'Tis the season to ensure your dog has a healthy diet


‘Tis the season to ensure your dog has a healthy diet

Christmas dog

Traditionally Christmas is a time for feasting and it's down to our willpower how much we indulge and stray from a healthy diet. But our pets have no say in what they're given to eat at any time of year. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance and pet health advisors, vetfone®, suggest some ways to keep your dog's diet on the nutritional straight and narrow.

Dogs don't need the variety we do if you're giving them a complete pet food. It's also important to be aware that high fat foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs, while ‘human' foods such as onions, grapes, raisins and leeks are toxic to them.

Kibble-style foods can aid dental health in dogs, preventing tartar build-up. While it can look bland, kibble is tasty to dogs. You can release the flavours and aromas more by adding a little warm water. Some dogs prefer wet food for its stronger taste and smell but it can't be left out too long as it goes off. You may want to give your dog a mixture of dry and wet but take care not to overfeed. If you do change anything in your dog's diet, try to introduce it gradually as a sudden change could lead to stomach upsets.

If you want to check whether your dog is overweight, you can take it to the vet to be weighed, usually free of charge. Your vet can also give your dog a body condition score from 1 to 5. Your dog's weight should fall within the ideal weight range for its sex and breed. A score of 1 would be given to a very thin dog, while a score of 5 means a dog is obese. It's best to aim for a score of 3, which is the ideal. So avoid giving them those extra Christmas titbits. You may feel like it's a treat, but you're being kinder by not giving it to them.

So you've done your best to keep your dog trim and healthy, but what if they get into a scrape or aren't feeling 100 per cent? Tesco Bank Pet Insurance offers three levels of cover, so visit tescobank.com/pet to find out about which product is right for you and your dog. And as a standard benefit with every Tesco Bank Pet Insurance policy, you get 24/7 telephone access to vetfone® and their team of nurses qualified with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

vetfone® is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

We love our dogs and they're family members, but feeding them ‘human' food is not appropriate. Pets metabolise food differently to us and have different nutritional requirements and therefore ‘complete' dog and cat foods should provide the right balance of nutrients your pet needs. There is no need to feed table scraps or snacks such as crisps. These are potentially harmful and unsuitable.

When a dog is an ideal weight, you should be able to feel the ribs quite easily, but not see them. You should also be able to see a waist and the abdomen should be tucked – not sagging. It is a good idea to have a look and feel of your dog and weigh them at your vets. You should be able to walk in and weigh your pet any time free of charge. Many pet owners do not realise their pet is overweight.

Adult dogs should generally be fed once or twice daily. Puppies, elderly dogs or dogs recovering from illness may well need several smaller meals each day. Treats may be given occasionally – especially if you use them for obedience training purposes, but be careful not to overdo them. You may also use low fat treats, such as a piece of raw carrot, if you prefer.

For more information about caring for your dog, please consult your veterinary surgeon.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.
Terms and conditions: Pets must be at least eight weeks old when cover starts. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered and certain breeds of cats and dogs are also not covered. Full policy details are online at tescobank.com.
Tesco Bank is a trading name of Tesco Personal Finance plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC173199. Registered Office: Interpoint Building, 22 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.