Is Your Dog Overweight?
Of the approx 9 million dogs in the UK, 40% are overweight.
In the UK 36% of Britons are overweight and we have the title of being the most overweight country in Western Europe (not something to be proud of!). It is possible that getting out with your dog could be the start to a healthier lifestyle for you and your dog.
It is recommended that your dog gets 30 minutes of exercise, twice a day. This amount does depend on your dog’s breed and age, we find that, whilst Barney and Sandy don’t mind the odd day off having a walk, or one long walk a day, they are happier (and calmer) with two walks a day. One is a lead/sniffing walk, of approximately 45 minutes and the other is an hour’s off lead walk, where they can run around and play.
In the UK 33% of dogs only get one walk a day, in the long term, this could have a serious effect on your dog’s health. With possible health implications of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and shorter lifespan.
Recent research, from The University of Liverpool, reveals overweight dogs may lead to shorter lives.
The study examined more than 50,000 dogs across 12 of the most popular dog breeds. The effect of being overweight was seen in all breeds, although the magnitude of the effect differed, ranging from between five months less for male German Shepherds to two years and six months less for male Yorkshire Terriers.
It seems our lifestyle choices not only affect us but our dogs too.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Overweight?
Regular Health Checks With Your Vet
Most vets schedule 6 monthly health checks for your dog and at any visit to the vet, they will weigh your dog and make a note of it on their record. So your vet will advise you if your dog could lose some weight.
They will also be able to suggest changes to diet, exercise and check whether there are any underlying health problems which might be affecting your dog’s weight. You can also pop into your vet periodically just to weigh your dog, at no charge.
Look At Your Dog
As owners we have a responsibility to our dogs, because most dogs, would eat, and eat, all day if they were allowed (I know Barney would!).
Many dog owners don’t know their dog’s weight and believe their dog is at their ideal weight. In fact, 55% of dog owners don’t recognise that their dog is overweight, even though, when asked to pick the shape of their dog from the Body Conditioning Score 5% (see photo below) chose the obese shape!
You should be looking at your dog’s;
- Waist ~ Is there a visible waist? Like us, dogs should have a waist. To see the waist, stand your dog in front of you and look down at his body. If a waist is visible you should be able to see the body go in slightly, like an hourglass.
- Ribs ~ You should be able to feel a thin layer of fat, and be able to feel and see the ribs without too much difficulty.
- Abdominal Tuck ~ To check for an abdominal tuck, sit in front of your dog, with your dog side on to you. Look at his abdomen, between the rib cage and hind leg, the abdomen should be tucked up higher, not in a straight line.
Other Possible Health Signs
Other signs that your dog maybe overweight are;
- A lack of energy,
- Poor stamina,
- Gets out of breath quickly,
- Has trouble moving around
- Digestion/constipation/gas problems
- Joint problems
What Can You Do To Help Your Dog
- Know your dog’s ideal weight, so you know what you are aiming for.
- Speak to your vet to find out how much your dog’s daily food intake should be in order to start weight loss.
- Check your dog food feeding guidelines, for your dog’s weight.
- Change your dog food to one with lower carbohydrates and higher protein as this will help your dog to feel fuller, longer.
- Measure/weigh your dog’s daily food portions, to ensure you are not over feeding.
- Feed your dog twice a day, this may help him feel less hungry (although make sure you split the recommended daily intake in half!).
- Ensure treats are included in your dog’s daily food intake amount.
- Change treats from biscuits to vegetables (if your dog will eat them) or natural meat treats.
- No more feeding of scraps from the table.
- Make your dog ‘work’ for his food, by using slo-bowls, hiding food, scattering it.
- Encourage your dog to be more active; longer walks, playing, swimming, chasing after a ball. A minimum of 30 minutes BRISK exercise daily to help weight loss.
- Try a new activity with your dog, there are so many different options; canicross, dog yoga and geocaching. Read our blog post on 4 activities to try with your dog which take place each year at Crufts.
- Ensure everyone in the household is on board (no giving in to your dog’s pleading eyes and whines).
- Have regular weigh-ins/checks with your vet.
- If you have more than one dog or other pets, feed them separately and don’t leave food down for your dog to find, and eat!
- Ensure there is always fresh water down for your dog, he may be thirsty rather than hungry.
- Maintain any weight loss by continuing all of the above, don’t go back to old (bad) habits!
To help our dogs keep a healthy weight, we need to be strict.
We know too well how easy it is to give into the begging puppy eyes, or the whining, that sounds like they haven’t been fed in days! We think, ‘one biscuit won’t do them harm’ but it does, it all adds up to an unhealthy weight for your dog. As your dog loses weight he will become more active, playful and together you will enjoy life more.
Is your dog overweight? Has your dog lost a lot of weight? Do you have any other tips to help your dog lose weight?
We’d love to hear your story.
Barney & Sandy x