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Dog Obesity: 5 Common Mistakes You're Making

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Canine obesity is a huge problem these days. According to a study by the , nearly half of all pets in the UK are classed as obese. When you head down to your local dog park you will probably come across quite a few dogs that are seriously overweight.

Many owners are living in denial, refusing to accept that their dog is overweight. Lots of people don’t even recognise that their dog is overweight in the first place. ‘Many people with overweight or obese companions do not recognize that this is the case.’ ( , Dilemmas In Animal Welfare). In a study by the University of Nottingham, ‘40% of owners with an overweight dog according to a veterinarian described the dog as normal.’

Dog owners want to spoil and treat their dogs, and they think the best way to do this is to give them lots of food. They don’t realise that overfeeding can cause serious health issues and reduce their dog’s lifespan. Being obese can take up to two years off a dog’s life.

How to check if your dog is overweight

In order to keep an eye on your dog’s weight, you need to know how to do a visual check. You should be able to feel but not see your dog’s ribs and they should have a clear waist.

The correct body weight will depend on your dog’s age, breed, and size. Generally, dogs that are over 20% above their normal body weight are classed as obese. However, the best way to find out if your dog is the correct weight is to go for a checkup at the vet. Your vet should be able to determine whether they are at the right weight. Once you know what weight they are supposed to be you should weigh them regularly to keep an eye on how they are doing. Owners see their dogs every single day and therefore they sometimes don’t notice weight changes, that’s why it’s best to go by the scales. Keep a record of your dog’s weight so you can monitor any big fluctuations.

Health risks

Being overweight can cause all sorts of health issues for dogs. They can develop diabetes, heart disease, increased blood pressure, have an increased risk of cancer and damage their joints. Obese dogs will often have great difficulty breathing, which is extremely debilitating. They may also be more likely to suffer heat intolerance and have very poor stamina. These are just a few of the many health issues that are caused by obesity.

According to the RSPCA, obesity ‘is increasingly considered a significant animal welfare issue, such that overfeeding can be characterised as being as cruel as underfeeding.’ Dogs that are seriously overweight can get extremely uncomfortable. Being overweight can cause suffering and pain. Owners think they are being kind by overfeeding their dogs when in reality they are being cruel. Don’t let your dog suffer, get their weight problem sorted before it’s too late.

Common causes of weight gain

There are lots of reasons as to why dogs put on weight, and usually, it’s a combination of things. Here are some common causes of weight gain in dogs:

Portion control

Not giving your dog the correct amount of food. Lots of owners ignore portion advice on the labels of dog food brands and simply guess how much food their dog should have. This leads to a lack of control over their diet and overfeeding, resulting in weight gain.

Lack of exercise

An obvious one but something many owners fail to give their dogs. If your dog is not doing enough exercise they will put on weight. Make sure they are getting the right amount of exercise for their breed, age and size.

Secret feeders

Do you have a secret feeder in your family? A secret feeder is someone that gives dogs treats on a regular basis without the rest of the family knowing. If your dog is on a special diet make sure everyone in the family knows the rules and follows them.

Health issues

If your dog suddenly puts on weight and you can’t seem to figure out why then take them to the vet. Before embarking on any strict diets you need to check to see whether their weight gain is due to a health issue.

Poor quality dog food

Sometimes the food you are feeding can contribute to your dog’s weight gain. Some cheaper pet food brands use lots of filler ingredients rather than high quality, healthy stuff. Have a look at the ingredients on your dog’s food to see exactly what they are eating. If their food has a large number of cereals then your dog will probably struggle to lose weight. Instead, go for dog food with a decent amount of quality protein. If your dog keeps putting on weight the best place to start is by reviewing their diet.

Leftovers

Many owners make the mistake of giving their dog all their leftovers. Dogs are not designed to eat some human foods and as well as giving them an upset tummy it can make them put on weight very quickly. Avoid giving your dog too many leftovers on top of their daily meals.

Treats

We all adore our dogs and love nothing more than to give them nice tasty treats. However, treats should be included in your dog’s daily food allowance, not as an added extra. You also need to look at the type of treats you are giving them. For example, many dog owners use cheese, which is very appealing to dogs but it must be given in moderation as it is high in fat.

