Keeping your best friend trim....

We just wanted to touch on the subject of canine obesity; this is where we can cause them a lot of health issues by being too kind.

Canine obesity is in the most common nutritional disorder seen in dogs.  As with humans, it's caused by an imbalance of taking in more energy than giving out. This can give cause a persistent and potentially life threatening energy surplus. Vets see these problems all too often, with obese pets having greater risks from anaesthetic and surgical complications, heat or exercise intolerance, complications from cardio-respiratory disorders, hormone problems, skin disease, cancer, urogenital disorders, even early death. Canine obesity may even contribute to tracheal collapse and laryngeal paralysis too. We are not referring to dog’s that a little on the larger side; an obese dog will loose their weight line and sometimes even their necks.

Until fairly recently, fatty tissue was thought to be just a relatively lifeless energy store and insulator; but we now know it secretes hormones affecting appetite, inflammation, insulin sensitivity and bodily function, as well as influencing water balance and blood pressure leading to kidney disease and high blood pressure.

We understand that every dog is an individual and some of them put on weight much easier than others; with the owners also finding it harder to get them to drop 1 or 2kg.

Signs of canine obesity include owners struggling to see or feel their dog's ribs, spine or waistline; abdominal sagging; a bigger, rounder face; a reluctance to go for walks or lagging behind; excessive panting; and the dog appearing tired and lazy. Grossly overweight dogs may even need assistance getting up and down, in and out of vehicles, and often refuse to move or play games. We use the attached chart to gage the body shape & size of your dog.

If your dog is overweight then carefully start changing his feeding habits; increasing exercise (e.g. more or longer walks, or take up a canine activity such as agility or flyball); looking at the type of food and his intake; creating a feeding plan; and incorporating regular visits to your vet for weight loss advice and to have free weight checks and record your success.

Diets rich in protein and fibre but low in fat are typically recommended for weight loss, as it gives the dog the feeling of being full, but also provides them with more energy. Replacing traditional treats with carrot sticks is a great healthy way to start.

Divide your dog's daily amount into several meals and try not to feed them too late, as they won't burn many calories when sleeping.

Avoid feeding scraps from the table or any leftovers, and always check the daily recommended feeding guide on the packaging and weigh out the daily amount at the beginning of the day. You can then give 'treats' from this amount during the day, so you don't overfeed.

When the weight starts to come off your dog will become happier, have more energy and want to exercise more.

This article references a similar article on The Kennel Club’s website.