Up to a third of UK pets are estimated to be overweight but according to research from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, many pet owners don’t even realise. As many as 8 out of 10 pet owners mistakenly believe that their pet is a “normal” weight when they are actually overweight or obese.
Experts recommend some simple checks for checking your dog’s risk factor for canine obesity. If you can’t easily see and feel the ribs and there is no obvious definition to the waist, your dog could be one of the many UK pets who is currently overweight.
Being overweight can lead to health issues for humans and this is the same for your dog. Risks include diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, high blood pressure and some cancers. As well as increasing the possibility of physical problems, canine obesity can also impact on your dog’s well-being and quality of life.
Some dog breeds are more prone to obesity, and this includes Cairn terriers, Scottish terriers, dachshunds, beagles, cocker spaniels, Bassett hounds, Labradors, golden retrievers, rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards. If your own one of these breeds, it’s a good idea to keep an even closer eye on your dog’s weight.
Lifestyle will often be the main reason that your dog is overweight. Spoiling your pet with yummy treats and the odd bit of human food here and there soon adds up and if your dog is one of the breeds that is more prone to putting on weight, this can be enough by itself. Lack of physical activity can be another culprit. Fortunately, lifestyle-related factors can easily be undone by changing your dog’s diet and incorporating more exercise into his or her daily routine.
Diet: Cutting out treats can go a long way towards helping your dog to reduce their body weight, especially alongside more exercise. If this isn’t enough, you may want to talk to your vet about moving your dog onto a prescription diet. These are designed to provide low-fat and low-calorie meals that will encourage your dog to lose weight while also providing a balanced diet. There are various prescription diets available.
Activity: Taking your dog for a daily walk may not be adequate enough for controlling your dog’s weight if the walks are not long enough and don’t use up enough energy. If you or your dog do not enjoy long walks or do not have the time, you can also go on shorter walks more frequently. Adding in more physical activity can be problematic if your dog suffers from arthritis, and this can affect his or her ability to exercise enough to keep their weight under control.
If changing your dog’s diet and physical activity has no real impact on weight, health issues may be an underlying factor. Your vet can do blood work to check for health problems, including low thyroid function or a hormone imbalance (such as Cushing’s Disease), which could turn out to be the culprit. Arthritis is another condition that can impact on your dog’s weight by reducing the ability to exercise properly.
Animed Direct are a leading provider of pet medicines and pet care products in the UK and Europe.