One of the most prevalent health problems in dogs is one you’re probably not going to see your vet about. In fact, it’s something most dog owners aren’t even aware of. However, it’s a problem that in our estimation affects up to two thirds of adult dogs (and a significant percentage of puppies). It also produces a significant number of side effects. Fortunately, however, once you become aware of it, it is easy to correct and by doing so you’re going to have a much happier – as well as healthier – dog.
That health problem is: being overweight.
As we travel around the country, we see a large number of dogs. From what we have seen, at least two thirds of dogs are overweight. In the US, dog obesity is now listed as one of the major health problems in dogs. Just as with the human population, it’s going the same way here.
In fact, it has got to the stage where many dog owners are not really aware of what a dog at the right weight actually looks like. Obesity and being overweight are increasingly seen as normal. For a guide on how to tell if your dog is overweight, have a look here (link to http://www.petfooddirect.co.nz/feed-calculator/)
There are many problems caused for a dog by it being overweight. Again as with humans, many of them don’t show up until later in life when they are going to be severe and potentially life-threatening. These include heart disease, cancer, digestive problems, joint problems (including arthritis and stiffness). Even for a young dog, though, being overweight can cause it to be short of breath and lack energy.
There are three main causes of a dog being overweight or obese:
- Lack of exercise
- Feeding inferior or ‘junk’ foods.
None of this is rocket science, yet it is surprising how many dog owners don’t give much consideration to these things. Particularly when it comes to food, many owners think that because a dog will eat something, or because the label says it’s a ‘good’ food, that it can’t harm the dog. Try eating and drinking nothing but fizzy drinks and burgers for the rest of your life and see how healthy YOU stay!
Here are some tips to help prevent your dog from becoming overweight – or to help it get back to it’s ideal weight if it already is:
- Stop feeding table scraps or other human foods. Dogs have very different digestive systems to humans. Just because it’s ok for you doesn’t mean it is for the dog.
- Eliminate ‘junk’ food from its diet. These are any dog foods that contain wheat, soy (and other grain-based ‘fillers’), artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives, sugar, and by-products.
- Choose a high quality food that has a named meat (such as chicken or lamb) as the first ingredient (preferably in “meal” form which is much more concentrated).
- Don’t leave food ‘lying around’ for the dog to ‘graze’. Dogs are NOT naturally fussy. Leave the food for a few minutes and if it is not all eaten take it away until the next meal time. It will soon get the message!
- Use our feed calculator (http://www.petfooddirect.co.nz/feed-calculator/) to find the right amount to feed. However, always monitor the results and adjust accordingly if your dog gains or loses weight.
- Always feed LESS than you think you need to. If it’s a quality food with no fillers (such as Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic) you might think the right portion doesn’t look very much. However these are concentrated foods so you don’t need a lot.
- If you want to give your dog a ‘treat’ don’t give it one of those commercial treats. Due to the ingredients and their source (usually Asia) they have been linked to severe health problems and even deaths among dogs. At the moment there are a number of food recalls being issued for these treats, especially those that contain chicken. Instead, give it a couple of kibbles of its normal food. Trust me, they’re going to enjoy it just as much!
Obesity in dogs is such a tragedy as it really doesn’t need to be that way. Stick with a quality food such as Pro Pac or Earthborn Holistic which have high quality ingredients, nothing inferior or artificial and have been proven to give long-term health benefits to dogs. By doing that – and making sure you feed the right amount – you’re going to maximise your chances of having a happy and healthy dog for a long time to come.
Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic have been rated amongst the top foods on the market. Dogfoodadvisor.com, the world’s leading independent analyst of dog foods, rated them four and five stars (their highest rating) from more than 3300 foods reviewed. This was higher than Royal Canin, Eukanuba, Nutro, Pro Plan or Hills Science Diet.
For more information and to order Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic dog and cat foods visit Petfood Direct at www.petfooddirect.co.nz