Overweight Pets

1 in 3 dogs in the UK are overweight.
According to the PDSA 1 in 3 dogs in the UK alone are overweight.
This causes a variety of illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, cancers and more.
Being overweight seriously affects a dog’s quality of life.
Dogs are happy when they are active and it is harder to be active when carrying more weight.
The above however is not just limited to dogs but unfortunately also effects cats and other pets as well

It is our fault
Pets don’t feed themselves, we feed them and they don’t have a choice as to what they eat and are being fed.
We might think we are spoiling them by giving them all the nice things of life, but we aren’t doing them any favours
If they are overweight it is because in most cases:
1:  We feed them too much
2:  We feed them the wrong things (processed foods, table scraps etc)
3:  They are getting too little exercise
Or a combination of all the above.
I stated most cases as sometimes medical problems and or medication could play a part in weight gain, but can in most cases be controlled
It is up to us to take responsibility for this and to make sure that we fix it.

How to tell if your pet is overweight
It is quite easy to tell if your pet is overweight.
Gently stroke the side of their body; you should be able to feel each individual rib, with a small layer of padding.
If you cannot feel your pet’s ribs they are overweight and you need to do something about it.
There are no exceptions.

Easy Trick To Remember

Another way to tell if your pet is overweight is by looking at their body, using the images below as a reference.
I know not every body shape is the same but the general rule of thumb is if you your pet has a obvious waist when viewed from above and abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, then your pet is at a healthy PET weight.
When in addition to this your dog has a good muscle tome and you can see the last 1 or 2 ribs you’re pet is at a healthy FIT weight

The right type of food helps
Making sure that your pet takes in fewer calories than they use is the first piece of advice given when you have an overweight/ obese pet.
Even though this is true, it is not the whole truth.
Low quality food tends to be bulked out with grains and other fillers.
This can raise insulin levels, which increases the amount of stored body fat.
Even most ‘veterinary’ diets contain grain/ fillers.
The reason for this is because large pet food companies do not use the most up to date nutritional research and use fillers to make the production costs cheaper.
Watch out for this!
Make sure your pet gets a good nutritious quality diet.
For me that means a fully balanced species appropriate diet.

Supplements can help
Changing your pet’s diet to a healthier more species appropriate option would be the first step
Thinking of adding supplements to a pet’s diet can be counter-intuitive but sometimes pets just need that little bit of extra help to lose weight, and if your pet is not loosing weight fast enough on diet and exercise alone, supplements could be just what your pet needs.
There are some natural supplements that can help a pet lose weight, such as:
CLA and L-carnitine, which helps burn fat
Psyllium, which helps pets to feel fuller
Probiotics and Prebiotics, which aid digestion
I use a probiotic like Kefir, not necessarily for weight management but it also aids in detox, settling their digestive tract etc.
For more information about Kefir please read this page

Giving treats
When training a dog, treats can be an essential tool, especially when your dog is food orientated.
Giving too many treats is often  a reason for dogs being overweight/ obese
One report has shown that a single Bonio treat has the same equivalent calorific load as a Kit Kat does for humans.

I’m not saying you can’t give your dog treats, but you’ll just have to be more aware of what you treat them with and the amount you treat them.
Good options are small dehydrated training treats.
Most pet shops now carry a treat range that is completely natural and made from dehydrated meat, or you could make your own treats by using a dehydrator.

This takes me to the 2nd part.
If you are planning on doing a lot of training calculate the treats in with the total daily food allowance.
In other words, reduce the amount of food by the amount of treats you feed

Ignore feeding guidelines
Don’t totally ignore feeding guidelines, but remember that they are just that, guidelines.
Guidelines should be the starting point when you feed.
Each pet is different, does a different amount of exercise, has a different metabolic rate, so the amount you need to feed is different.
If your pet is not losing weight when feeding in accordance to the guide you will need to reduce the amount given.

For example When you start feeding raw the guideline is to feed at 2% of their body weight, 2 of my dogs are fed at roughly 1.5% of their body weight, 1 is fed at 2% of her body weight and another at roughly 2.5% of her body weight, yet all get the same amount of exercise.

Remember we might think we’re spoiling our pets by giving them the nice things in life but in reality we are doing the opposite.
Feeding a wholesome balanced species appropriate diet has shown to reverse the consequences of obesity in pets.
EG reduced the severity of diabetes and or clear it completely.
Due to less weight pets have shown less joint and respiratory problems
Normalise blood pressure