As 2013 begins I want you all to take a long, hard look at your dogs. Are they carrying a little extra weight? Do they have saggy bits where they should have muscles?
Over-weight dogs is one of my biggest bug-bears, it literally has be gnashing my teeth to control my diatribe. As someone who has battled with their own weight all their adult life, I know how much carrying a few extra pounds affects my ability to move freely and enjoy day to day activities so to see an over-weight dog struggling to walk or get up from a sit or chase a ball really gets to me.
It seems to be the thing for people with large breeds to try and get them to the upper end of the weight recommendation thinking that it makes them a big example of the breed but in fact, the same as with us, each dog is an individual and will carry weight differently so you need to be aware of your dog’s body condition and not a number on the scales.
To check your dog’s body condition, regardless of the breed try these simple tests.
1. Get your dog to stand up and run your hands along their rib cage. You should be able to feel their ribs under your hand without having to dig your fingers in.
2. With your dog standing, look at them side on. They should all have a noticeable tuck where the ribs are lower than their tummy.
3. When you are looking down on your dog from above, they should narrow behind the ribs so they have a discernible waist.
4. Run your hand under your dog’s chest, between their front legs. There should be small loose veering but this area should be mostly muscle mass.
So if your dog is carrying some extra weight what is the best thing to do to get rid of it? Firstly look at the type of food you are giving them, is it a good quality natural food is it over-processed and full of colourings and sugars? You can change your dog to a light variety sofa good quality food to reduce their calorie intake and make sure you are giving them what they need. If you give your dog left-overs, that’s fine but just remember to reduce the amount of their own food that you add to their bowl.
Secondly, what sort of treats do they get through the day? Biscuits? Left-overs? Chews? pig sears? These soon add up and many treats have lots of hidden sugars the same asap Mars bar does for us. Swap biscuits for a raw carrot which is good for their teeth and their health, small pieces of apple are also really enjoyed by your dog.
Thirdly what is their exercise routine? Do they go out daily? Is it just road walking or do they get a goo doff lead run? Or are you a weekend-warrior? (Short walks through the week whilst you reworking or busy and then take the poor un-fit dogs for hours at the weekend) You should gradually increase your dog’s exercise, like any one embarking on a new routine they need to ease into it gradually so increase your walk by 5 minutes at a time, add in a light jog for the really over-weight dogs to get their heart rate up a bit.
We offer a free weigh-in for our clients so that you can check your dog’s weight loss at any time and we can also advise on ways and means of getting your dog fit and healthy.
Make 2013 the year that you get your dog to the peak of its health and fitness.