Weight Watchers for Dogs

Is your dog overweight?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWould you like to do something about it? If the answer to both questions is “Yes!”, or if you are unsure, then please make an appointment for a free assessment and advice on feeding from one of our staff.

We have a set of stand-on animal scales which allows simple and accurate monitoring of changes in body weight. There is no charge for a “weigh-in”, and no appointment is necessary – just come in and use the scales when it suits you during our opening hours. If weight reduction is not occurring it is important to let one of our Vets or Nurses know so that we can advise on feeding quantities. We recommend weighing every week during a weight loss programme.

What causes obesity?

dry-dog-food-1-926964-mThere are some factors that contribute to obesity over which we have little control; such as breed, heredity, sex and age. However there are some factors that we can control – overfeeding at an early age, exposure to highly palatable foods, lack of physical activity, and pregnancy. Most obesity is caused simply because a pet eats more calories than he or she needs. This means they are eating too much food, having too little exercise, or a combination of both. The excess calories, unable to be used, are stored by the body as fat. Highly palatable commercial pet foods can encourage overeating (the food your pet most likes to eat may not necessarily be the best for him or her!).

Too many snacks or table scraps in addition to the normal diet can be an important cause for some pets. Some of these treats can be very high in calories. Reduced exercise and boredom can result in a pet not using all the calories they consume. Desexed animals are more prone to obesity through hormonal changes.

Potential consequences of being overweight

Heart Disease- as the body fat level increases so does the amount of work the heart has to do to pump the blood through the circulation. The oxygen demand on muscles to carry this excess weight is also increased which adds to the heart’s workload even further.

Tumours- In particular “Lipomas” or fatty tumours

147652_6256-lazy-dogMobility Problems -Arthritis of the major joints (hips, knees, elbows). Damage to soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, tendons (knee ligament ruptures are common).

Decrease in Quality of Life

Animals which are overweight tend to become more sedentary, and spend much of their time sleeping or resting.

Fit, animals in good condition are more alert, active, and interested in life.

Tips for successful weight loss

  • IMG_19234831840585Divide the recommended daily amount into several small meals throughout the day. This will burn more calories as the digestive system is switched on more often. It also helps to reduce hunger and begging.
  • Do not allow the pet in the kitchen when meals are being prepared or in the same room when the family is eating meals.
  • IMG_19227574455331Feed separately from other pets.
  • Have only one person responsible for feeding.
  • Feed all meals only in the pet’s bowl.
  • Eliminate snacks.
  • Provide non-food-related attention such as grooming and play.
  • Exercise the pet daily. For very overweight pets veterinary advice should be sought as to what level of exercise is safe.
  • Beware of returning to old habits once your pet has reached its ideal weight. Remember; give your pet regular exercise, be careful with treats, and instruct the whole family on the very real need to be strict with feeding.

Use the Weight Loss Progress Chart attached to track your pets progress (free PDF download)

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