Preventing Excess Weight in Dogs

Keeping your dog in shape

preventing-excess-weight_articleActuExcess weight corresponds to an imbalance between energy intakes and energy outputs. Excess food consumption (greater than an animal’s requirements) is usually central to this problem. If the trend continues, weight gain will lead to obesity: a recognised disease. A weight-loss plan which includes a specifically adapted diet will best achieve a return to your dog’s ideal weight.

Lack of exercise

An excess in food consumption is often compounded with a lack of exercise which encourages weight gain. This occurs more often in an urban environment. We should be mindful also that certain breeds are genetically predisposed: Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles for example. A tendancy for excess bodyweight can originate from overfeeding a dog during it’s growth period. An overfed puppy will produce a greater number of adipose cells which, like small balloons, have the potential to ‘fill up’ with fat during adulthood. Indulging begging behaviour with treats and human foods is another recognised risk factor.

The dog that eats too much

A fear of lack of food may underpin gluttonous behaviour. This may occur in the case of competition for food among several dogs. A neurohormonal imbalance, boredom, feeding a diet with insufficient energy density or certain digestive conditions may also lead to an unrestrained appetite. An investigation of the dog’s feeding behaviour and historical changes in weight should be undertaken along with qualified veterinary staff.  That way a dignoses can be made and a plan to manage the behaviour can be made.

Food with a low energy concentration

Reducing the quantity of food eaten daily by the dog can often pose a problem. The dog may not easily accept a reduction in their daily food allowance. Simply rationing an animals normal food as a method of weight loss can cause other complications: you run the risk of causing nutrient deficiencies as less total essential nutrients are being eaten. The objective of a specifically formulated Veterinary Diet is to maintain the meal volume as much as possible, to concentrate nutrients such that deficiencies don’t occur and reduce total calorie intake. This way we’re able to achieve safe, consistent and lasting weight loss.

Ensuring this food is palatabile means that dogs will accept it and the kibble density also looks to alleviate the sense of hunger between meals.

A lifestage ‘Health Nutrition’ food can also provide the necessary nutritional support for low-activity or sterilised dogs with a tendency to gain weight.

Sound resolutions

Dogs with a tendency to gain weight should not only be fed an appropriate diet but a change of habits should also be considered. A prolonged walk for example will give greater opportunity to expend his energy. Play also offers an opportunity for pet and owner to interect. Giving treats should be avoided unless their energy content is taken into account in the calculation of the daily food ration.

The way towards obesity

One or two excess kilos may serve as an early warning sign for obesity; A disease which should be taken seriously as it often leads to further health complications (arthritis, ligament rupture, cardiorespiratory problems etc). It may also impact on a dog’s breeding abilities and has been associated with many skin problems. Overall, obesity reduces the dog’s life expectancy.

Once a dog has been fully assessed and diagnosed as obese, success of the weight loss regime is very much dependent on their owner’s awareness and determination to make the dog keep to the dietary plan. It may take several months of diet for a dog to lose weight but the benefits in doing so are significant – you’ll have a healthier companion, for longer!

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