by Jackie Brenda, Dog Guru and Owner of Smelly Dog, Healthy Dog Market and Washhouse

My customers ask me all the time, if they had to narrow it down to just one product, what is the single best item to give their dog? I always say a healthy diet. Keeping your dog a healthy weight is absolutely the best thing you can do for them. You will prevent many health problems like diabetes, arthritis, joint pain, liver and kidney disease and in general, allow them to live a long and happy life.

Stop free-feeding! Do not just put down a large bowl of food and allow your dog to eat at their will. This often ends in a dog over-eating. Plan on feeding your dog two meals a day. Then follow the feeding guidelines on the back of your dog’s food bag. This will vary from ¼ to 2 cups per meal, depending on your dog’s size.

Consider switching your dog food formula. There are many weight-management formulas on the market. Choosing a formula that is not only low calorie, but also low carbohydrate will make this weight-loss task much easier! Look at the ingredients. For all dog food, avoid brands with wheat, soy, corn, animal by-products, MSG, artificial colors and flavorings. BUT go one more step for weight-loss. Grain-free formulas (no rice, oatmeal, barley, etc.) that are also potato-free are your best bet for quicker weight loss. Look for ingredients like peas, garbanzo beans, lentils, or tapioca instead.

Do not feed table scraps! Even a small bite of cheeseburger can really pack on the calories. Keep dog treats to just one or two a day. Treats packed with protein are a good choice. Think about liver chips or freeze-dried liver treats. Pure liver (chicken, beef, turkey, etc.) pack a punch of flavor and health benefits.

Remember that what you put in is what you get out! So follow these pointers, put quality nutrition into your dog and get a healthy, happy pal who will be by your side for years to come!