Is your pooch overweight?
Pet obesity is, unfortunately, a common but preventable health issue for our canine friends. The recommendations for weight loss in pets aren’t as farfetched as those for humans wanting to lose weight. As a general rule, your pet is at a considerable healthy weight if: you are able to feel their ribs and spine easily without pressing, you can see their waistline and if their abdomen isn’t sagging. Although obesity in pets can be the result of some medical problems, it can also be the main cause for other health problems, e.g. Diabetes, Arthritis, heart issues and can even reduce their lifespan. Excess amounts of energy in dogs is mainly stored as fat, but there are some other factors that play a bit part in the obesity of your pets –
Age – The risk of your pet becoming overweight or obese increases with age. Just like us humans, older dogs become less active as they get older, as they start to use less energy – If their food intake isn’t altered to suit their new lifestyle, they can soon start piling on the pounds from indulging.
Breed – Some pets are obese due to their meal proportions and pet ownership, but there are some breeds that are more prone to becoming obese simply because of their genetics, e.g. Bassett Hounds & Beagles are just two of these breeds.
Gender & Reproductive status – Apart from more senior dogs, obesity is more commonly seen in female dogs. Neutered dogs, regardless of their sex or breed are more likely to gain excess weight.
Social – A pet’s behaviour can be socially facilitated, meaning that they can be drawn to do something if they see a fellow furry friend doing it. Eating excess food can be influenced when eating alongside another dog. However, being in a social setting of an ‘only dog’ can also be associated with obesity, with their pet owners spoiling them and over indulging them on treats.
So is your pet overweight or on the verge of obesity? Allowing space for a few lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. It is important that you consult a vet and have your pet examined to ensure that you’re doing all the right things to establish a nourished and well-balanced weight loss plan.
Changing your pet's feeding habits & portions
If your pet is overweight or obese, then start progressively changing his or her food, this should be done over a seven day period. Looking into different breeds and their recommended portion sizes can help give you the knowledge you need as a pet owner, without accidently overfeeding them. Try to avoid feeding your pets late at night as they won’t burn any extra calories whilst sleeping. Diets that are rich in all the good stuff like protein and fiber, but are low in fat will help with weight loss will ensure a full feeling while proving them with extra energy.
Just like us, treats for pets have to be limited in order to lose weight. It’s great to reward them with treats when they’re being good but it is almost too easy to get carried away with this and over-indulge them. Rather than taking away all their treats, try to offer them healthy alternatives instead.
Exercise for your dog will have a positive impact on their journey for weight loss. Anything physical should be encouraged so get them excited about their daily walks and activities. Things such as playing fetch or going swimming are also great ways for your dog to start shedding the pounds. If your dog has any medical conditions then take this into consideration when thinking of an exercise plan, maybe do 10-15 minute bursts of training throughout the day.
Follow the recommendations, consult a vet, and it won’t be long until you’ve got their unwanted bulge under control and you start seeing a much more active and happier pet!