even a modest weight gain can cause significant health problems in dogs. Excess weight can contribute to the development of more serious illnesses and can even alter the dog’s lifespan. Thankfully, a commitment to daily exercise and a low-fat diet can help get Fido back in shape again.
Sadly, veterinary professionals indicate that as many as 60 percent of the pets they see carry excess weight with some of their patients falling within the category of obese. It is important for dogs that fall within these parameters to begin a program to remove excess pounds before their health is permanently impacted.
Among the health problems that can plague overweight or obese dogs are inflammation, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis, bladder stones, exercise intolerance, and more.
Though obesity is one of the most frequently seen problems in dogs, it can be treated with an excellent quality low-fat diet and moderate daily exercise. Once a healthy body weight is achieved, this body condition must be maintained for the dog to continue to enjoy improved health.
The best low-fat food for dogs can be a powerful help in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Low-Fat Dog Foods
Low-fat foods are carefully crafted to ensure dogs remain satisfied even though the diet contains fewer calories. One of the most important elements of any low-fat food is that it remains extremely flavorful to encourage hearty eating. Through the use of lean proteins, low-fat diets can maintain a delicious taste while bulking up on fiber-rich vegetables to help dogs feel full on fewer calories.
Care must be taken to carefully measure the dog’s food to ensure overeating does not occur. When feeding a low-fat diet, treats should be eliminated or at least severely restricted, so as not to interfere with weight loss efforts. Many owners like to set aside a portion of the dog’s kibble to use as treats throughout the day.
To determine how much of the best low-fat food to feed a dog, it is a good idea to follow the suggested serving sizes found on the side of the bag. Use these as a starting point, making adjustments based on the dog’s weight or visual appearance until the correct amount is found.
Do not use the dog’s appetite as a guide as dogs who are overweight often do not understand when they have eaten a sufficient amount of food and will eat far beyond the point of satiation if permitted to do so. For dogs that regularly seem hungry in spite of adequate meals, choose instead to bulk up the dog’s portions through the addition of fiber-rich, low-calorie vegetables such as canned pumpkin, green beans, or carrots.
Dietary Requirements for Low-Fat Dog Foods
It is very important when starting a dog on a low-fat food that the amount of food given should not be drastically altered within the first week. Feeding too few calories can lead to setbacks and can also encourage the development of poor manners such as excess begging. Just as with people, physical and emotional satisfaction are important components to the diet’s success.
Not all low-fat dog foods are created equally. It is important to select a food that is comprised of the highest quality ingredients included in the correct ratio to encourage eating satisfaction. To this end, the primary ingredient in any low-fat food suitable for dogs who need to lose weight is a lean protein from animal origins. Whole meats are preferred, but meat meals also are an excellent dense source of high-quality protein.
By-products are low quality and offer far less nutritional value, and thus, should be avoided. Plant-based proteins such as corn, wheat, and soy are very hard to digest and can cause stomach and skin distress in many dogs. The best low-fat foods for dogs do not contain any of these items.
Carbohydrates play an important role in low-fat foods, providing the necessary dietary fiber that helps dogs to feel full. Fruits and vegetables are often the best sources as they offer not only staying power through their fiber but also antioxidants to help fight disease. Since digestion and elimination are critical components of any weight loss program, high-quality carbohydrates are an absolute must; whether they are derived from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables.
Healthy fat also plays a role in weight loss. Fats contributed through such ingredients as salmon oil or chicken fat provide dogs with the energy they need to remain active and well. These fats also benefit the dog through maintaining good skin and a healthy coat.
As a general guideline, low-fat foods should contain at least 18 percent protein. Fat totals generally range between 5-10 percent with slightly more acceptable but not less.
Low-fat food is not restricted just to dogs that need to lose a little weight. It is also an excellent choice for dogs suffering from such problems as pancreatitis or irritable bowel disease.
Things to Look for in the Best Low-Fat Dog Food
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a low-fat dog food:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Contains 5-10 percent fat