Overweight dog? What to do?
With studies suggesting that around one-third of UK dogs are overweight, it’s clear that greater attention to canine diet is vital. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from all sorts of health problems due to excess pounds. Sore joints, fatigue, Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin disease and liver problems in dogs can all be caused or made worse by being overweight. No pet owner would want their dogs to end up with one or more of these unpleasant diseases: sadly, with the dog population getting fatter, a rise in these ailments is almost inevitable.
Life is no fun for an overweight dog
As well as the increased risk of disease, dogs also experience a reduced quality of life when they are obese. Walks become less fun; dogs may find it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to rest, due to an unwanted spare tyre and too much of the wrong sort of food can also cause digestive problems. Stomach aches, wind, flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea are also common and skin can become itchy or dry, which is uncomfortable and can lead to excessive scratching. The scratching, in turn, can lead to further skin issues.
Why do dogs become overweight?
Again, the answer to this question is very much the same as the reasons that humans become overweight: not only do they get given too much food to eat, they also get given the wrong sort of food to eat. Like humans, dogs are drawn to calorie-dense foods and will happily eat as much as you give them! Giving dogs human food, sharing snacks or providing high-calorie rewards for good behaviour can all mean that your dog ends up with far more calories than they actually need. Paradoxically, many overweight dogs are also malnourished, as their nutrition quality is poor, consisting of too many empty calories rather than good, solid nutrition.
What can I do if my dog is overweight?
Clearly, if your dog is overweight, the first thing to do is to establish why. Although in most cases canine obesity is simply down to diet, it’s worth getting your pet checked over by a vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues. If it’s clear that the main reason for the excess weight is too much food, placing your dog on a nutritious, low-calorie diet is the next step. Choosing a good grain-free food with healthy ingredients (always check out the ingredients before buying!) may the best way to help your dog lose weight. Alternatively, simply reducing the amount your dog is given to eat may be enough to encourage weight loss.
Treats for dogs on a diet
Although dogs absolutely do not need treats in order to be happy and healthy, many owners can’t resist treating their pet now and then. Treats can also be helpful in reinforcing good behaviour. A healthy choice for dogs on a diet is a wheat-free treat. Made from high-quality ingredients which haven’t been “bulked out” with wheat, wheat-free treats contain just a few premium ingredients such as meat, gravy and potatoes. These foods contain valuable nutrients, ensuring your dog ends up with a treat that actually does them good, rather than simply being empty calories. Highly palatable, wheat-free treats are also gentle on the stomach – a real advantage for older or less well dogs. The treats are also small ones! This means that one or two a day won’t add significantly to daily calorie intake, helping your dog to win the inch-loss war! If you want a tasty, nutrient dense snack that adds value to a dog’s diet, wheat-free treats can work really well.