Forms of exercise

You don’t have to rely on dog walks to provide exercise for your dog. There are plenty of other ways to keep them fit and active. Here are some of the main forms of exercise available for your dog:

  • Going on long dog walks
  • Dog sports such as Agility and Flyball
  • Playing with your dog or allowing them to play with other dogs
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Playing with their toys
  • Going running with your dog

At Time for Paws, we have a great selection of .

Has your dog put on a lot of weight and you just can’t figure out why? If you look closer at their lifestyle you will find the answers. The chances are you are probably feeding them too much without even realising it. Obesity can significantly reduce your dog’s lifespan, sometimes by up to two years. It also leaves your dog feeling very uncomfortable and cause a wide range of different health issues. If your dog is putting on weight you need to do something about it before it causes serious risks to their health. Here are 7 common mistakes that lead to canine obesity.

1. Overfeeding

The first and most obvious answer is that you are generally feeding your dog too much. Don’t just think about their daily meals, consider all the food and treats you are giving them. That includes leftovers, chews and treats. These should all be factored into your dog’s daily food allowance.

2. Portion control

One of the main causes of canine obesity is that owners aren’t feeding their dogs the correct amount. Have a look at the instructions on their Dog Food and make sure you are feeding them the guideline daily amount. Don’t just guess by giving them one or two handfuls, take the time to measure out their food properly.

3. Not enough exercise

If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise then they will put on weight very quickly. Provide your dog with the right amount of daily exercise for their age, breed and size. Activities that can help your dog to lose weight include things like agility, cani X and flyball. Playing with your dog and letting them run freely in your garden can also help to keep them at a health weight.

4. Too much leftover human food

Many owners make the mistake of giving their dog far too much human leftovers. Many humans foods that people regularly feed their dogs are not suitable for them. For example, gravy has a very high salt content which is bad for dogs. Keep an eye on how much leftover human food you are giving them and make sure it is only healthy foods.

5. Too many

We all love our dogs and one of the ways we show our affection is by giving them lots of tasty Dog Treats. Treats should be included in your dog’s daily food allowance. It’s so easy to give them too many Treats because we want to spoil our dogs. If your dog is piling on the pounds then try and buy them some nutritious, healthy treats and give them out sparingly.

A Complete Guide To Keeping Your Dog Fit And Healthy

Want to make sure your dog stays fit and healthy? There are a number of things you need to do for your dog if you want them to remain healthy. It’s helpful to keep an eye on your dog’s health and weight.

There are a few different ways you can do this such as regular vet visits and keeping an eye out for any issues. Dogs also need a substantial amount of exercise in order to stay at an optimum weight. There are a number of different ways to keep your dog active. Read on to discover our complete guide to keeping your dog fit and healthy.

Helping overweight dogs.

Like humans, dogs can rapidly put on a couple of pounds of unwanted weight, especially as they age. As a matter of fact 25% of all dogs in the United Kingdom are overweight. The surprising things being that most dog owners are unaware of this until they have to take their dog into the vets. Overweight dogs are more prone to develop diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, arthritis and potentially problems with behaviour too. Therefore making sure your dog is fit and healthy is vital.

The trouble is that it isn't always easy to tell if your dog is getting heavier, especially when it is happening very gradually. Your vet will always be able to advise you about these issues. As a rule of thumb if your dog's ribs are hard to feel and their waste isn't visible from above, then your dog is probably overweight. In order to lower your dogs fat percentage you will have to ensure they are consuming less calories than normal and that they are exercising more.

In order to reduce the number of calories your dog is consuming, then it is a good idea to reduce the size of their meals by around 10% for 2 to 3 weeks. It is also a good idea to remember that the suggested servings displayed on the packet of Dog Food, is simply a guide and the amount of food needed various between dogs.

It is important to remember that you should never reduce food intake by more than 15% as your pet might not be getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals. Furthermore you could cause them to lose muscle mass, which will make exercise more difficult for them and could slow their metabolism down.

Moreover there are many diet of light formulas on the market. These products are less concentrated than traditional formulas, with less fat content. This means that you don't usually need to actually reduce the quantity of food you supply. This also means your dog will be getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals too. Once your dog has reached their ideal weight, it is possible to revert back to a normal maintenance formula. However it is perfectly safe to continue feeding a light formula for extended periods if they are less active.

