Is your dog overweight? In this blog you can read on how to tell if your dog is overweight, and what program’s to put in place to help them battle the bulge. Letting your dog become overweight can cause considerable health problems including: Shorter lifespan Heart disease Risk of arthritis Circulatory problems Pancreatic disorders Liver disease How do I know if my dog is overweight? The below body condition score chart shows the differences between a dog who is at their ideal weight, overweight and obese. Use the chart below to determine if your dog is at their ideal weight, overweight or obese. Weight Reduction Program Your vet can also make you a tailored plan to suit both you and your dog, with realistic weight loss goals. Is it important that the weight that’s lost happens gradually. If your dog loses weight too quickly it increases the likelihood of the weight going straight back on. A reasonable target would be to lose between 1 and 2% of the dogs body weight a week as long as you are strict. Dogs who don’t achieve its weight loss target is not a dog at fault, it is the owner who can’t resist a dog’s begging. You must be strict with your weight loss program. Treats should be reduced to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake. There are several other ways to reward your companion. You can get them new toys, grooming or regular exercise. This increase your dog’s mental stimulation and stops them thinking about food so much! Exercise You must be careful when bringing more exercise into your dog’s weight reduction plan. Heavy exercise too soon can cause strain on their muscles, joints, heart and respiratory system. Begin with leash walking for between 20 and 60 minutes five times a week. Yet be aware of heavy panting as this is a sign of fatigue and you must stop to rest. Swimming is great for the joints and is also fantastic exercise for overweight and obese dogs. When you and your dog are comfortable with this amount of exercise you can increase gradually, be careful to monitor your dog’s condition. Diet Plan Cutting calories is usually the easiest weight reduction. You could cut down the quantity of food you are feeding your dog by 20 to 40%. Check every 3 to 4 weeks to decide if further reductions are necessary. Another option is to switch to special weight reduction foods such as Hills Prescription Diet R/D Purina Veterinary Diet OM Royal Canin Obesity Management All the above are specifically designed for weight reduction in dogs. Using reduced calorie foods generally allows you to feed your dog the usual amount of food. These foods also contain supplements for the important nutrients – fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that your dog will need to stay healthy. General feeding rules while on a weight reduction diet are; Feed your dog apart from any other pets so there is no temptation for them to steal extra food Use the rule – little and often – e.g. between 2 and 4 smaller meals a day Feed them before you make a meal for yourself – this should decrease begging when you are eating your meal If you can’t resist giving your dog treats, change to low fat nibbles: Cooked green beans Carrots Air-popped non salted or buttered popcorn Broccoli Low calorie dog treats You must make sure these treats are not more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake! Recording Results Monitoring your dog’s progress is essential and also easy. Keep a log of your dog’s food intake, but ensure you are honest. Update a graph of their weight every week, take photos and visit your vet every 2 to 4 weeks. Doing these things will help determine how your dog is progressing. Finally, keeping the weight off your dog is as important. Make sure your dog still exercises to maintain a healthy weight. Continue to weigh your dog as you increase their food content to ensure they do not gain back the weight they lost. Don’t give them free choice feeding by always leaving food in their bowl. When your targets are reached you should congratulate your dog but also yourself. There are specifically formulated foods to help you keep your dog’s weight down, for example Royal Canin Weight Control and Hill Prescription W/D food. Visit Viovet and browse a range of diet foods that maybe suitable for your pet, they stock vet recommend brands too!