Alfie Overweight Labrador St Helens Reporter

Is it diet time for your dog?

A staggering 1 in 3 UK pets are considered overweight.

Perhaps the question we need to answer is how big is too big? It seems we’re all expanding (owners and dogs!) and larger becomes the new ‘normal’. We often buy in extra food to stock up during the winter months. This combined with the cold weather can make exercise less appealing for both us and our dogs.

It’s all too easy to feed our dogs extra treats and dinner table leftovers. Often the nutrition of dog snacks is poor and they’re loaded with salt and fat. As dogs will tend to scoff any snacks they find, it down to us to be discerning. But, how tricky is it to resist those soulful eyes and the, ‘If you really loved me, you’d let me have a bit more’ whimpering from your dog?

 

Up to 50% of dogs and cats in the UK are overweight?

The PDSA say they believe, ‘Up to 50% of dogs and cats in the UK are overweight or obese, which can lead to serious long term health problems and a shortened life expectancy.’

Just take a look at Alfie the overweight Labrador who weighed in at nearly double his ideal weight! He was chosen for a nationwide pet slimming competition run by the PDSA Pet Fit Club. But, even he missed out on first place to Luigi the bulging Beagle.

Luigi entered the competition and lost 30% of his body weight (including 8 inches from his waistline) in just 6-months! Something many of us would also love to do.

When the weather is really bad, the dog won’t want to go out and forcing them isn’t advised. The problem is just like us our dogs have a tendency to gain weight when they don’t exercise much and eat too many treats. And although it might look cute to see a chubby dog waddling along the lane, the weight gain can be serious. You only have to see a Labrador struggling to walk with arthritic joints to realise how painful this makes their daily life.

Luigi Beagle PDSA Pet Fit Club Champ 2019

Luigi PDSA Pet Fit Winner 2019 After Dieting!

What’s wrong with a sausage?

Well, ‘One sausage given to a Staffie as a treat is equivalent to one and a half chocolate bars eaten by us!’ According to The Blue Cross charity.

Just 20% gains can greatly increase their risk of developing serious health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis. Plus, reduce their life expectancy.

If your dog eats a healthy, balanced diet and has regular fitness, there are a number of other factors which may influence their weight, worth looking out for;

1. the dog’s age – older dogs are less active and so need less calories
2. breed – some breeds are more likely to gain weight. For example, we’ve all seen tubby labradors, chubby pugs and barrel round daschunds.
3. neutering/spaying – lowers the metabolism
4. medical problems – although less likely, certain medical conditions and treatments can result in weight gain. For example, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.
5. foods high in salt and fat – can make the food taste good and also the dog binge.

Ways to check a dog’s diet isn’t OTT…

Is your dog’s collar getting tighter? Does your dog have difficulty walking? Can you feel your dog’s waist with a slight tapering after the ribcage? Or does your dog walk slower and sleep longer? Does your dog have a bad temper? (Well, okay, some dog’s are naturally more grumpy than others )

But, if you have suspicions, here is one way to figure out roughly how much you should be feeding your dog…

Divide your pet’s weight by 2.2. Multiply this figure times 30. Add 70 and you’ve got a general idea of how many calories you should be feeding a typical inactive, spayed or neutered dog or cat weighing between 6 and 60 pounds. ** [(pet’s weight in lbs/2.2) x 30] +70.

Luigi PDSA Pet Fit Winner 2019 After Dieting!

Doggie food diary?

Another way to keep track of how much your dog eats and who is giving them treats if you are in a family household is to start a doggie diary, even just for a couple of weeks. It should quickly become clear where things are going off track and you can also show the diary to your vet when your dog has a check-up.

Hello, low calorie treats.

Or perhaps switch up the treats. Chunks of carrots, cucumber, rice cakes, apples and bananas, a few strawberries or blueberries and a serving of broccoli are all healthy treats for dogs when given in moderation.

So once, you’ve adjusted your dogs nutrition, calorie intake and amount of exercise, had a quick health check with your vet and swapped out your salty/fatty treats for some of our low cal suggestions, what else can you do to get their weight to a healthy level and maintain it?

Other fun ideas you can try…

More power dog walks. Many of us have, ‘Exercise more’ on our New Year’s Resolution list. Brilliant. Your dog can benefit as well. Grab a good pair of hiking boots and your Gencon All-in-1 lead and off you stride. In need of motivation? How about getting a pedometer and setting daily steps targets? Or if you have the energy, grab the trainers and take the dog for a run.

Bad weather is no problem if you have a combination of indoor space, soft toys and a little dog – to avoid any breakages.

Happy, healthy slimming with your dogs.

Author: Karen White