Pet obesity is on the rise in the UK. It is estimated that 60 per cent of dogs and 39 per cent cats are overweight.
And 81 per cent of vets and nurses report seeing an increase in the number of overweight animals.
Overweight animals are less energetic, less willing to play and generally get less enjoyment out of life. It’s a very serious issue.
No one likes to be told they are overweight and this applies to our pets as well.
I remember feeling rather embarrassed when I took Barney, my parents dog to the vets, the words ‘he’s slighty overweight’.
I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
I knew from my veterinary nurse days, that once a dog is overweight it can be difficult to lose the weight.
He is getting older, which means added pressure to his joints.
In 2018, the animal charity PDSA published an Animal wellbeing report, a shocking 40 per cent of pet owners don’t know their pets current weight or body condition score.
Also, it is worrying that only per cent (89,000) owners never walk their dogs, 16 per cent (1.4 million) are walked less than once a day, 33% dog owners walk their dogs just once a day.
As it’s National Pet obesity awareness day on 9th October, I spoke to Rachel Bean RVN, who has been qualified veterinary nurse for over 20 years for her advice for owners.
In March 2019, I hosted her Canine first aid course in West Wickham.
She is amazing, passionate about her work and so knowledgeable.
Here Rachel shares her advice on how owners can tackle Pet obesity and ensure their pets are healthy and happy.
How can you tell if your dog is obese?
Many dogs are correct weight but equally many are Overweight.
It can vary from breed to breed as to how easy they become overweight, Labradors, for example are a breed that are often overweight.
So the first thing is to look at the breed and what’s normal for them.
Dogs that are overweight will generally not have a waist and you will not be able to feel the ribs easily because of the thick layer of fat.
Overweight dogs may tire easily and get out of breath when exercising too.
What can you do about it?
The first thing to do is accept and recognise your dog is overweight and then make an appointment with your Qualified Veterinary Nurse.
If your dog hasn’t had a check up in the last 6 months then it is worth getting a check up first with the Vet who will then refer to the Nurse for a Weight Clinic Appointment, these are generally free.
It is better to have a slow weight loss plan rather than a drastic weight loss. The weight is more likely to stay off if it is done slowly.
It is important to stick to it to see the long term results
What’s the best thing to do regarding their diet (make sure everyone in the house knows their eating plan, no treats)
The type of food you feed your dog is a key part in maintaining the correct weight.
Some diets are not suitable for some dogs and too high in calories, especially if we feed too much.
Much the same as us really, too many calories or a poor quality diet can lead to obesity.
It is better to spend a little more on a quality diet that gives better nutrition and calorific content.
Equally, cutting the food amount down drastically will not help weight loss as the dog is lacking the correct nutrition and the body will store fat.
You may have to experiment with different foods and amounts to trigger the metabolism and burn calories.
Would measuring daily intake of food help?
Yes, it is important to measure the portions so intake can be monitored.
It also helps the rest of the family feed the same amount consistently
What are health implications?
The health implications, like us, are many.
Your dog can develop Diabetes, High blood Pressure, Skin problems, breathing issues, Heart disease, Liver disease.
The other major one is Arthritis, this is very painful for dogs and is often overlooked and not treated with pain relief.
Can an exercise plan help?
An exercise plan can definitely help.
The exercise has to be suitable for the dogs breed and life stage.
If the dog is unfit the exercise has to be built up gradually so the dog doesn’t suffer injuries.
It may be worth consulting with your Vets for a plan.
Activities such as Hydrotherapy with a registered Centre can also help with fitness and weight loss.
Any tips to keep dogs at a healthy weight?
Regular visits to the Vets will help keep you informed of your dogs health and general fitness.
Always act proactively rather than wait until your dog is overweight or unwell before seeing the Vet.
If owners are worried what’s your advice for them?
If you are worried, then book in with the Veterinary Nurse at your Vets for a chat and they will advise the next step for you and your Dog.
Acting early to prevent weight gain could mean you have a longer and illness free time together
There is plenty of really great advice here from Rachel and I hope you find it useful.
If you are concerned that your dog is overweight the first thing, you need to do is contact your vet.
Exercise is the key in keeping them happy and healthy.
If you feel your dog could benefit from extra walks. I provide a safe and stimulating. Solo adventure, that brings your dog home better behaved.
If you would like to know more of how I can help you then why not book a free 15 minute discovery call.
You can find out more about Rachel Bean Canine First Aid course https://www.facebook.com/Canine-First-Aid-Workshops-UK-Rachel-Bean-RVN-556030481086785/ and http://www.rachelbean.co.uk