How To Keep A Dog Healthy
Keeping our dogs in good shape is vitally important to them and also to us as responsible owners.
Over here in the UK, the general population and sadly it’s dogs are going through an obesity crisis. Our four-legged friends are often overlooked in this matter but according to leading veterinary charity the PDSA, they are claiming from their research that approximately 46% of Vets are saying that they are regularly seeing overweight and obese dogs.
If you add to this the fact that 81% of owners when challenged with these facts dismiss them and state that they think their dog is a fine weight, then you can see that there is a serious issue of denial occurring along with neglect as well.
So, How Do We Know What An Ideal Weight Is?
The very best indicator of this is the overall shape of your dog. Ideal weights for dogs differ from breed to breed, but a healthy shape is the same for all dogs.
You, like me, have probably seen fat Labradors or even Jack Russells that are virtually spherical all because the owner thinks it is ok to give them for human consumption biscuits every day…when it clearly is not!
Veterinary professionals call a healthy shape “Body Condition Scoring”
Body Condition Scoring Dogs
It can be a daunting prospect to actually know what you need to be looking for but thankfully the advice you can get from organizations like the PDSA is absolutely first-rate.
- Firstly, look at your dog from the side and also above. They should have neatly tucked in waist.
- Feel under your dog’s tummy. It should always be going in and not bulging out.
- Feel along your dog’s back and sides. You should be able to feel the ribs, spine, and hips easily, but they should not be sticking out.
I have encountered this a lot with my rescue Greyhounds have often found them to be underweight when I got them, thus making their ribs, spine, and hips very visible and looking very undernourished.
- Feel the base of your dog’s tail. You shouldn’t be able to feel a build-up of fat where the tail meets the body.
Try to look at your dog systematically. You generally will know what they should look like and you are looking for that natural shape.
If you think your dog looks slightly overweight or indeed in my case with my rescue Greys, underweight then think about portion sizes.
Dogs are pretty greedy and will generally eat whatever they can get, so it’s up to us as responsible owners to keep a check on this.
Avoid tidbits of human food too. Dogs can easily hoover up your leftover breakfast of a bit of sausage or bacon rind and why this won’t be a problem if it happens occasionally, if it starts to be a daily habit then this is where the problems can begin.
Keeping a dog food schedule is important and also remembering what and when you feed them is also vital.
You can get this great recording device to help you remember when you fed your dog!
If you are unsure of what to feed and how often, this kind of advice can be given freely from your vet or indeed from the rescue or rehoming center where you got your dog.
Highly responsible breeders will also provide you with this information when you get your dog as a pup too.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet that is suitable for your dog’s age, size, lifestyle, and health.
Monitoring your dog’s body condition is your responsibility. they can’t do it for themselves, so we have to do it for them.
If you notice changes in weight, if their eating behavior has changed or if your dog is drinking more or less than normal, then don’t delay and get them to see the vet as quickly as possible.
A healthy diet is only half of the equation though when it comes to keeping our dog healthy.
Exercise, as I have stated in previous articles is essential to the health and wellbeing of our dogs and it’s very good for us too!
I love walking my dog and especially in rural Cornwall where I live, the weather is sometimes rather wet and windy and it makes you feel glad to be alive although I am not sure my Greyhound Wilson thinks the same way when the sea frets are rolling in on the South coast.
How Should We Be Exercising Our Dogs?
It’s a good question and one where you should really be looking at what kind of dog you have.
Some dogs require much more exercise than others, so a fair bit of relevant research needs to be done by you the owner in order to make sure your dog is getting the very best daily routine.
Consider your dogs breed, age and general health condition and make good decisions based on these factors.
There are no hard and fast rules here, but it is absolutely vital for a dog to be walked at least twice a day for many reasons, not just their physical health but also their mental health too.
Dogs need to be dogs and the walk is a way of bonding with you, sniffing out the world they live in and giving them vital stimulation.
As the saying goes “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind”
Also interacting with other dogs and generally the change of scene from your home or garden is a great event for your dog to look forward to every day.
If you have a dog that likes really long walks then always take some water along with you as they may get thirsty as well as you do, plus as I have mentioned before, it’s great in case of any kind of mishap, scratch or cut your dog may get in a paw…not everyone puts broken glass in the bin, do they?
I walk my dog roughly 3 to 4 times a day…each time it’s about 20 to 30 minutes and that is great for him. he is happy with that level of exercise. he manages to get everything done and as he is a Greyhound, a sprinter, then his fitness levels are different from an endurance dog like a Husky or a Labrador.
The PDSA 2019 Report states that over 99,000 dogs in the United Kingdom are NEVER walked by their owners!
Counting Canine Calories
A lot of dog food manufacturers are now displaying calorie information on their packaging.
This great calculation tool available at Vet’s Kitchen is a superb way of you being able to work out all of the information needed to make good choices in terms of giving your dog the right balanced diet.
My Dog Is Overweight- What Should I Do?
Most dogs will happily adapt to a diet that will make them lose that extra weight but it has to be controlled by you.
One of the easiest ways is to increase physical activity and lower the portion sizes…just as it is with humans!
Keep a record of what you are giving them to eat and instead of filling the bowl, try to maybe add some vegetables like carrot or beans to bulk it out and therefore as they are much lower in calories your dog will still visually be getting a full bowl of food.
Cut out the treats and tidbits.
These can be the source of the underlying weight problem in the first place so try to keep these to an absolute minimum. I myself do not give my dog treats every day.
He gets them of course, but not every day. I think this is where a lot of the problems of overweight dogs occur as it can become a bad habit by us owners to actually think we HAVE to keep treating our dogs. We simply don’t need to be doing this.
We as owners MUST be committed to making sure our dogs eat healthily.
I make my own treats and these are a great and very cheap way of giving your dog something that you know they will benefit from to quickly download it just click below
Broccoli, frozen bananas, Carrots are just a few of the things you can chop up and feed as treats safe in the knowledge that you know what is going into your dog.
Another great idea for your dog if you have a garden is to get a Kong Toy and fill it with natural yogurt and then freeze it. Once frozen chuck it in the garden and watch your dog spend the next 30 minutes really enjoying a great work out! Seriously, it’s great fun for them!
Of course, if you try any of the tips here and you are concerned about your dog’s health for any reason, then you must always seek the advice of a professional vet without delay.
Other great ways to keep your dog at there optimum weight include: