10 Ways to keep your dog in shape


It’s easy for dogs to put on weight, but you can keep yours looking trim with these top tips from Jackie Drakeford.

All dog owners know how important it is to look after their dogs’ figures.

Most vet surgeries have a helpful wall chart that illustrates how dogs should ideally appear, and usually there will be access to a set of scales in the waiting area, where you can take your dog to be weighed and so keep an eye on his body condition that way.
However, dog owners also know that most dogs can put on weight really easily, and often the owners don’t notice, or kid themselves that their dog is a chunky breed and ought to look like that!
But slim means healthy, and is especially important as dogs get older, because you don’t want them to develop joint, organ, or breathing problems because of obesity. However, that doesn’t mean you need to starve them! Here are some ways to maintain your dogs’ figures without feeling as if you are depriving them.

1. Use a smaller food bowl It’s so easy to fill a bowl right up, because leaving space at the top looks so mean! So, this is a simple way to make feeding the correct amount easy. If your dog is a big breed and needs a larger sized bowl to fit his jaws in, put his food on a shallow surface such as a plate instead. Then you won’t be so tempted to give him too much.

Overweight dogs may be less inclined to exercise, creating an escalating problem.

2. Exercise is very important, and dogs, even small ones, are natural athletes. If you allow them to get porky so they puff and waddle their way along, they may become less willing to go on walks, and so you inadvertently create an escalating problem. But if you tailor your outings to include gradients, add in a little training, which involves them running, and go to places that are safe to let them off-lead, they can have a better workout. Given the opportunity, dogs will cover a lot more ground than their owners do on the same walk. Take care if you like to take your dog jogging though or get him to follow a bicycle off-road. It’s so easy for humans to get ‘in the zone’ and not realise that their dog isn’t enjoying the exercise as much as he would if he was pottering and sniffing some of the time, and running about for short bursts. Human athletes call this interval training (apart from the sniffing!), but dogs just see it as fun.

Don’t let family or friends feed your dog titbits.

3. Some dogs get very hungry, and their correct feeding amount is simply not enough to satisfy them. You can bulk out their meals without making them fattening by adding lots of leafy greens, either lightly cooked or blitzed in a liquidiser so that they can access important trace elements and vitamins that are otherwise trapped in indigestible cellulose.

4. Don’t let friends or family sabotage your efforts!
So many people equate food with love, and get a buzz from feeding your dog titbits — and, of course, dogs aren’t going to object. Family politics can make avoiding this tricky at times. Explaining that your dog has an allergy, or a digestive issue that means he is only allowed to eat at mealtimes, may save the situation here. Be as firm as you would be if that were genuinely the case!

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To dogs, bins can be a source of food!

5. Always put food away where your dog can’t reach it, and see that the family does too. ‘Food’ to a dog includes the contents of pedal bins, dustbins, and sometimes even compost, so ensure that your dog can’t access any of these. It’s much safer for them too.

Read the rest of the feature in the July issue, available to read instantly on our digital edition HERE or purchase the print edition HERE


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