How to get my Chihuahua to lose some weight? A comprehensive weight loss plan for your Chihuahua!
Like humans, obesity among Chihuahuas leads to numerous health complications and a significant reduction in life expectancy. In other words, by neglecting your Chihuahua's weight, you deprive your pooch of its fundamental right to a long and joyful life.
Why do Chihuahuas Get Overweight?
Once it comes to obesity among such breeds as Chihuahua, the problem's roots are pretty understandable. Unlike many other species that accompany their owners on long walks or outdoors exercising, Chihuahuas are considered to be lap dogs.
Many owners simply get confused with their cute, seemingly fragile looks and forget that they are still dealing with a dog. Locking a Chihuahua at home without an opportunity to accompany an owner on the walk around the neighborhood, explore the world and fulfill their instincts, people simply don't let their dogs be dogs. Naturally, it leads to numerous health deviations, and weight problems are among the primary ones.
Another common reason for Chihuahuas` being overweight is their cute looks and outstanding begging skills. However, it is essential to understand that your Chihuahua begs for food from the table or an extra treat not because he is hungry but because you encourage this kind of behavior.
Each animal sees food as the primary motivator. For domestic animals, food is also a reward. Every time you provide food for your Chihuahua, he sees it as a reward for the action he did right before it.
So, if you gave a piece of sausage or an extra treat to your furry friend once he just looked at you with his big eyes when you were eating, he will instantly think that you enjoy this kind of behavior. Dogs naturally want to please us, but it often becomes the reason they fall into a vicious circle of mutual misunderstanding with their owners.
You think that your Chihuahua is begging for extra food because he is hungry, while the dog feels that you provide a treat because you enjoy the begging.
Veterinarians claim that is one of the main reasons for obesity among Chihuahuas. You can compare it to psychological addiction to food. But in this case, there are two addicts: you and your dog. You both become the victims of the same flaw, which may lead to severe physical and psychological complications.
Of course, the main reason for Chihuahua's obesity is that they often lay their hands (paws) on food that is not intended for them. Even though your dog is a righteous family member, it is still not a human. Dogs have a different digestive system; their bodies require additional nutrition and proceed products differently. That's why it is crucial to know how to properly feed your Chihuahua!
Their noses and taste buds are much more sensitive than ours. And so are their stomachs. There is a reason why dogs have their food divided even by the breed's size, age of the animal, and other specifics. Even if you decide to stick to a raw diet and feed your Chihuahua with meat, oats, and other unprocessed products instead of industrial food, some numerous rules and limitations help you develop and maintain a perfect nutrition plan for each breed.
An occasional piece of sausage or cheese or letting your Chihuahua clean the plate after dinner does not fit any nutrition concept and become the most common reason for obesity among dogs.
How Do I Know if my Chihuahua is Overweight?
The average weight of Chihuahua varies between 1.5 and 3 kg (3.5 – 7 lbs). Of course, those numbers depend on many factors, from the gender of your pet to its precise type.
However, as long as you see your furry friend every day, it is pretty natural that you may not even notice the fact that he, or she is gaining weight or starts to look irregular. After all, not everybody can weigh their dogs at home regularly and track their weight.
Well, first of all, it is the main reason why you should take your Chihuahua to routine checkups with a local vet at least once in 6 months. However, three signs instantly demonstrate that your chubby little munchkin might have weight problems:
- You cannot easily feel your dog's ribs
- The dog does not have a visible "waistline"
- When you look at your standing dog down, his body reminds of a barrel more than an hourglass
If at least two of those claims are accurate for your Chihuahua, there is a reason to get concerned about his weight.
Like humans, losing weight for Chihuahuas is a challenging process that will require a certain level of determination from you and your pet. Let's go through the main principles that constitute an efficient and healthy weight loss plan for your Chihuahua.
How can I get my Chihuahua to lose some weight?
Before starting the practical weight loss routine for your Chihuahua, it is essential to collect all the necessary data. Pay attention to the following details:
- How much your Chihuahua is supposed to weight
- What are the mandatory nutrition components for your Chihuahua
- Considering the local food market, climate, and other peculiarities
- What products are strictly forbidden for your pet
You may collect all this information from numerous online forums and websites. However, it is always essential to address the veterinarian who is familiar with your dog's overall health condition for a personalized expert opinion and advice.
FOOD OR EXERCISE:
As we have already mentioned, weight loss routines for pets and humans are more or less the same. However, there is a crucial difference.
Metabolism of Chihuahua usually is much faster than a metabolism of any other dog. And, of course, it is entirely different from humans.
When you decide to lose weight, your coach or healthcare provider will tell you that exercise and proper nutrition are equally crucial for the optimal result. It is not entirely true for dogs. Usually, veterinarians agree on the following ratio:
- Diet is 60-70% of healthy weight loss
- Exercise is 30-40%
However, it does not mean that exercise is less important for a dog. Once you balance your Chihuahua diet, exercise won't just enhance the result but become a strong motivator to help your furry friend adjust to new nutrition easier.
The biggest challenge for most Chihuahua owners is to determine the portion size for their dogs. Many people don't give any extra treats or food from the table to their Chihuahuas and even provide them daily 15 min walks, but still, end up with an obese pet.
It happens because most of us blindly follow the manufacturer's portion recommendations we see on the dog food packages. It is essential to understand two things about those recommendations:
- They don't consider your Chihuahua's peculiarities
- Every manufacturer wants you to buy food more often; therefore, the noted portions are usually at least 10-15% bigger than they are supposed to be
For example, spayed or neutered Chihuahua wastes up to 30% less energy during the day. It means that once you follow the instructions on the package without considering your dog's peculiarities, you risk overfeeding your Chihuahua about 45% every day.
It is the main reason why a vet's expert opinion is so essential for a dog's healthy nutrition. However, suppose you cannot address for comprehensive consultation right now, or your Chihuahua doe’s not facing any dramatic weight problem. In that case, there is an easy DIY way to count the necessary nutrition ratio.
Resting Energy Requirement formula for a Chihuahua
Resting Energy Requirement formula (RER) allows you to calculate your Chihuahua Metabolic Energy Requirement (MER) that will consider such specifications as spaying and neutering, age, gender of your dog, etc.
Here is the formula:
Your Chuhuhua`s weight (kg) X 30 +70
2 kg X 30 + 70 = 130
Then you can see the number of necessary portions and calories for your pet in THIS table. It also offers additional bias to make the calculation more precise according to your pet's age, lifestyle, health condition, the goal of the nutrition plan, etc.
Treats are not the only way to reward your Chihuahua!
Once again, every dog, whether a Chihuahua or a Sheppard, is a food-oriented being. It means that food is the most efficient motivator for your pet.
That is why many dog owners and professionals consider treats the most efficient training tool. However, treats are also food, and that should also be divided according to the dog's size and condition. Many dog owners don't see the difference between various treats or tend to simply overfeed their Chihuahuas during the training process. It is also essential to avoid "human" treats such as sausage, cheese, etc.
Once you notice that your Chihuahua is overweight, cutting on treats is another efficient way to help your pet lose some weight. Try to explore other ways to reward the dog for good behavior, such as playtime with a favorite toy (you need to limit the dog's access to the toy before) or affection.
Weight loss is as challenging for a 2 kg Chihuahua as it is for a 100 kg human. But unlike most of us, our pets may have reliable and devoted friends who are willing to help and support them, supervise their nutrition and encourage regular exercise. We can be those friends.
Moral support and encouragement are as important for dogs as it is for humans and the overall success of the weight loss program depends on your attitude and determination. After all, dogs feel and reflect our state of mind.