An important thing to remember and one which often gets forgotten, it that feeding food scraps and Dog Treats can lead to obesity. It is probably best to cut these treats out before you reduce food quantities.An easy way to help your dog lose weight is to increase the amount of time that they exercise. Simply adding 15 minutes to your regular walk can be extremely advantageous.

Here is a great little list of things you should do to help your pooch loose those extra pounds:

Walks

Obviously one of the best things you can do to keep your dog fit is to take them on regular walks. Make sure you are walking them for the correct amount of time based on their breed, age and size. Most dogs need at least one long walk a day.

Some of the more energetic breeds needs at least two long walks a day. Walks are crucial for dogs so that they can stretch their legs, burn off some energy and keep their mind active. If your dog is getting a bit overweight try and increase the time you walk them for on a daily basis.

Playing with toys

Playing with Dog Toys is another fantastic way of keeping your dog active. They can get rid of quite a lot of energy simply by messing around with their favourite toy. Playing tug of war and retrieval games with your dog is a good way to tire them out. If your dog loves to fetch a ball you can play this at home in your garden, around your house or out on walks.

Playing with other dogs

If your dog enjoys playing with other dogs then this is a fantastic way of keeping them agile and active. After just five or ten minute of playtime with another dog can leave your dog feeling absolutely shattered.

Try and find a ‘play buddy’ that your dog enjoys playing with and meeting up with them and their owner on a regular basis. Both your dogs will benefit from the high intensity exercise. You could also consider getting a second dog that your dog will enjoy playing with.

Swimming

If your dog has joint problems or can’t cope with high intensity exercise then swimming is the perfect activity. Swimming is a low impact activity that is excellent for keeping fit. Canine hydrotherapy is extremely popular at the moment because it has so many benefits. It can help with things such as weight loss, injury rehabilitation, circulation, muscle strength and improving mobility. Take your dog down to your local canine hydrotherapy centre or if they are a confident swimmer simply take them to a dog friendly lake or beach where they can swim in the sea.

Dog sports

One of the best ways to keep your dog active is to get them involved with a dog sport. These activities suit some dog breeds more than others. Find a sport that your dog enjoys and take them to classes on a regular basis.

Some of the most popular canine sports include Agility, Flyball and cani X. If you have some spare time you could consider volunteering for a local search and rescue team. You will have to give up a lot of time to train your dog but it’s a great activity for both you and your dog.

Time in the garden

If you have an enclosed garden then letting your dog play and run around outside will help to keep them active. Let your dog out in the garden at regular intervals throughout the day. You can also go outside and play games with them such as hide and seek, fetch, tug of war and recall games.

Weigh your dog

Weigh your dog on a regular basis so that you can keep an eye on their weight. Sometimes it can be difficult to notice weight changes just by looking at your dog. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs but not see them.

Check to see if their stomach is tucked up behind their ribcage. If your dog is a around about the right weight they should have an hourglass figure. Click here for more details

Regular vet checks

One way of keeping an eye on your dog’s health is to take them to the vet for regular check ups. The vet will give them a general health check, keep a record of their weight and let you know if there are any issues.

Take your dog to the vet as soon as an issue occurs

It is cruel to leave your dog to suffer for longer than necessary if they are ill or have an injury. Don’t delay taking your dog to the vet when they have a problem. Noticing when there is something wrong with your dog and getting them the treatment they need will help them to stay healthy.

Vaccinations

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date to protect them from illness and disease. You should also get give your dog a flea treatment and worming tablets on a regular basis to keep them parasite free.

A good diet

A good diet is also an essential part of keeping your dog healthy. Choose a high quality, complete dog food that will provide your dog with all the nutrients they require. Click here to see our complete dog food buying guide. It’s crucial that you feed your dog the correct amount and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Treats

We all love to treat our dogs. It sometimes almost impossible to resist their adorable puppy dog eyes. However, no matter how much you want to, you need to make sure you don’t feed your dog too many Treats. Some dog treats can be very high in fat and carbohydrates, if possible get some healthy treats for your dog to enjoy. Keep an eye on how many members of the family are giving your dog treats as you could be giving them too much without realising it.

