We’ve all been there.. feeding a few too many treats during training, adding high calorie extras to enrichment toys or meals. Then the vet says ‘your dog is overweight and needs to go on a diet’. I remember when this happened with Twig, and my first thought was how will I be able to use his enrichment toys?!
Luckily, Twig didn’t need to miss out. I was able to get creative with his daily food allowance, and only a few extras. Here’s some ideas:
Raw & Wet Food Diets
Something I wasn’t aware of at first was that raw dog food is able to be refrozen once it has thawed, as it is frozen so early on in the process, unlike supermarket meat. So it’s easy to stuff a toy with your raw or wet food, or spread it onto a lick mat, and freeze it to make it a bit more challenging. For an extra boost, add water or bone broth before you freeze it!
Another thing I used to do was get an ice cube tray, measure out a meal allowance and fill the tray then freeze. Once frozen, you can use the food cubes in a snuffle mat or scatter feed in the garden.
Kibble is great for day to day enrichment, given how easy it is to use as a training treat, pop in a snuffle mat or scatter feed and treat dispensing toys.
To adjust for stuffer toys and lick mats, you can add boiling water to your kibble portion and make a paste! This is easily spread onto lick mats or you can do this straight into a stuffer toy. This makes it more challenging for your dog, especially if you freeze it.
Extras (remember to account for these into the dog’s daily allowances, not on top of)
Low calorie vegetables like green beans, broccoli and cucumber
Leafy greens - I used to blend them up with water or bone broth and use as toppers, Twig wouldn’t eat them otherwise!
Small amounts of low fat yogurt
Chia seeds mixed with water (these expand and help the dog feel fuller!)
So don’t fret, your dog can still have tonnes of food based enrichment whilst on a diet!
Here’s Twig in 2021, when he was overweight. And Twig in 2023 at a healthy weight. He didn’t lose out on anything in the process, but has gained so much from being fit and healthy now!