For many, dogs are more than just pets – they’re members of the family. We love them, care for them, and god forbid anything were to happen to them.
Many don’t realise, however, that through this love and offer of constant treats, their dog’s health is brought into question.
In fact, close to 54% of dogs in the western world are technically obese. A shocking statistic, but one to be expected considering the amount of unhealthy treats and scraps we routinely present to our furry friends.
Kasper & Kitty is a service that provides bespoke, healthy and nutritious meals and treats for your dog – taking everything from the specific breed and size to their favourite flavours into account. Barry Rubery, MD of Kasper & Kitty, tells us exactly how you can be proactive with the health of your pet.
Food – How much is too much?
It’s exceedingly easy to assume that your dog’s weight is in the Goldilocks Zone. That is to say, just right. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many pet parents are unable to correctly identify whether their companion is overweight or not. This may be due to the rose-tinted glasses they wear whenever looking at their precious pet, or perhaps a general lack of understanding over what a healthy weight is supposed to look like for their particular breed.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with providing your pup with an extra treat for a good recall when out on a walk, or even the fatty scraps left over from your dinner after they’ve sat patiently for half an hour. It is, however, important not to allow their doe eyes or wagging tail to fool you into thinking that this potential over-feeding is good for their health. A treat should be just that: a treat – not routinely presented, but reserved for good behaviour and the odd special occasion.
Any pet food you purchase should include dietary guidelines specific to your pet’s age and activity level. This is a good place to start, although a label won’t be able to take your dog’s individual lifestyle, characteristics or genetics into account. Your veterinarian, however, will be able to tell you exactly how much your dog should be eating. Alternatively, a service like Kasper & Kitty can provide a bespoke meal plan for your pet, which even takes specific dietary needs or medical conditions into consideration.
Be mindful of allergens
No matter how much their hungry enthusiasm may point to the contrary; dogs certainly can’t eat everything. Some dogs, in fact, struggle more than others when it comes to eating certain things. It’s important to be aware of what foods you should rule out of your dog’s diet, and what you should feed them to ensure they’re getting all the essential nutrients, vitamins and healthy goodness they deserve. A veterinarian will, of course, be able to point you in the right direction.
There are certain artificial colours, preservatives and flavours that may be harmful to your dog. Other dogs may benefit from a grain or cereal free diet. There’s a whole range of reasons why your pet may struggle with any of the above, and a host of benefits to implementing a particular, allergen-free diet.
Grain-free food, such as salmon and rapeseed oil, is full of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which work wonders on the skin. It will also help to reduce gas and improve bowel movements, whilst also reducing bacteria build up in your dog’s mouth and providing them with energy that will burn over a longer, more sustained period of time. Cereal-free food, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for senior dogs as it can help to lower cholesterol and cure various stomach ailments.
Whilst too much food is definitely the leading contributor to weight gain; a lack of exercise certainly plays a big part too. Just like their diet, the amount of exercise a dog needs will vary based on their age, breed and any pre-existing medical conditions, but it’s still important to make sure they’re getting exercise daily. Ensuring your pet is getting the most out of their exercise sessions can be made easier with the utilization of certain tech.
There are a variety of FitBit equivalents you can purchase for your pet, in the form of a collar. These kinds of devices help to keep your pet’s fitness a priority, whilst also providing useful analytics which will keep both you, and your veterinarian, in the loop with the current physical health of your pup. Kasper & Kitty’s FitKolar, for example, can even be linked to your pet’s bespoke meal plan, and update the predetermined portions based on their exercise over the last month.
You can also download calorie counters and activity trackers for your dog. These can help further with your endeavour to keep track of your companion’s health; ultimately making it easier to provide them with an appropriate amount of food and treats, whilst staying on top of their daily exercise, eating and sleeping habits.
There are a multitude of other ways you can be proactive with the health of your pet. We’ve barely scratched the surface! Pet insurance is a must, for example. It’s also important to make sure they get yearly check-ups at the very least. You could even research ways to pet-proof your home and engage your furry friend mentally. Overall, however, a poor diet and lack of exercise will be the leading cause of declining health in your pet. It is, therefore, essential that you understand exactly what your faithful companion requires to ensure they stay by your side for years to come.