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Tips for Living Well with Your Dog: Health and Nutrition

Tips to help your dog stay fit, trim and healthy

Second of a four-part series

he latest front to open in the war against the battle of the bulge involves dogs, and our loyal pals need our help if they are going to win.

A study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that nearly half the dogs in the United States have a weight problem. The report found 43 percent of all dogs were classified as overweight or obese by a veterinary health care provider and 10 percent were classified as obese.

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A book about a rescue dog
that will touch your heart

THE HUNT OF HER LIFE, is a nonfiction book about Samantha, an unwanted rescue dog who the author adopts at age 2. This beautifully designed full-color deluxe book, by longtime newspaper journalist Joseph A. Reppucci, contains more than 60 vibrant color photos of dogs to help illustrate the compelling and uplifting story of Samantha - a pretty tricolor bird dog who uses her warm personality to win people over and build a new family after being put up for adoption by a hunter because she is gun-shy and afraid to hunt. Learn how she uses her special bonding abilities with people to help her eventually make a transition from the hunting fields to family life. While reading the The Hunt of Her Life, you will travel with Samantha and the author along a trail filled with surprising twists, sudden turns, mystery and even what some call a miracle. And when the journey is finished, you may never look at people and their pets, motherhood - and perhaps even God - in the same way.  The Hunt of Her Life is must reading. It will take you on a captivating journey - a trip like no other - that will touch your heart.

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In my experience, I have discovered that no two dogs are alike - even if they are the same breed and have the same energy levels - when it comes to weight control. I have had two energetic English Setters: One a finicky eater who never gained an ounce, yet the other ate like a horse and needed careful monitoring to avoid packing on the pounds. My family also has had two powerful Siberian Huskies: One a nibbler who would eat just enough food to satisfy herself, while the other craved food so much that she would plunder raw vegetables - her favorite was string beans - from our backyard garden.Canine weight problems appear to be individual in nature, making dealing with them tricky because what works for one dog may fail for another. So an owner must use trial and error to tailor a diet and exercise routine that works best for their loyal companion. The most important thing is to confer with your veterinarian and to keep trying until you find the right regimen for your pal.Try some of these ideas:

  • Consider switching to low-fat dog food. Most major brands have low-fat offerings. One of my dogs who began packing on middle-age pounds had good success with Hills Prescription Science Diet W/D dry, which is high in fiber, lower in calories and contains chicken. It also comes in can. For dogs who love fish, Royal Canin has some high fiber/low fat offerings in wet form. Calorie Control (CC) is a high fiber food which contains salmon and Low Fat (LF) has white fish. The Royal Canin offerings also come in dry form and contain chicken. You must get a prescription from a veterinarian to buy these foods.
  • Get regular daily exercise. Like people, dogs that become couch potatoes will get chubby - so keep them active. It is tempting to skip that vigorous daily walk if your pal has a fenced yard or deck. But this is no replacement for going to the park and running. If your dog must stay on a leash, consider using a 15-foot extender leash to allow your dog to easily trot ahead and side to side as you walk along. This will dramatically increase the amount of activity your pal is getting during a simple walk.
  • Measure out the amount of daily food and split it into several small meals. Feed your dog three or even four times a day, including a small meal just before bedtime. This will make your pal feel like he is eating a lot more and prevent him from having an empty stomach. Like their human counterparts, dogs also seem to want to gorge themselves when they have the hungry horrors caused by going a long time in between meals. And try feeding your pal a combination of can and dry to add variety.
  • Use dry dog food for snacks instead of treats or table scraps. Give your dog a combination of wet and dry food. Give your pal wet food as the main meal and use low-fat dry food for treats in between meals. If you prefer to use only dry food, then feed your dog two kinds to add variety. Use one for main meals and the other for snacks.
  • Find the correct balance of food and exercise. A lot of trial and error comes into play here. If the low-fat food fails to accomplish weight-loss goals, then cut back on the daily amount of food in small increments so your dog does not feel deprived. Do it over the course of months. For example, if your pal eats three cups of dry food a day, drop the amount to two and three-quarters cups for a month. Then check his weight. If necessary, cut back another half-cup for a month until you reach correct balance.
After you find that ultimate balance of the right kind of food, the appropriate number of feedings and the correct amount of exercise, stick with it. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine, which helps them to relax. They will adapt to the regimen and even look forward to it.

Health and Nutrition
Part 1: Unnatural truth about natural dog food
Part 2: Tips to help your dog stay fit, trim and healthy
Part 3: 'Speak' to your primary care veterinarian
Part 4: Working with a veterinary specialist

A carefully plotted strategy of diet and exercise is the best weapon we can give our loyal companions to help them succeed in the war against obesity.

Book sets signed by the author available here!

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SERIES: Order your set signed by author Joseph A. Reppucci! The Original will touch your heart and the Sequel will lift your soul. *The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Signed Set
*The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Holiday discount Book Sets

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SET (unsigned) is offered for a limited time each year at a special holiday discount rate of 25% off. The discount applies to orders received from November 1 through December 24.

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