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‘New Year, New Me’ for you and your dog

‘New Year, New Me’ for you and your dog

Has your pooch piled on a few extra pounds recently? If your four-legged friend is looking a bit portly, don’t despair, you are not alone – up to 60% of the UK canine population are overweight with 20% classified as obese. We all know how easy it is to slip into bad habits and what better time to turn over a new leaf for your canine companion than the start of a new year.

How can you tell if your dog is overweight?

If you find it tricky to tell if your dog is overweight, you are not alone. Spending every day with your four-legged friend can make it challenging to spot weight gain. Combine that with the large number of overweight pets out for walkies and it can be easy to think that somewhat large dimensions are normal.
Weighing your dog is great for assessing trends in weight gain or loss, and for having a ‘target weight’ to aim for, but visually checking your pet may be more useful when determining your pet’s health:

  1. Run a hand over their ribs

Next time you are giving your pet a fuss, run your hand down the side of their chest. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily but they should not be too prominent.

  1. Look at your dog from above

Your dog should have a waist, in other words their body shape should narrow just behind the rib cage.

  1. View your pooch’s profile

When looked at from the side, your dog’s belly should rise in front of their back legs, known as the ‘abdominal tuck.’ If your pooch is more tubby than tucked it may be time to take action.
These visual checks can be used to give your dog a Body Condition Score. For more information on this system of assessing weight in dogs check out Body-Condition-Score-Dog.pdf (

What are the health risks of being overweight?

Being overweight will shorten your pooch’s lifespan and put them at risk of a whole range of health problems, including:
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Decreased immunity and increased susceptibility to infections

My dog hardly eats anything, why is he overweight?

Just as in people, maintaining a healthy body weight is a balance between calorie intake and exercise levels and all too often, it’s the extra treats between meals that tip that balance in favour of weight gain.
Did you know?
  • A digestive biscuit for a Jack Russell is the same as a portion of chips to us
  • A slice of toast and butter for a spaniel is the equivalent of 2 packets of crisps
  • One custard cream for a terrier is the same as half a packet for a human
  • One chipolata for a pug is the same as a 12oz steak for us
Even treats designed for dogs can be surprisingly calorie-laden. Keeping a food diary can be a great way of keeping track of what your pet actually eats – you may be surprised by the results!

How can I help my dog lose weight?

Before embarking on a weight loss regime, consult your vet to make sure that your dog has no underlying medical conditions. Weight gain is a common sign of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and your vet may want to run blood tests to rule this out. Once your pet has been checked, you can turn your attention to helping them to shed their excess weight.
It may sound obvious, but make sure that you feed your dog less than they are able to burn off during daily walkies. Easier said than done though when pleading puppy-dog eyes gaze at you adoringly.
Top tips for doggy diets
  • Reduce your pet’s food intake by 10% initially, crash diets are not recommended!
  • Aim for 90% of calories to come from their meals and only 10% from snacks
  • Weigh food out using feeding guides as a starting point. You may need to feed less than the packet says!
  • Weight loss diets for dogs can be helpful - Diet Dog Food | Dog Food for Weight Control | Petwell
  • Resist begging – try giving your dog some attention or playing a game with them instead
Top tips for increasing exercise Get your pet checked by a vet before increasing their exercise levels, especially if they are older or have any underlying medical conditions.

New year, new me, for you and your dog

Why not think of some New Year’s resolutions to get you and your canine companion ready for a happy healthy year ahead? Set achievable goals with resolutions that you can stick to. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Walk your pooch twice a day whatever the weather
  • Explore a new walk every week
  • Try out a new activity with your dog – how about agility or flyball?
  • Sign up for a training or obedience class
  • Join a local dog walking group
  • Book your pooch into doggy day care once a week – great for keeping them active all day and they will make some new canine friends!
  • Swap your dog’s calorie-laden treats for something healthier – raw carrot for example
Whatever your preference, spending extra quality time with your pooch will be sure to bring a smile to your face and a wag to their tail. Why not check out some other great articles here: Petwell Blog
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