Does Your Dog Need to Diet?

Does Your Dog Need to Diet?

A study by tailor-made dog food company Tails.com has revealed that over 3.8 million dogs in the UK are overweight or obese, with nearly a quarter of owners (23 per cent) claiming they have tried to put their dog on a diet. New data also shows that a third of owners (33 per cent) have overfed their pets, with five per cent admitting they have even sent their pet to ‘doggy bootcamp’.

These figures were obtained by questioning 1,000 dog owners and analysing data from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA). According to the research, only one in five owners are aware of the recommended weight for their dog. A total of 71 per cent feed them human treats such as cheese or biscuits, over half feeds them more than twice daily and a third lets their dog eat leftovers or scraps. 

There have also been reports of diabetes in dogs soaring up to 850 per cent in the past five years, with weight gain the number one cause of the obesity-related condition.

Dr Samantha Ware, the former Royal dogs nutritionist and lead nutritionist at tails.com, comments: “Fad diets can be as bad for dogs as they are for humans often leading to weight, skin and behavioural problems, so it’s important to make sure your dog is fed a nutritionally appropriate diet."

Dr Sean McCormack, head vet at tails.com, has outlined the main telltale signs that your dog might be in need of a change of diet, which is best discussed with your vet:

 

1. Weight

  •  You find it difficult to feel your dog’s ribs when running your hands over their chest
  •  From the side, their tummy hangs down toward the floor at the same level as their chest instead of ‘tucking up’ towards their groin and hips
  • From above, their tummy just in front of their hips is the same or a similar width to their chest rather than being tucked in to form a visible waist

 

2. Dental hygiene 

  • Your dog has bad breath and/or inflamed gums
  • They have difficulty chewing or favour chewing on one side of their mouth
  • Their teeth are stained yellow or brown, or have a hard crust of brown tartar visible

 

3. Dull coat, dermatitis, dandruff

  • When running your hand through your dog’s coat you notice patches of red, moist, dry, flaky or inflamed skin; similarly, any strange raised lumps, fleshy growths or discolouration should be checked by a vet
  • If your dog’s coat is dull or skin is dry, tailored diets with extra oils and other supplements are often very effective ways to increase coat shine and skin health

 

4. Energy

  • Your dog refuses to eat or has less of an appetite than usual
  • They are sleeping more often than normal
  • They are out of breath, panting, stopping more frequently or refusing to carry on whilst out on walks
  • Your dog is excessively thirsty or may not want to play their favourite games or come to greet you as usual
  • They may appear confused, disorientated or even have a toileting accident indoors

 

5. Digestive problems

  • Your dog has a loss of appetite or reduced appetite
  • They are experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea, or you are hearing gurgling or rumbling tummy sounds
  • Your dog may flinch when their tummy is touched, or may be reluctant to move around
  • An altered position can also indicate stomach pain. The praying position for example is seen with pancreatitis; front legs stretched out, head down and back end arched up
  • Increased gas and flatulence or a bloated abdomen, or blood or mucus in stools
Jessica Barratt

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