Tips to Avoid Dog Obesity
In 2018, the PFMA interviewed 277 vets that attended the London Vet Show, asking them about their thoughts on obesity and nutrition. A staggering 73% of them admitted obesity to be one of the most prevalent conditions seen in their clinics! They believe more than 50% of dogs to be overweight which is a worrying dog obesity statistic.
The risks of dog obesity:
Being overweight can make your dog suffer from more health conditions than dogs in a normal range of weight. Dogs are more sensitive to weight gain than humans and just a few extra pounds can sadly shorten their lifespan. In the long run, the risks of obesity in dogs are:
- Low mood and energy levels,
- Breathing difficulties,
- Heart disease and high blood pressure,
- Liver disease,
Is my dog overweight?
It’s really hard to tell whether our dog is putting on weight so how do you know if your dog is overweight?
- Firstly, look at their body from the top and sides
- Now look at your dog from above, do they become narrower (slightly) behind the ribcage? If you look at them from the side, does their stomach stick up behind the ribcage? If so, then they are probably at a healthy weight.
- Consider, does their body have definition? If not, or they become rounder in that area, then your dog may need to go on a diet.
- Finally, feel their ribs Can you feel the ribs beneath a thin layer of flesh when you run your hands along their sides? Then they are probably ok. If not, it may be time to take action.
Differing body shapes and lifestyles make it tricky to know if your dog is overweight. If you are not sure about your dog’s weight, visit your vet who will be able to advise you on a healthy weight range for you dog. They will also give you safe steps towards addressing any issues through diet and exercise.
What can I do to keep my dog healthy?
Prevention is easier than cure. Therefore it is a lot easier to keep your dog in good shape than to make them lose weight when they are suffering with dog obesity. These tips to keep your dog in shape are easy to follow and will help you keep the weight away in the first place:
The only proven way of losing weight or keeping weight away from any animal is to keep calorie intake and calorie usage in a balance. Eating too many calories without burning them off is what makes your dog gain weight. Dogs are naturally very active animals, and they need to be walked regularly. Aim for at least twice a day for 30 minutes (an hour a day). This keeps your dog stimulated, happy, healthy and relaxed. If this amount of exercise is a drastic change for your dog, do not do this suddenly. Consult your vet and come up with a plan to increase the activity gradually. Perhaps consider an activity tracker to keep an eye on just how much they are moving each day.
A healthy diet:
A weight loss plan for your dog should be supervised by a vet. Make sure you are feeding your dog the right food for them and in the right amounts. You may need to make a switch to a food with fewer calories and more fibre and protein. You could try raw dog food ? It has been proven to improve digestion and behavioural problems that could be making your dog eat more without you realising. Consult your vet before making any sudden changes. In other words, changing a dogs food should be a gradual and planned process in order to avoid unsettling their stomachs.
Keep an eye on the treats:
You have changed your dog’s food for a healthier one, but they could still be getting too much food though treats. Dogs are scavengers by nature, which means that they will eat anything they find in their way. Begging for treats is a trick that works very well for them. However, do not be fooled into thinking that they are hungry. Beware them getting a little here and there from different members of the family- this could be adding up to a huge amount of extra calories. Human food is often not suitable or nutritious for dogs and is filled with unnecessary calories for them.
If you want to treat your dog, for training purposes for example, simply choose natural low fat treats and factor them in to your dogs daily food allowance.
Healthy dog=happy dog!
By remaining aware of your dogs usual healthy weight you are able to prevent them becoming overweight, prevent the issues associated with dog obesity, and keep them as healthy as possible. Monitor their weight when you visit your vet for boosters/ check ups etc. In addition, know how they look and feel (see above). Importantly, carry out regular dog health checks are home to notice any changes that have occurred in them physically and behaviourally so that issues can be tackled early.
Do let us know how you keep your dog healthy in the commented below. What food do you find suites them? How do you monitor their treats?
More of our dog health information here.