What should I do about my overweight dog?
Just like any human, it is easy for a dog to put on unwanted pounds. Sadly, overweight dogs have shorter life-spans and lead less happy lives. They are also more susceptible to a number of medical conditions like diabetes, lung and heart problems, skin conditions and arthritis.
Keeping your dog slim and trim is therefore an important part of maintaining overall health.
What to look out for
Because dogs vary so much in size and shape it can be difficult to determine if yours is overweight. When you pet them on the side you should be able to feel the ribs but they shouldn't be visible. When extending their body e.g. when jumping, the ribs should be visible and when you look at your dog from above they should have a distinctive waist in front of the hips.
Some broader, more muscular breeds can hide excess weight fairly easily. Your vet will be able to make an accurate assessment of weight and physical fitness, determining if they are overweight and for what reason. Why is my dog overweight?
Most dogs are overweight because of overfeeding and it's all too easy to understand why. They are frequently trained with food as a reward and we quickly learn just how happy a special treat will make them.
Talk to your vet about weight management nutrition
Your vet can recommend one of Hill's Prescription Diet weight management products.
Your vet is the best person to help you set a healthy feeding programme for an overweight dog but these tips should also give good results:
- Puppies should have three meals a day and adult dogs only two.
- If you fill your dog's bowl every time it is empty or are feeding more than two daily meals then you should cut down. Use the feeding guides on pack for the correct portions.
- Your dog no doubt loves food from your table but this is not a great way to give their daily calories. Table treating can also lead to excessive begging.
- Go easy on the treats. Most of them are formulated to be extra tasty and that means extra calories. Too many, and you'll struggle to maintain portion control.
- Dogs tend to know where the next treat is coming from. If necessary, ask your neighbours and family not to hand out treats.
- Make sure your dog has a couple of good walks each day, this will help keep the metabolism up and appetite down.
- Your dog may need special weight controlling food. Even if the old food is prefered, persevere. Your dog will get used to the new food. Always supply plenty of fresh water.
Your vet is an expert in pet nutrition and should be consulted before making any changes to your dog's diet. You can also ask at your next visit for a free weight check - this will also confirm if your dog is overweight and your vet would recommend a course of action to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy.