Obesity in dogs is a common problem and like humans, your dog needs a balanced diet and the right amount of exercise to stay fit and healthy.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog is important to ensure that they have the best quality of life with you. Managing your pet’s weight can also help to aid their mobility and prevent joint stiffness.
As their owner, its key to understand what a healthy dog should look like. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. There are common signs that your dog may be overweight which include: trouble breathing, unable to groom themselves, no definition, trouble getting around and constipation.
Finding that balance of a good diet and exercise for your pet can be tricky. To help your dog lead a healthier life, here are some positive changes you can make:
There are two ways you could help to manage your dog’s diet and reduce their calorie intake. The first would be to simply feed them less food and the second is to feed them a dog food that is low in fat, low in carbohydrate and high in protein. If you are unsure, consult with your vet, who will be able to advise a sufficient diet for your dog’s age and health needs.
Measure their food
To ensure you don’t over feed your dog, measuring out their food at set times of the day can help to control their intake. Don’t leave food out all day for them to graze, feed your dog small portions at set times. This also prevents your dog from eating too quickly, which can aid digestion.
Although it may be tempting to give your dog the odd little treat, any that they have should be included in their daily calorie allowance, or reduced altogether. Also prevent other members of the family from sneaking treats and food from dinner plates to your dog.
Keeping your dog active is just as important as a nutritional diet. Exercise also improves muscle tone, increases metabolism and helps to reduce boredom in your dog. Your vet will be able to advise the amount of exercise that your dog should be doing dependent on their age, breed and health needs. If possible, don’t just walk your dog, although this is great exercise, playing fetch with them and using their favourite toys can also help to shift unwanted weight.
Regular vet visits
To help maintain your pet’s weight, regular vet visits will offer an opportunity to monitor their progress. Your vet will be able to advise on how much weight they need to lose. Consult with your vet before you start a new food or exercise routine for your dog. This will also offer an opportunity for your vet to check their overall health.
Multiple pet homes
If you have more than one dog or even a number of different pets, feed them separately to prevent your dog from eating food not intended for them.
Leave human food out of reach
Don’t feed your dog food not intended for them, such as human food. Some human food will not only be more calorific to your dog but could cause sensitive digestion. Be sure to place food that is not intended for your dog out of their reach.
Don’t crash diet or starve your dog
Reducing your dog’s food intake and upping their exercise should be enough to help reduce weight. Don’t put your dog on a crash diet or starve them as this could prevent them from getting essential nutrients.
To help maintain a healthy weight for your dog, speak to your vet who will be able to advise the best course of action and provide support during any weight loss or exercise programme.