Obesity is a big problem for both dogs and humans; in today's society there's a real misconception about what a healthy shape is, and tubby dogs are increasingly viewed as normal.
As well as reducing a dog's general quality of life, obesity increases the chance of developing serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis - conditions that reduce life expectancy.
There are many things you can do to help you and your four-legged friend shed the pounds:
- There are many low-calorie foods and treats available - for two and four-legged slimmers - which can help put you both on the right track to lose weight.
- If you think your dog is overweight, book an appointment with your vet for a pet health check.
- Your vet will be able to set up realistic targets and offer you plenty of diet and fitness advice, as well as devise a suitable weight-loss programme, which might involve a combination of cutting down food, increasing exercise levels, or using a clinical diet food.
- If you're worried about your dog's weight, keep a close eye on what you feed him. Cut down on treats and if you want to reward him try to use other incentives such as a special toy.
- Is your dog particularly food motivated? If so, you can still use treats as a reward but remember to adjust his food portions at mealtimes.
- Give treats in moderation and choose healthier options like small pieces of lean meat.
- Weigh your dog's food to ensure it's the right portion size.
- Many people don't believe their dogs look overweight when they look at them, so how can you tell if your dog is a healthy weight? You have to use your eyes and hands, looking at your pet from above and from the side. You should be able to feel the rib cage and he should have a tucked-in waist. Run your fingers along the ribs; you should be able to easily feel them but they shouldn't be sticking out as such. There should be a visible waist from above. Dogs often store fat at the tail base, where the tail joins the body; run your hands over here and you shouldn't feel any fatty pads.
Did you know?
- The PDSA uses a body conditioning scoring system to assess if a pet is a healthy shape; visit www.pdsa.org.uk/obesity
- A good diet when a dog is young is essential - fat puppies are more likely to become fat adults due to the number of fat cells they produce during growth.