We all want our pets to be healthy and live a long enjoyable life, by changing simple things in your dogs every day routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of obesity:
- Carry out regular weight checks once a month or so. With smaller breeds this can be done by picking them up and putting them on the scales, with larger breeds you can pop them into the vet to be weighed. This also gets your dog used to the vet for when they really need to visit.
- Carry out your own body condition score on your dog, there are plenty online to use, try http://www.pet-slimmers.com/shapedog.htm for your dogs very own weight watchers guide!
- Like us, each dog needs a different amount of calories depending on factors such as its breed, size, age, gender, exercise levels, etc. Getting this right can be a challenge and may take some trial and error to achieve a good balance.
- Be careful of how many treats you feed your dog as these (just like ours) are high in calories. Dry pet foods often have more calories than wet, so make sure you feed the correct amount.
- Give smaller amounts of food at more regular intervals. Little and often is the key, and this can be hard when you are out all day but spreading meals out makes them easier to digest and also provides stimulation to prevent boredom.
- Try to make sure if you have more than one pet that they only eat their food allowance, its harder to keep track if they are all eating together, but dogs generally try to eat cat food if it’s left lying around not eaten!
- Try and set up who is responsible for feeding the dog in the household, this will help the dog get into a routine but also makes sure everyone knows who fed the dog, if the routine changes a lot then it’s easy for them to be fed twice, or not at all. Providing routine is best to maintain weight levels and insulin balance. Also if you have children make sure they don’t feed the dog when your not around, or leave open food unattended, it’s easy for the kids to be fooled by the puppy dog eyes!
- Try not to use food treats as rewards, it can be good for training as a puppy, but nothing too high in calories and try swapping food treats for cuddles, exercise and playtime instead.
- Which leads on to one of the most important factors….exercise! Try to exercise your dog daily in play, walks and runs. Not only will this keep your dog fit and healthy but it will ensure all his joints are supple and that they are in the best of health, which can only help reduce your vets bills/pet insurance claims in the future.
Photo ‘Ketzel checks out her new grown up dog food’ courtesy of redjar (Flickr).