Fighting canine obesity: experts tips to keep your pup fit
Animal health experts at Wynnstay have prepared a handy guide on how to identify if your pet is overweight, common mistakes owners make that lead to obesity and advice on how to maintain a healthy weight for your dog…
Identifying an overweight dog
We understand that many people may wish to check on the weight of their dog but don’t have the time or money for accurate weighing scales or frequent checkups with the vet. Accordingly, look out for these signs that may indicate your dog is overweight or obese:
- Their face is looking larger and rounder than normal.
- You may find it difficult to feel or see their waistline, spine, or ribs.
- Their abdominal area is beginning to droop.
- When on walks or even around the house they are excessively panting.
- They are reluctant to go on walks
- Tiredness and lethargy are becoming common characteristics.
- They may refuse to play or move more than usual.
- Help may be needed to get up larger steps.
It is important to note that these markers, particularly when taken in isolation, do not necessarily mean your dog is suffering from being overweight; however, noticing a few of these signs together is usually indicates that there may be an issue.
Common mistakes owners can avoid
Avoiding feeding table scraps - As animal lovers ourselves, we understand just how difficult it is to avoid doing this because we all love our pets and want to treat them. However, it’s really important to resist the ‘puppy eyes’ when you’re sitting around the dinner table because this is a really common way pups pile on the pounds. Feeding table scraps build bad habits, encourage poor behaviour and can be really bad for your dog. It’s especially important to avoid this practice if you live in a busy home as it can be really difficult to keep track of who’s fed the dog and how much.
Watch portion sizes - Measuring your dog's food at mealtimes and ensuring they’re being fed the recommended amount is really important because it’s very easy, especially with smaller dogs, to overestimate just how much food they need. The majority of overweight dogs are smaller dogs and this is often down to portion size.
Food Intake Should Change With Age - As our dogs get older they naturally slow down and begin needing less exercise, therefore burning fewer calories. Reducing food intake in line with exercise levels should be considered a really crucial part of taking care of your pet as they start to age and will help to keep your dog as fit and healthy for as long as possible.
Our advice for a healthy canine diet
As with people, the best habits that are established early last for life, however, it’s never too late to start to make healthy choices for yourself or your dog! If you fear your dog is becoming overweight the following changes to their lifestyle can make a massive difference…
More frequent exercise is naturally a brilliant way of keeping your pet healthy and burning off any excess calories. If you don’t have the time or ability to go for longer/more frequent walks with your dog agility courses or throwing a tennis ball around are also great ways to get them doing the legwork!
Implement a stricter diet with no excess feeding and the right portion sizes commensurate to the dog’s age and breed. There are loads of great places to get food that is packed with nutrients and goodness.
Smaller but more frequent meals are preferential to a big evening feed as they help your pet by allowing them to digest throughout the day and give them a greater chance to burn off the calories by bedtime.
Following this advice should help you to keep your dog healthy and active at home, however, if you are in any way concerned about the health and well-being of your four-legged friend it’s always advisable to seek advice from a vet or animal health specialist.