Written by Dr Kate Harmon
More than one-third of Australian dogs are obese.
Every day, vets are having the ‘fat talk’ with many owners to try and combat this common issue which can lead to a range of problems including osteoarthritis, cruciate ligament rupture, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, respiratory and kidney disease, cancer and ultimately poor quality of life and reduced life expectancy.
Not something that we wish upon our beloved best mate.
So how can you tell if your dog is overweight?
Have a feel along their ribs.
Can you feel them easily or do you have to go poking and prodding to find them under a thick layer of fat?
Does your dog have a waist or are they very straight down the sides due to excessive fat?
A dog with a healthy weight has a waist and ribs that are easily felt under a thin layer of skin.
If you are unsure what a healthy body shape for your dog is, please have a chat with your vet.
Many owners pose the question – how much should I be feeding my dog?
It depends on what kind of food you are feeding, how much daily activity your dog receives and how many added extras such as treats and bones they enjoy.
Firstly, use the feeding guide on your dog food as a starting point and measure the daily ration accurately using scales or a cup.
Weigh your dog regularly – taking them to your vet every three months when worming is due is a good routine.
Monitor fat coverage over ribs and check for that all-important waist.
The key to successful weight management is strict portion control, minimal low fat treats, no extra human food scraps, daily exercise and tailoring your dog’s daily food ration to their body condition.
For example, in winter, daily activity is usually less so reduce their ration to compensate for this.
Also deal with the guilt factor – many of us get bullied by our dogs to give them extra treats, so before you start handing out that fifth smacko for the day, try and look at your normal daily routine:
- Can you make changes so that your dog isn’t staring you down when you’re trying to eat your dinner?
- Smaller, more frequent meals may keep your dog more satisfied.
- Take some biscuits from their daily ration and use them as a treat instead.
- One raw bone equals one meal so reduce their daily ration to allow for this.
If you are struggling to keep your dog’s weight in check, please discuss this with your vet.
We can advise you on what to feed and how much, look for any underlying issues that could be contributing to weight gain and provide plenty of support for your dog’s weight loss journey.