Does your dog need a diet? -

Does your dog need a diet?

We all know America has an obesity problem. Unfortunately, it extends to canine Americans as well -- and at least one-third of the people who own obese dogs aren't even aware of it. Our pet pro, Luciano Aguilar, shows you how you can help your pooch shed those extra pounds.

"While I'd never presume to tell somebody else how often they should eat to stay trim and healthy, when it comes to dogs, I'm a lot more presumptuous," says Luciano. "If you want to keep your dog from getting fat, I suggest putting him on a regular feeding schedule."

Just like with humans, calories have a way of creeping up on dogs. In fact, if your dog takes in just one percent more of the calories he needs, he could be 25 percent heavier than he should be by middle age.

"Dogs with excess body weight are not only lethargic, but they also often suffer from a variety of health issues like hip and joint problems. So it's important that you watch what they eat," says Luciano. "And the best way to do that is to control when they eat!"

So how often should you feed your dog?

For puppies, Luciano suggests three feedings a day. By the age of one, you shouldn't feed your dog any more than twice a day.            

"For a dog that eats twice a day, I suggest morning and evening feedings, like 6AM and 6PM," adds Luciano. "Dogs tend to relieve themselves 15 to 20 minutes after intake, so this gives him ample time to relieve himself before you go to work in the morning and go to bed at night."
When it's time for your dog to eat, he should have good table manners. Place him in the 'sit' position and have him wait politely to be released to eat. The last thing you want is for your dog to jump up and spill the food onto the floor.

Once you release your dog with an enthusiastic "ok," let him eat. Give him 15 minutes to finish his meal. After 15 minutes, time's up. Pick up the bowl and put it away until his next feeding. This teaches your dog that when his meal is served, it's time to eat and not time to play or do something else.
"Feeding your dog a set amount of food at scheduled mealtimes will not only keep him at a healthy weight," Luciano explains. "You'll also be able to tell if he loses his appetite or stops eating, which is often the first sign of an illness."

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