What are the health risks if your pet is overweight?
There are a number of problems associated with being overweight. The obvious disadvantage is that it makes life, mobility and activity more difficult. Extra body weight also puts more stress on the joints and increases joint wear and pain in older pets with arthritis.
It has recently been discovered that the presence of too much fat in the body has several other negative effects. The fat takes up space that organs such as the heart and lungs, and the vascular and digestive systems could benefit from. Fat tissue also releases chemical substances that make other diseases, like arthritis, worse and the risk of diabetes higher.
Not sure if your pet is overweight?
Your vet is ideally placed to help. They will be able to tell you whether your dog is the right weight and if needed help you work out a plan.
You may also want to do this at home.
Use the SPECIFIC™ body condition scoring guide for dogs.
OK so your dog needs to lose a few pounds – now what?
The good news is that there are diets specifically designed to help your dog lose weight without going hungry.
A weight loss diet doesn’t mean you need feed them less of the same food - Weight loss diets are carefully designed to be low in fat and high in fibre, meaning your dog can still enjoy full portions, giving them a feeling of fullness, whilst losing weight.
These diets are also high in protein to maintain muscle mass which actually increases the weight loss by causing the weight loss to come from fat rather than lean body mass.
Steps to ideal bodyweight
- Weight check: Get your dog body condition checked and weighed
- Planning: Work with your vet to decide what is the target weight; to choose a weight control food and then calculate the daily feeding amount and an exercise programme.
- Weight reduction phase: Implement the feeding and exercise regime. It’s important that during this phase you measure out the food so, if you need to, you can easily and accurately adjust it.
Regularly weigh your dog. Top Tip: if you can do this then a simple way is to weigh yourself, then weigh yourself while holding your dog then subtract the two numbers.
Remember be careful not to spoil the good work with the wrong treats, especially table scraps, and make sure everyone knows what you are doing so they are not inadvertently feeding more.
Be patient – it’s not going to happen overnight but if you stick with it your dog will lose weight and it will all be worth it with a happier healthy dog
- Maintain weight: Once you have reached target weight you need to make sure they stay there – you may want to look at weight control diets that are lower in energy