Just like any human, it is easy for a dog to put on unwanted pounds. Sadly, overweight dogs have shorter life-spans and lead less happy lives. They are also more susceptible to a number of medical conditions like diabetes, lung and heart problems, skin conditions and arthritis.
Keeping your dog slim and trim is therefore an important part of maintaining his overall health.
What to look out for
Because dogs vary so much in size and shape it can be difficult to determine if yours is overweight. When you pet him on his side you should be able to feel his ribs but they shouldn't be visible. When he extends his body (for example, if he jumps) the ribs should be visible. And when you look at your dog from above he should have a distinctive waist in front of his hips.
Some broader, more muscular breeds can hide excess weight fairly easily. Your vet will be able to make an accurate assessment of his weight and physical fitness, determining if he is overweight and for what reason. Why is he overweight?
Most dogs are overweight because of over-feeding and it's all too easy to understand why. They are frequently trained with food as a reward and we quickly learn just how happy a special treat will make them.
Talk to your vet about weight management nutrition
Your vet can recommend one of Hill's Prescription Diet weight management products. They are available also smaller "Mini" breeds, with a smaller, easier-to-chew kibble for smaller breed dogs.
- Specifically formulated to help your small breed dog lose weight safely and efficiently whilst still satisfying his hunger during the weight loss, Prescription Diet r/d Canine Mini is clinically proven to reduce body fat by up to 22% in just 2 months
Your vet is the best person to help you set a healthy feeding programme for an overweight dog but these tips should also give good results:
- Puppies should have three meals a day and adult dogs only two. Your dog can easily go two days or even longer without food and suffer no harm.
- If you fill your dog's bowl every time it is empty or are feeding him more than two daily meals then you ought to cut down. Use the feeding guides on packs of food for the correct portions.
- Your dog no doubt loves food from your table but this is not a great way to give him his daily calories. Table treating can also lead to excessive begging.
- Go easy on the treats. Most of them are formulated to be extra tasty and that means extra calories. Too many, and you'll struggle to maintain portion control.
- Dogs tend to know where the next treat is coming from. If necessary, ask your neighbours and family not to hand out treats.
- Make sure your dog has a couple of good walks each day, this will help keep his metabolism up and appetite down.
- Your dog may need special weight controlling food. Even if he prefers his old food, persevere. Remember, he can go several days without food. When he gets hungry, he will eventually get used to the new food. Always supply plenty of fresh water.
Your vet is an expert in pet nutrition and should be consulted before making any changes to your dog's diet. You can also ask at your next visit for a free weight check - this will also confirm if your dog is overweight and your vet would recommend a course of action to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy.