Happy, Healthy & On Track - Tips for Improving Your Dog's Health!

Did you know that around 56% of all domestic dogs are overweight? Although this number varies depending on country and survey, it's clear to see a growing trend in the number of overweight dogs from year to year.

Why is that? In some cases, our dogs are simply being fed too much food and too many scrumptious snacks. There are are also certain health conditions that can have an impact.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and continuous lockdowns also have a part to play, with 71% of vets stating that the pandemic has been affecting our pets' eating behaviours.

So what can be done about it? Read on to find lots of information about obesity and weight gain in dogs, as well as tips to help your podgy pooch slim down!

The first step in overcoming the problem of your dog being overweight or obese is to recognise that it is a problem at all! The best way to find this out is to consult your vet. However, you can use a few simple steps to make an initial assessment yourself at home.

  • How to work out if your dog is overweight

    Place your hands loosely around your dog's rib cage and move them slowly up and down. If you are easily able to feel your dog's ribs, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have to press hard to find the ribs, it is likely that your dog is overweight.

    Another way to figure out if your dog is carrying more weight than it should be is to look at its general body shape, particularly from above. If its waist is no longer clearly defined and the stomach or body are looking at all rounded, then your dog probably has a weight problem that needs to be addressed.

The right food for overweight dogs

What is the difference between diet and light food?
What is the difference between a diet dog food and light food?

A diet dog food is a dish that has been specially tailored to meet the nutritional needs of pets suffering from certain health conditions. For example, there are diet foods for dogs with diabetes or with kidney problems, and these should only be fed to your dog after consultation with your vet. Therefore, a diet dog food is not always a suitable choice for weight loss.

However, a light dog food is one that has a reduced calorie content. This should be your first port of call in ensuring your dog does not eat too much and can therefore lose some weight.

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Exercise is key in fighting obesity in dogs

Dog bounding through a field
Increase exercise slowly and steadily

The basic rule with exercise is not to overdo it - for you or for your dog. Losing weight is a gradual process that can take time.

As exercise needs to be a daily part of life, it is important that you and your dog both enjoy it and ease into it. A good first step is to start by extending the previous walk a little bit every day. Once this becomes habit, you can start to add in other exercises or meet up with other dog owners so that your pets can burn some energy through play.

For dogs that are overweight or obese, you should also pay extra special attention to their joint health. This could be in the form of taking nutritional supplements, or with movement aids such as ramps. You can also find orthopaedic dog beds that offer joint and spinal support.

How to keep your dog in great shape

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Look out for species-appropriate nutrition and make sure you choose the right food

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Work out your dog's daily food allowance and be sure to include treats in this calculation

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Take long walks several times a day

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Make games and dog sports a regular part of your dog's daily life

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Check to see if you can feel your dog's ribs easily, and keep an eye on their silhouette

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Weigh your dog often and visit the vet on a regular basis