Give your dog regular health checks

It’s a good idea to check your dog on a regular basis. Feel their entire body for any lumps and bumps. Check their eyes are clear and healthy, their ears are clean and free from infection and their teeth are clean and and not causing any discomfort.

A food diary may be the answer to overweight dogs

If your dog is overweight, completing a food diary could be the answer. Some dogs are picky eaters and some are greedy, although the culprit may be you, the owner. Too many treats can be harmful especially if you have started the habit of feeding your dog leftover food from your meals.

A large or working dog will need a sack of food with large tins of meat, where as a smaller breed will require less. Pet food has changed for the better in the last few years with more and more pet food containing the essential vitamins required, in their ingredients. Online pet stores can give advice on the variety of dog food available for all breeds.

Write in your Dogs Food diary the amount or weight of food given on a daily basis. If your dog reacts to the difference in the amounts you are feeding them, add a spoonful of plain yoghurt which contains enzymes to aid digestion. It is essential a dog has a food routine.

Note: Small dogs tend to like their protein and biscuits in a morning, eating the meat first and then chomping on the biscuits at their leisure thoughout the day.

Stop Your Dog Getting Fat This Winter

As winter arrives, the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, we spend more time indoors snuggled up in blankets or by the fire eating roast dinners. Often dog owners just can’t resist giving their dogs the leftovers. This is usually because we don’t want to waste food or due to our dogs giving us puppy dog eyes.

These winter months become very busy, and we may forget that our dogs still need regular exercise on a daily basis. So what do you do to stop your dog getting fat this Winter? Their meal sizes shouldn’t change like ours do! We may be able to handle putting on a couple of pounds, but your dog’s weight is very important to their health and can cause a lot of damage later on in life. Keep your dog healthy, exercise and feed your dog with high quality food and don't forget to feed the right amount for the dog’s size, age and breed.

Exercising your dog

Keeping your dog on the go may not be appealing to you in the freezing cold, but your dog needs the exercise. If you are struggling with the thought of a long walk with your dog, consider taking a trip to the park for a game of fetch. This will keep your dog’s heart rate going, while you stand there with many layers on!

Indoor agility is also a good way to keep warm and exercise your dog in the winter months, keeping the pounds off your dog and maintaining a healthy weight.

Another great idea is a running machine if you are an elderly person or disabled and unable to get outside in the winter conditions (snow,ice,rain) then owning a running machine may benefit your dog. You can get special, but make sure you use them safely and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Watching your dog’s diet

It’s important their portions stay the same and that they are not spoilt by. If you must, you can treat your dog with plain chicken or turkey and a few cooked vegetables (if these foods do not upset their tummy), keeping the portions as little as possible and avoiding any gravy or sauces high in salt.

If your dog likes to beg or scavenge around food a good way to distract them when you’re eating your roast dinners is giving them a filled with peanut butter, or a chew/bone which should keep them busy and away from your food.

If you are unable to keep your dog active around these months, reducing their calorie intake may be a good idea. Without physical exercise, your dog won’t be burning off the calories needed to stop your dog getting fat. However, it’s always important to check this with your vet before changing your dog’s diet.

If you are an active person and own a working dog, you will find the cold doesn’t bother them at all. They will probably be full of energy and ready to work. Working dogs burn more calories out on hunts all day, so making sure exercise is still a big part of their life in the winter is vital.

Dogs have many different nutritional needs in different stages of their life. To make sure your dog is on the right amount of food and the right diet, visit your vet for some advice.

Portion size matters.

Purina did a test on Labrador retrievers from birth to death. Group 1 were fed as much as they liked and group 2 were fed 25% less. They found the Labradors with 25% less food were delayed by around 2 years before developing chronic diseases like arthritis than group 1 who ate as much as they liked. This study shows that giving your dog the right amount of food doesn’t just maintain a healthy weight but affects and reduces illness and diseases later on in life.

It’s easy to give in to those big puppy eyes, but if you want to keep your best friend fit and healthy don't go down that rocky road of over indulgence this Christmas.

Overweight Dog: Health & Fitness Plan

An overweight dog is a relatively common sight these days. Too many dogs weigh far too much for their age, size and breed, which can have a terrible impact on their health and quality of life. Although feeding Fido all his favourite treats might seem like kindness, feeding your dog too much is actually cruel. It can lead to respiratory issues, heart conditions and joint pain, as well as generally making them feel uncomfortable and short of breath.

