As a nation of dog lovers we can’t help but indulge our pups. But with pet obesity on the rise, a little morsel here and there soon adds up. And if we’re not careful, all those sneaky treats can lead to a podgy pooch.
While many owners use food as a way to shower their dogs with love, it could be doing more harm than good, because overweight dogs are more prone to illnesses and don’t live as long as dogs at an ideal weight. So if you think it’s time your porky pup lost a few pounds, read on for our top tips on dog weight loss the healthy way.
How to tell if a dog is overweight
All breeds have standard weight guidelines. And while this is a good place to start, every individual dog is different. Rather than the numbers on the scale, what you should really pay attention to is the amount of extra coverage on your dog’s body. To understand if your dog is under, ideal or overweight, vets often use the body condition score (BCS) test.
The test is measured either on a 9 point or 5 point scale, and assesses your dog’s fat levels across your dog’s ribs, tummy and waist. Your dog should have an hourglass figure when viewed overhead and even breeds like bulldogs where many people believe they will be more rounded should have a waist. You should be able to feel the ribs through a little fat covering and they may even be slightly visible in places. And the tummy should tuck up from the rib cage, rather than being a straight line across.
If your pooch is more barrel shaped and you can’t feel their ribs easily without applying a lot of pressure, then your dog is likely overweight. If you’re unsure, your vet or vet nurse will be able to help you and even show you exactly what to look for when it comes to your dog.
Health implications for overweight dogs
Not only does the lifespan of an overweight dog decrease, but it can seriously impact your pup’s quality of life. The extra weight can put added pressure on bones and joints, potentially leading to arthritis in later years. But it can also put your dog’s life at risk, contributing to breathing difficulties, heart problems and diabetes.
Top tips to reduce your dog’s weight
There are 3 key areas to consider when managing your dog’s weight loss in a healthy way.
Dog diet food – Feeding the right diet for your individual dog is the first important step. Balanced meals packed with nutrients, slow release carbohydrates and beneficial fibre will help your dog feel fuller for longer. It’s also important to control portion sizes and feed the exact amount your dog needs to lose weight steadily, and eventually maintain a healthy weight.
Which is why here at tails.com we can create a recipe tailored for your pup to maintain a healthy weight. And with exact portion recommendations and our adjustable portion scoop, you’ll know you’re serving the right amount of food every time.
Regular exercise – Exercising your dog every day will help burn off excess calories and keep their body healthy. Alongside the right nutrition and portion sizes, a regular exercise routine will help bring your dog’s weight down steadily and predictably. It also gives your dog something else to focus on during the day, by providing mental stimulation – dogs are a bit like humans, they get peckish when they’re bored!
Limiting treats – We know it’s difficult, but cutting out treats altogether is the best approach for healthy dog weight loss. Or at the very least, limit the number of treats and offer healthier options that aren’t high in fat, sugar or calories. Raw vegetables like carrots and cucumber are a good alternative to human food or shop bought treats. Related blog – Managing your dog’s weight and how to keep it under control