A survey has estimated 42 per cent of dogs are overweight – and there are a range of simple lifestyle changes you can make to shed those excess doggy pounds.
The worrying numbers were revealed by pet nutrician experts www.tails.com, who estimate that obese dogs on average live a year less than pups of an optimum weight.
We can all be guilty of a little overindulging now and then, whether it’s an extra biscuit or an extra helping of dessert, but when those over indulgences lead to quite a bit of weight gain, we can put ourselves at risk of damaging our health.
Just as it is for humans, obesity in dogs is also a health risk – with associated problems including, but not restricted to, arthritis, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, respiratory issues, an increased risk of developing certain tumours, and a lower quality of life.
So, if you think your dog needs a little help to get back into shape, here’s what you need to do.
1. Get everybody on board
First of all, everyone in your house needs to be on board. It’s no good if only one of you is taking the diet seriously, whilst others continue to feed treats. Try creating a feeding chart so that when your dog has been fed their meals and daily treat, everyone in the house knows too. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
2. The 10 per cent rule
A good rule of thumb to remember is: treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. The occasional treat can be good for your dog when combined with training or if given for a nutritional benefit. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
3. Vary the type of exercise
If your dog is already fairly active, try changing their usual exercise routine and adding other exercises like swimming. Swimming is a great way for a dog to exercise without putting any excess stress or strain on their joints, although remember not all breeds are built to swim - the likes of Bulldogs, Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Corgis generally prefer to stay on dry land. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
4. Swap treats for attention
When treats become too much of a regular occurrence, they can contribute to weight gain and for many dogs, it’s actually the attention that they appreciate more than the treat itself. So when they turn those puppy dog eyes on you, swap the usual treat for an affectionate scratch, cuddle or play time session. Photo: Canva/Getty Images