However, realising your dog is overweight, and deciding to take action is the first important step. A lot of owners can’t actually see that their dog is far too heavy. It’s often hard to pick up on changes in weight when you see your dog every day. In a study by the University of Nottingham, ‘40% of owners with an overweight dog according to a veterinarian described the dog as normal.’

The best person to judge whether or not your dog is a healthy weight is your vet. If they claim your dog is under or overweight and you strongly disagree, you might want to get the opinion of another vet. There’s rough guidelines for how much a bitch or dog of each breed type should weight, but even dogs within the same breed can vary significantly in size.

If your dog does genuinely put on a lot of weight very rapidly, before you send them to a fitness boot camp for dogs, you might want to rule out any health problems. Dogs can put on weight due to a number of health issues, so check with your vet first to see if there may be any underlying conditions.

So, are you ready to transform Fido into a super healthy pooch? We’ve got some top tips, including diet and fitness suggestions to try and get your dog’s weight back into the healthy zone.

How to check your dog’s weight

It’s obviously a good idea to weigh your dog regularly, that way you can easily pick up on any big changes in weight. You can also tell whether your dog is overweight by looking at them, and doing your own checks. You should be able to feel but not see your dog’s ribs. Plus, when you look at them, they should have a clear waste and no excess fat around the abdomen. from Purina that helps you identify your dog’s body condition.

Exercise

If your dog is overweight, they are going to have to step up their levels of exercise. It’s important to be aware that for obese dogs, it’s not always possible (and it can be dangerous) to launch them into an extreme fitness routine. If your dog can’t manage much exercise due to their weight, you will have to gradually increase the amount of exercise they do and be patient.

Consult with your vet about how much to exercise your dog, as this will vary a lot depending on their age, weight, breed and lifestyle. However, if your dog is ready to increase their exercise levels, here’s some ways you can do it.

Longer walks

Slowly increase your dog’s walks by a few minutes each day, and build up to doing much longer walks. A twenty minute stroll around your local dog park simply won’t be enough.

Dog sports

Try taking your dog to a dog sport each week, such as flyball or agility. Both of these sports are excellent for helping your dog to shift those pesky pounds.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a wonderful form of exercise for your pooch. It’s low impact, which means it’s kind and gentle on your dog’s joints, which is particularly handy for overweight dogs.

Play

Play with your dog throughout the day to keep them active and moving about. If they are friendly with other dogs, try and meet up with some buddies once a week so that they can have a play. Dogs can burn a lot of calories when they play with each other, and it’s great for their social skills too.

Diet

If your dog is rapidly putting on weight, then you will need to review their diet. Never change their food right away, instead, introduce a new food slowly. Often owners claim they don’t feed their dog that much, but then they forget all the sneaky snacks, and can be unaware how many treats other family members are giving their dog. Here’s some tips on putting together a new diet plan for your overweight pooch:

Switch to a better quality, weight management dog food

A lot of dog foods are packed with filler ingredients, which are used to bulk out the food. Often these ingredients, such as cereals and grains, can cause your dog to put on weight easily. Look for dog food brands with a high percentage of protein (between 20 and 60%) and avoid brands that contain a high amount of cereals. Many dog food brands offer specialist weight loss dog food, which is low in fat and made specifically for pooches who need to shed the pounds.

Make sure you are feeding your dog the correct amount

Surprisingly, a lot of dog owners don’t measure out dog food, they just estimate how much they think their dog needs. By doing it this way, you could easily get things wrong. The best thing to do is to read the manufacturer’s guidelines and measure out your dog’s food properly. If you do this and your dog is putting on weight, you might want to reduce how much you give them every so slightly. If you aren’t sure, speak to your vet.

Include treats and snacks in their daily allowance

There’s no point sticking to giving your dog a set amount of dog food each day, but then giving them as many treats as you like. Your dog’s treats, bones and snacks should all be counted in their daily amount. Make sure all family and household members know how much Fido is allowed each day, and they don’t get tempted to break the rules. If you want your dog to lose weight, it has to be a team effort, the whole pack has to be involved. Watch out for those sneaky feeders who will try and spoil your pup behind your back, as they could be the main cause of their weight gain.

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