Pet obesity campaigns and warnings have made themselves clear this year, and owners are deciding that it might be time to include their furry companions in their New Year’s health kick. With advice from James Wellbeloved, we would like to ensure you have all the guidance needed to stick to your doggie resolutions.
Is my dog overweight?
Before making any changes to your dog’s diet and exercise routine, you need to properly determine if your dog is the ideal weight for their breed and gender. The fastest and most accurate way to do this would be to see a vet. They can tell you whether they fall inside or out of their ideal range.
Less than 1 in 10 perform the recommended monthly weight check, while 30% of owners admit to never weighing their pet.
It is possible to get a good sense of your dog’s weight yourself. You can weigh them at home on a set of scales they can get onto safely and comfortably. A dog’s ideal weight is very individual, you can check the James Wellbeloved dog breed weight chart to get an idea of what your dog’s ideal weight should be.
The best way to check the weight of dogs of all ages, is to do a physical check yourself. This should be done on a regular basis as well as general check-ups with your vet to ensure they are healthy:
- Stand next to, or over, your dog so that you can clearly see their body shape from above. A dog in the ideal weight range will have a clear waist line just before their rear legs and an obvious width difference between their chest and abdomen. From the side, you should also be able to the see the tummy is tucked a bit higher towards the waist (as opposed to being at the same level as the chest).
- An overweight dog, from above, will lack any obvious definition around the waist. From the side, your dog’s tummy will be in line with, or hang lower than, the chest.
- For short coats, an overweight dog will show no signs of any definition around the ribs.
- For dogs with longer coats, you will need to feel their ribs to get a sense of their weight. If you struggle to feel their ribs, they are likely overweight.
How can I help my dog loose weight?
If you have confirmed with your vet your dog is overweight and have discussed a change in diet, then a strict diet plan should be put in place as well as changes to your usual exercise routine. You will need to make sure any other house members are fully aware of what will be required and that everyone sticks to the diet plan.
Most weight loss plans include; feeding your dog a light dog food diet that includes fewer calories but more fibre and protein, following the recommended daily amounts on the packaging, and cutting out treats or extra food until they have reached their ideal weight.
Every dog needs needs a regular amount of exercise to burn off excess calories, turn protein into muscle, keep their minds active, and to keep their hearts strong. They require at least two walks per day, 30 minutes or more, with some breeds requiring more exercise than others. scheduling more frequent or longer walks will help them keep the weight off and will benefit their sleep and overall wellbeing.
Unfortunately, up to 45% of dogs only get up to 30 minutes of exercise each day and 1% are never walked at all.
Regular play is also essential, not only will this keep your dog fit but playing with them will be mentally stimulating. Play could include hiding favourite toys for them to find, creating little puzzles, playing fetch or games of hide-and-seek. It’s important to find the type of exercise that is best suited to you and your dog so that it is enjoyable as well as having a positive effect on your dog’s health!
You can find out more about the James Wellbeloved weight loss advice here