The Hidden Health Problem for Two-Thirds of Dogs

Dog on scaleOne 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:

  1. Lack of exercise
  2. Overfeeding
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

The 7 Right Habits for Feeding Your Dog

dogeatingWith the new year starting it’s a very good time to think about your dog’s feeding routine and how you can best help him stay healthy and happy. Just as with us humans, having a dog that is free of health problems and can get the most out of life is not about the one or two things you do at random. It’s about creating healthy habits that last for a lifetime.

 

If you do that you’re going to see some great benefits over the immediate and long term. Things like:

  • a dog with a healthy skin and coat
  • a dog that maintains the right weight
  • a dog without joint problems
  • far fewer trips to the vet.

Here are some of the right habits to get into when feeding your dog. They are not difficult and your dog will thank you for it.

Habit #1: Feed at the same time each day. We recommend feeding twice a day for adult dogs and for puppies up to seven months three times a day. Your pet will probably remind you of the time, but it is a good idea to get into a feeding routine of providing the food at about the same time each day.

Habit #2: Don’t leave the food lying around. Some dog owners tell us that their pet is fussy and grazes at it throughout the day. However, the problem with leaving food around is that it can attract flies and even ants. Even the fussiest dog will soon get the message if their food is taken away if they don’t eat it straight away.

If you’re not convinced, try it for a week. No dog ever starved itself by not eating the food when it was made available.

Habit #3: Don’t make a fuss of the dog as it eats. Dogs have a very different relationship with food than humans do. Food is fuel for their body, nothing more. So you don’t want to draw attention to the dog eating. Simply put the food down and move away to let it eat. Come back in ten minutes and remove the bowl until next feed time.

Habit #4: Keep the water bowl full. Water is obviously vital to a dog’s health. Make sure there is always plenty of clean, fresh water available.

Habit #5: Make the dog sit and wait before allowing it to eat. Don’t just plonk the food down or, worse, allow the dog to jump all over you when it sees the food coming. By making the dog sit and not allowing it to eat until you give your permission you are sending a very powerful signal to the dog that you are the boss. By doing this you will find your dog will respect you more and will be more obedient in general (as well as less fussy with the food).

Habit #6: Eliminate table scraps and other ‘human’ foods. A dog has a very different digestive system to a human and they are not designed to eat the same foods as us. If you want to give your dog a treat, give them a kibble or two of their normal food, or perhaps a carrot. You might think you’re saving money by feeding scraps, but often the vet bills due to poor health (which may not show up for years) will easily offset any savings you make.

Habit #7: Only feed a quality food. A good quality food is designed to give your dog exactly the right balance if nutrients to ensure the maximum health for the longest period of time. There is a very big difference between these foods and those which are made from waste products and are marketed simply to make money for the manufacturer.

Think about it – do you think that the companies who sell fizzy drinks, cigarettes and potato chips consider that they are going to improve our health with their products? No, that’s not their purpose. They’re making products that we’re going to like the taste of, probably get addicted to, and keep buying! Being healthy has nothing do do with it.

If you ate a diet of nothing but junk food for 20 years you’re going to end up with major health problems – and you know that you would.

It’s no different with dogs. If you feed your dog a poor diet for most of it’s life it IS going to have health problems.

Feed a food that is designed with health in mind. And don’t believe what you read on the packaging of junk dog foods either – a lot of human junk foods also claim that they are healthy for you when clearly they are not.

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are two foods that are designed with the dog’s health as the top priority. There are no waste products, filler ingredients or artificial additives, just quality meats and natural sources of energy and nutrition. The quality was recently endorsed by Dogfoodadvisor.com, when they independently rated these foods amongst the best of more than 3300 that they reviewed.

Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic are available from Petfood Direct at www.petfooddirect.co.nz

Make these habits part of your routine and you’ll not only have a happy and healthy dog, you’re going to make things easier for you as well.