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French bulldog smiles up at his owner from the living room floor.

It’s easy to pamper your dog, and as a pet parent, that face is almost impossible to resist. But giving your pet endless snacks and treats isn’t necessarily giving him the love he needs in the long run. In the United States, 56 percent of dogs were either overweight or obese in 2018. That’s a lot of puppy pounds. What’s more is most dog owners don’t even know what their pup is overweight.

But keeping your dog healthy doesn’t have to mean taking everything away from him; it just means giving your dog the right diet and keeping him active. Here are some helpful tips when it comes to caring for your dog’s health.

Cut out free feeding.

Setting specific mealtimes for your pup will help prevent overeating. With a schedule in place, your dog knows when it’s time to eat and learns that begging doesn’t do any good. You are also less likely to dole out snacks and treats if you have a set time for meals.

Do the research.

Learn how diet and lifestyle can impact your dog’s weight. Know her ideal weight and get to know the best practices for maintaining that number. Consult your vet regularly for checkups, weigh-ins, and helpful tips to keep your pup active and healthy, including the benefits of a natural, minimally process diet free of fillers like grains, legumes and starches. Find out how transitioning to a species-appropriate diet can optimize your pet’s weight and her health overall.

Get your dog moving—the right way.

Just walking your dog every day might not be enough, though this is a great place to start. Getting your pet moving is a great way to encourage exercise, but a leisurely walk with lots of sniffing stops isn’t going to do the trick. Encourage your pup to walk beside you at a brisk pace that allows for more calorie burning. Keep him focused on you and the task at hand: staying healthy and happy.

Offer water instead of food.

Like humans, dogs may confuse hunger for something else when really that urge could be satisfied with a fresh bowl of water. If your dog is lurking by the food bowl, try offering some water to divert that desire to eat. Or get down on the ground and give some affection, to shift her attention to you!

If you’re going to treat, treat healthfully.

We all know those puppy dog eyes can be killer, but what’s more harmful? An overweight pet. Monitor your dog’s begging, and don’t reward it with fattening treats no matter how precious that face is. Healthy treats like carrots or broccoli are low-calorie snacks that won’t break the calorie bank.

Get up and play!

One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy weight for your dog while also nurturing the bond you have with him is making time every day to just play. Play encourages pups to get moving, reduces boredom, and keeps their bodies and minds sharp. Plus, it gives you some quality time with your pet.

Explore the benefits of a natural diet.

Dogs live best by eating food they were meant to eat, with an emphasis on fresh meat that includes the micronutrients your dog instinctively craves. A fresh, minimally processed diet will keep your dog in top shape for years to come.