What is the cause?
Weight gain in pets is normally as a result of an increase in body fat. The most common cause is a pet eating too many calories (just like ourselves) We often like to treat our pets, but sometimes giving them "human" treats such as crisps and chocolate can contain up to half of their daily required calorie in-take. Too many calories combined with a lack of exercise can also exacerbate the problem. If more energy is being gained from food than is being used, the surplus will be stored as fat.
Other causes, include:
Medical disorders - sometimes weight gain is associated with a medical disorder, which may require investigations and or treatment - speak to the vet.
Neutering or spaying - Pets, which have been neutered, have a higher risk of weight gain because of their altered metabolism. (However neutering has many other positive health benefits)
Age - Older pets are often less active and if so require fewer calories
Breeds -Some breeds are genetically predisposed to over eating and excessive weight gain - speak to the Vet, who will advise you.
How do I know if my dog is overweight?
The best thing to do is visit us, to have your dog assessed and weighed. Many practices offer pet weight control clinics as a free service, because they understand the importance of preventative health and your dogs weight could, be associated with some other health problems such as:
- Heart disease
- Skin disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Arthritis or other joint problems
- Breathing difficulties
- An increased surgical risk
Other signs that your dog is overweight are:
- You cannot feel your dog's ribs
- Loss of your dog's waist and more bulk around their hips
- Slow to move and difficulty in walking
- No energy and sleeps a lot
- Short of breath
How can I reduce my dog's weight without starving him?
Just reducing the amount of food your dog normally eats will usually fail, as your dog will become very hungry and will be begging for more food, the added problem is by decreasing the amount of their normal food, not only reduces the calorie content but also reduces all of the other vital nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately today, we have available to our pets special prescription diets which are carefully nutritionally balanced, yummy to eat, low in calories, available in canned and dry and make the dog feel full with fibre, so he will not continually badger you for more food (it is a pity that they have not produced one for people) The Veterinary Surgeon will be the best person to advise and support you through this process.
Useful tips while your dog is losing weight.
Work with the Veterinary Practice.
If we advise you to follow a particular health and weight programme do stick with it, so your dog will obtain the health benefits in the long term and you will have a happy, active dog.
Make every one in the family and neighbourhood aware, your dog is on a weight control programme and ask for their help. They could spoil a week's work with a few small titbits.
Do not overfeed the recommended amount, always follow the Vets advice or follow the guide on the side of the pack.
Do use an appropriate specially formulated food for weight loss. Many so-called "light foods" are only designed to prevent and maintain weight loss. They are not very effective at ensuring weight loss, safely, over the shortest period of time, speak to our Vet, who will advise you.
Feed your overweight dog separately from the other pets in the house.
Keep your dog out of the room when you are eating or preparing the families meals, to avoid them begging and you giving into temptation.
Reward your dog with cuddles, playing games or going for walks rather than with food. If you feel you have to give your pet a treat, hand feed him a small proportion of his diet food. Or ask our Vet about special prescription treats, which are low in calories.
Encourage, regular moderate exercise to improve your dog's health and well being and help control his weight. Do check with our Vet if you are planning a new health regime.
Ensure your pet has a regular weight check at our practice to closely monitor his weight loss and obtain continued support and advice.
When your dog has achieved his goal, do continue to feed your dog on an appropriate lower calorie maintenance food to help prevent the extra weight returning. You have done extremely well; do not undo all of your hard work.
When you and your dog have achieved your goal, you will both benefit from a whole new lease of life, your dog will feel happy, healthy and fit again and you will have your bouncy puppy like dog again. Well done.