Pugs, the lovable butterball little dog breed, are prone to many things: snoring, cuddling, and bringing their family an insane amount of joy. But they’re also prone to some unhealthy habits, like overeating, being obsessed with food, and having a face it’s hard to say no to. It’s easy to overfeed a pug, and it’s easy for a pug to amass extra chub under their rolls and wrinkles.
But overfeeding your pug can have dire consequences. It will make their sensitive breathing even worse, and will shorten their lifespan. It’s best to keep your pug fit and healthy, and keep their weight under control.
Unfortunately, it’s not only pugs suffering from these problems.
Pet obesity is an epidemic in the United States. According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. That translates to over 100 million pets.
>Does your pug need to go on a diet? Here’s what worked for us, and how we got Boogie, our own pug, to shed the weight.
Our pug obesity story:
Before we adopted Boogie, we were given his stats by the rescue. He was a pure breed pug, one year old, and he weighed 17 lbs. He sounded perfect and we were super excited to be adopting a pug!
The morning of the meet and greet, we got up early and headed to Brooklyn. Boogie, then named Milo, would be arriving with a bunch of other adoptable dogs from South Carolina. Brooklyn was the last stop on his road trip.
We got there, and lined up with the other adoptive and foster parents as the van pulled up. Out jumped Boogie and my eyes widened. He was….big! Much bigger than the 17 lbs we were imagining.
It turns out the paperwork was wrong, and that stick straight number 1 should have actually been a 2. He was 27lbs!!
We took him for a walk to get to know him before signing the adoption papers, and quickly fell in love. We officially adopted him that day, and promptly made a vet appointment.
The vet confirmed our concerns – Boogie was overweight. He would have to lose at least 7lbs.
Thus began a long journey to get healthy and lose the extra chub. 7lbs may not sound like a lot, but when you’re only 27lbs it’s more than 20% of your body weight.
After months and months of research, trial and error, and patience, we made it to our goal.
Here is how we got our pug to shed the extra pounds, and how you can do it too:
1. Make homemade dog food
Food was our biggest hurdle on our quest for Boogie to lose the extra pounds.
He was allergic to some grains, and we couldn’t find a dog food we liked. Diet dog food is expensive, and sometimes hard to find (especially if you travel!).
After speaking to the vet and other dog parents, we decided to feed Boogie homemade food. It was the best decision we could have made. Not only did it help him lose weight, but his chronic ear infections and fold irritation cleared up.
While many pet parents are lead to believe that feeding dogs human food, or table scraps, is bad, it doesn’t have to be. By making your own dog food, you’re in complete control of what your dog is putting in their mouth. That means fresh vegetables, proteins, and organ meat, and no harsh chemicals and preservatives often found in commercial dog food.
You can check out a recipe and video of how we make his food, if you’re interested.
2. Daily Walks
Opening the back door to let your dog out, or bringing them downstairs for a quick pee isn’t enough.
Although Boogie goes out 3x a day to do his business, we make sure that at least one of those is a longer walk. That means running an errand around the neighborhood, or just taking a nice stroll together.
On these outings, I make sure we’re walking at a good pace and not just stopping to smell every hydrant. He gets to stretch his legs and spend a good amount of time outdoors.
If you want to step it up a notch, bring your dog to the park or go on a doggy play date. Promoting physical stimulation and play will help them stay active and fit.
3. Easy on the Treats
Pugs love treats! They’re fun to give as a reward. In fact, every time I open the fridge or a cabinet door, Boogie perks up in the hopes of getting a tasty snack.
We never fully cut treats from his diet, as they’re such a good motivator (especially when training!). But we did limit how many he received, and how frequently.
Sub out regular dog treats and use carrots or blueberries instead. They’re just as tasty, but much healthier. You can also try low calorie treats.
Don’t forget: always make your pug work for their reward!
4. Weekly Dog Park Visits
Going to your local dog park will keep your dog active and social. They’ll have an opportunity to be off leash and around other dogs who will motivate your pug to run and play.
We went to the dog park weekly, and while Boogie doesn’t play much, it was still a great opportunity for him to be around dogs and walk around a safe space on his own. Being active is important, both to burn calories and to make sure your pug doesn’t have the opportunity to nap all day long. Plus, it’s a great way to bond.
If there isn’t a dog park near you, you can always go to a local park, and if it’s too hot or cold to go outside, organize a puppy playdate.
Other ways to be active include:
- Playing fetch
5. Work Out
Did you know that doggy push ups are a thing? Yup! If your dog knows the sit and lie down commands, they can do them.
Here’s how: make your dog sit, then lie down, and then come back up to a sit. You can give them a treat after each push-up to motivate them when they start. Then start mixing it up, with a treat after two push-ups, four push-ups, and so on. Work them up to doing them faster, and in unison. Don’t forget lots of praise!
This doggy work out helps your pup focus and burn some physical and mental energy.
Besides physical working out, there’s also mental work outs that can help your dog. Enrichment is important because it stimulates your dog, keeping them happy and entertained. It’s like exercising their brain.
You can make mealtime fun, challenging and interactive, and stop your dog from gobbling down food super fast by using slow feeders. They’re a great way to satisfy your dog’s innate instincts and curiosities.
Plus, they slow your dog’s eating time by 10 times, and allow for proper digestion. Here are some slow feeders we love:
6. Spread the Word
We love going to pug events or hanging out with other dog people, but sometimes, that can be tricky. People love to bring treats and shove them into little dogs’ mouths to make them happy.
While they tend to have the best intentions, they’re hurting anyone whose pet is on a diet or has allergies. Not all treats are created equal, and whatever they’re feeding your dog could be helping to pack on the pounds.
Spread the word that your pups diet is restricted and they aren’t to be fed any treats, no matter how healthy. Your dog can help get the word out too, with this “Don’t feed me, I’m on a diet” dog tag.
There’s no way to know if what you’re doing is working unless you do weigh-ins from time to time. They’ll help you keep track of the weight lost, and let you know if you’re on the right path.
Make sure to record your weigh-ins and weight, so that you can compare from week to week.
Don’t have a dog-friendly scale? Try this pet scale for easy weigh-ins.
Does your pug need to go on a diet? Share your journey in the comments!
Learn more about pug stuff here.
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