3 Tips To Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight

Obesity is the nations’ pet epidemic, it’s so important to fight the flab! Being overweight is a serious risk to your dog’s health. Carrying too much weight impacts joints, bones, spines and can greatly increase the risk in dogs who are more prone to develop diseases like diabetes and heart disease. It is important to keep our furry friends healthy and
lean if we wish them to have a long and healthy life.

A good diet, such as Nutriment which is made with quality ingredients, instead of processed diets with low quality and inappropriate ingredients can help a great deal, however, some dogs are prone to being overweight and this should be managed carefully and over a period of time.

Weight-loss diets are NOT fat-free diets for dogs. It doesn’t work like this. Fats are as essential as bones and meat. Fats are not only important for the brain, it gives dogs their energy and it plays an important role in cell regeneration.

If your dog is carrying too much weight then consider the following things:

1. Go Easy On The Treats

Are the most difficult thing when faced with these gorgeous eyes looking up at you! However be extremely honest with how much you are giving treats, and what treats you are giving, this includes titbits – consider those too!

Pizzles, for example, are quite fattening and large, opt for smaller and leaner treats such as dehydrated turkey hearts (see recipe here), little fish or dried liver chews.

Treats can really pack on the pounds. If you are doing a lot of training with your dog then again look at your training treats, consider whether you can give leaner treats or smaller treats.

2. Body Score Your Dog

It is good to weigh your dog regularly, however, Body Scoring can also be extremely useful. See the easy steps and chart below.

Growing dogs commonly carry a little more weight – this is good as they need the extra to account for growth spurts.

It is important to note that we are not talking about fat and chubby puppies, but just a little extra weight that will distribute naturally as they age.

It is also worthwhile to remember that even puppies from the same litter or dogs of the same breed can vary massively in terms of build, so consider your dog unique and individual also in terms of weight. It can be pointless to compare your dog to his/her littermates or your neighbours’ Visla.

If after body scoring you think your dog needs to lose weight, then weigh your dog, next take 2% of this current weight as the daily food intake. Or alternatively, if you know what the average weight should be for a dog your age and breed – take 3% of the ideal weight for the daily intake. It’s important to start using scales to weigh out the food and be able to over a period of weeks lower the amounts.

Other good tips are:

– bulk out the food a little with vegetables.

– make your dog work for their food, consider a slow bowl or stuffing dinners in a stuff-able toy.

Older age can play a big role too in terms of weight as dogs age their metabolism can slow down making them more prone to weight gain, keep reviewing your friend so they can age gracefully.

How to Body Score your dog

The dog should be stood square and on an even surface.

Step 1 – Feel the ribs.

Spread your hands across the ribs. Ribs should be felt easily with a small amount of pressure. Ribs that can be felt with no pressure indicate the dog is underweight. Ribs that are difficult to feel with harder pressure indicate a dog that is overweight.

Step 2 – Feel and observe the waist.

The waist should be smaller than the width of the rib cage and should increase again by the pelvic area. If the waist is narrow with no hourglass shape the dog may be underweight. If the waist is the same width as the last ribs then the dog is overweight.

Step 3 – Feel the base of the tail.

Feel for the hip bones and the spine in this area. The area should have a smooth contour but the bones can be felt with a small amount of pressure. Protruding spine and hip bones may indicate the dog is underweight. Where the hip bones are difficult to feel, even under harder pressure, the dog is overweight. Overweight dogs may also develop a roll of fat at the base of the tail that can give the appearance of a dimple.

3. Get The Right Amount Of Exercise

Exercise, just like for us two-legged, is essential to shift the flab- again slowly does it! Make walks longer, perhaps go for long weekend walks. Perhaps look into joining an agility club, not only great to get your dog in good condition but it’s great fun for you too.

If you can, include hydro-therapy or a river or lake swim on a regular basis. Swimming is fantastic weight-loss exercise.

Finally, your dog will, in the end, feel so much better within themselves once they are lighter, fitter and less sluggish.

Remember though weight-loss is a long-term thing, there are no quick fixes and it’s better to go slow.