THE EXPERTS’ ADVICE: HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR DOG’S WEIGHT

With the help of our Nutritionist, Sara, and approved by Christian the Vet, we recently refreshed our Natural Health Support range. Still as delicious as ever, our Lean & Tasty (great for maintaining your dog’s weight!), Simply Gentle and Joints & Coat recipes are now even more nutritious and joined by our NEW Healthy Heart recipes.

Each of these recipes has been carefully formulated to support a specific health issue, so to better understand them, we sat down with Sara and Christian for a chat.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing their expert knowledge and advice on the causes and possible health issues of dog obesity and how best to support your dog in maintaining a healthy weight.

 

What does obesity in dogs mean?

Like humans, dogs have a daily calorie requirement which depends on many factors, including their age, breed, neuter status, sex and activity levels. Dog obesity occurs when dogs go over this daily calorie intake by eating too much, consuming foods that are high in calories and/or not using sufficient calories i.e., through a lack of exercise. Dogs are classified as being “overweight” when their weight exceeds 10% of their optimal weight, whilst a dog being “obese” means that their weight exceeds 20% of their optimal weight.

It’s estimated that around 51% of dogs are overweight or obese, with 74% of vets believing obesity levels have increased in recent years.[1] Being both overweight or obese carries a greater risk of developing certain health issues than those dogs of a healthy weight.

Complications of your dog’s weight

As well as this, obesity can lead to other complications such as a reduction in immunity, urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal disease. All in all, being overweight can cause a number of unpleasant, and potentially serious, health issues, impacting their welfare and leading to a reduced quality of life, and possibly shortening a dog’s lifespan.

[2]“Research suggests that obese and overweight dogs are:

– 3.9x more likely to be diagnosed with dermatological (skin) issues

– 3.7x more likely to be diagnosed with hormone imbalance disorders, for example, diabetes

– 2.4x more likely to be diagnosed with respiratory conditions, including a number of heart conditions

– 3.1x more likely to be diagnosed with orthopaedic conditions, for example, osteoarthritis”

Sara, Our Nutritionist

How do dogs become obese?

There are several ways that dogs can become overweight and/or obese, with the primary cause being overfeeding.

Other risk factors include breed, genetics, age, sex, neutering, environment and lack of exercise. You can read more from Sara on the causes and prevention of obesity here.

“Excessive amounts of treats are often to blame for obesity. As is failing to measure or weigh your dog’s food. A ‘handful of biscuits’, for example, can vary enormously in terms of how big your hands are and how you’re holding the food. Always ensure that you weigh food accurately on digital scales.”

Christian, the Vet

Healthy weight chart showing dog's body condition from underweight to obese

How can I spot a problem with my dog’s weight?

The easiest way to tell if your dog is overweight or obese is by weighing them regularly. Agree with your vet what ideally your dog’s weight should be and try to stick to it (remember, every dog is different).

Alongside this, frequently monitor their body condition for the most accurate visual cue of any potential problems and adjust feeding qualities accordingly to ensure your dog maintains an ideal body condition, starting by using the on-pack feeding guide as guidance.

Our body condition scoring chart below shows how different body conditions look. Irrespective of what type of body condition score chart you use, it’s always important to achieve an “ideal” body condition.

Signs of obesity

If you think your dog is overweight and/or obese, you’ll likely see these signs:

  • A spine and rib cage that are not visible or easily felt.
  • An abdomen that is fat, distended or sagging.
  • A pear-shaped waist or no waist when looking at them from above.

“You should be able to run your hands over your dog’s chest and feel their individual ribs without putting any pressure on them as you move your hand. Your dog should have a waist where the sides go in just behind the rib cage when viewed from above, and a ‘tucked up’ appearance when viewed from the side, meaning the tummy is higher up than the bottom of the chest. If in doubt, weigh them at the vets and ask for advice.”

Christian, the Vet

Butcher's Dog Food Lean & Tasty

What can I do to help my dog’s weight?

Like with any change to your dog’s health and lifestyle, weight loss should always be done while working closely with your vet. This is to make sure any changes in feeding and exercise are appropriate, and the rate of weight loss is healthy.

And as with most health issues, prevention is better than cure. Regular walks and playtimes, alongside moderate treats and a complete and balanced diet, fed at the right quantity, is ideal.

If you regularly provide food as a way to reward your dog, look into alternative ways of treating. This could be cuddles, playing with toys or treating with green, watery vegetables that are lower in calories, like cucumber, courgette or watermelon (with the seeds removed!).

 

 

“Make a note of how many treats you are giving your dog each day. If it seems excessive, cut it down. Encourage exercise but remember your dog needs to do a lot of exercise to burn off the calories, so the best approach to weight loss and maintenance is through regular exercise with a sensible balanced diet.”

Christian, the Vet

Lean-Tasty-Icon-Set_BLUE

Lean & Tasty Recipes

If your dog is overweight, or you want to act preventatively and support them in maintaining a healthy weight, a complete and balanced diet is the best place to start.

Our Lean & Tasty recipes have been specially created by Sara, our Nutritionist, and come recommended by Christian, the Vet. They’re 20% lower in fat than our other recipes, helping to reduce calorie intake. The added L-carnitine is an important amino acid involved in the conversion of fat to energy, to help maintain lean muscle, whilst the wholegrain rice is a source of slow release energy to help keep your dog feeling fuller for longer.

Find out more about Lean & Tasty here.

“Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie requirement.”

Sara, our Nutritionist

Developed by Nutritionists, Vet Recommended: Sara, our Nutritionist, and Christian, the Vet

Meet The Experts

Sara, our Nutritionist, has 13 years’ experience as a Pet Nutritionist and a degree in Animal Science. Not to mention, she’s a proud pet parent to Mae the Cocker Spaniel.

Christian has been a Vet for over 30 years and has worked alongside the RSPCA and Police. He’s, of course, a fellow dog lover; his four-legged friend is a Labrador named Willow.

 

 

References

[1] Please see source here.

[2] Please see source here.

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