It’s not only humans that need to watch their waistline during the festive season.
According to the recent PDSA PAW report, 81% of vets have seen an increase in levels of pet obesity in the UK in the past two years.
Studies have shown that obesity in dogs can often lead to a range of ailments including heart disease, mobility issues and ultimately leading to a lesser quality of life.
Head vet from dog food e-tailer, Tails.com, Sean McCormack, said: “Keeping your dog in tip top condition at a healthy weight for their breed is so important to allow them to live a long, healthy and happy life. With pet obesity on the rise and so much confusion around what to feed and how much, one of our key activities at tails.com is providing support for pet owners.
“We do exact portions, made easy. Calculating your dog’s calorie needs so you don’t have to. Not only that but we have a team of vets, vet nurses, qualified animal nutritionists and highly trained dog lovers on our award-winning customer experience team. It’s never too late to get your dog back in shape and tails.com is here to help.”
To help pet owners, Tail.com have revealed their top tips in preventing obesity:
Get everybody on board
First of all, everyone in your house needs to be on board. It’s no good if only one of you is taking the diet seriously, whilst others continue to feed treats. Try creating a feeding chart so that when your dog has been fed their meals and daily treat, everyone in the house knows too.
Swap out treats for attention
A good rule of thumb to remember is: treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. Too many treats can continue to weight gain for many dogs, it’s actually the attention that they appreciate more than the treat itself. So when they turn those puppy dog eyes on you, swap the usual treat for an affectionate scratch, cuddle or play time session.
Every healthy dog should be able to manage at least 20 minutes of walking, twice a day. Getting out and about for walks doesn’t just provide your dog with the physical exercise they need, it also provides them with mental stimulation. If you’re looking to get your dog into shape, begin by gradually increasing the length of their usual walk by an extra 5-10 minutes each week. If your dog is already fairly active, try changing their usual exercise routine and adding other exercises.
Change or review your dog’s diet
For some dogs, it’s simply the lack of exercise that contributes to their weight gain. For others, however, they may require a change in diet. This could mean looking at a low fat, high fibre diet to help your dog stay fuller for longer with fewer calories or simply tweaking the portion size of the food they usually get each day. If you’re prone to overfeeding, you may need to reassess your dog’s portion sizes. If you feed human foods to your pet occasionally, you should consider cutting this out too as this has a big impact on a dog’s weight – more so than you might expect.
What if he’s still hungry?
If your dog is used to eating bigger portions, it’s likely that extra bit of food will be missed when it’s reduced. It’s important not to rush into a weight loss regime as dogs don’t know they need to lose weight, so a drastic change could cause some disturbing behaviours like scavenging and begging. If you can make each change gradual, your dog is less likely to notice, and you can see what changes are having the best effect. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight then you should contact your vet.