Canine obesity is one of the biggest health risks facing dogs in the UK. Vets estimate that 40% of pet dogs in the UK are obese (overweight). In this article, we explore the causes of obesity, the health risks associated with obesity and the role of a raw food diet in ameliorating the condition.
What is Obesity?
Obesity, or the chronic state of being overweight, arises when a dog builds up excess fat around the body. With an obese dog, the natural indentation of the stomach disappears, the rib cage cannot be felt by fingers and the dog is lethargic and sometimes uncomfortable walking.
What Should My Dog Weigh?
There are charts of ideal body weight for various breeds, these are really just a guide and there are so many mixed breeds of dogs that it can be very confusing for some.
Your Dog Is An Ideal Weight If:-
- When you Can feel ribs gently rippling under the skin with a flat palm?
- Looking from above you can see a waist line
Just be aware if you have a dog with thick hair you may not see this, but if you’re snuggling and cuddling then it will be very apparent.
Wee puppies should have wobbly skin and puppy fat. As they grow older they will become leaner but you should never be able to see ribs. (For more information on your dogs weight, see our helpful article)
What causes obesity in dogs?
A number of factors influence a dog’s weight:
- Quality of diet
- Quantity of diet
- underlying illnesses or conditions
Quality of Diet
Most dogs in the UK are fed on processed foods – either wet or dried. Many also receive an abundance of treats; either dog specific treats or human food from the table.
Carbohydrates in the food are the culprits for weight gain. Remove the grains (rice and oats etc) potatoes, peas, lentils etc. The body will also hold excess water if a dog is fed a highly processed diet to try dilute the toxins.
Giving your dog an appropriate species-specific diet (no to very low Carbohydrates) will enable your dog’s system to digest and utilise the nutrition within it, without laying down fat or having to firefight toxins.
Quantity of Diet
Dogs like all living organisms need sustenance to run their living systems. We need energy and materials to build and repair bodies. Most mammalian systems are designed to store excess nutrition as fat. These fat stores can be drawn on when conditions are bad. This model is efficient in the wild where conditions vary from season to season. A pet dog, however, never has bad days so they do not need to store food much like us in the modern world.
Giving the amount of food for your dogs ideal weight will ensure they reach that target with ease. To Calculate the amount of food for your individual dog take a look here .
Dogs need appropriate exercise for a healthy body and mind. Engaging their brains, body and noses is important for them to flourish. So do take into account your dogs abilities, age and likes when finding the right outlet for physical and mental stimulation.
If you are feeding the appropriate amount and correct diet but are concerned your dog is unwell in any way please do go see your vet.
How a dog can lose weight
There are a number of ways for a dog to lose weight and the most efficacious way to help a dog is to combine them
- Feed the appropriate amount of food for your dogs ideal weight.
- Improve the quality of food
- Appropriate exercise
Feed the amount of raw food appropriate to the weight your dog needs to be. Also be mindful of the amount of treats or food rewards your dog gets during the day as this
Ensure you are giving your dog a perfect diet specific to the species needs. No added fillers such as rice or oats or wheat and lentils and peas. Basically, a non processed fresh raw diet is the ticket.
As Above exercise appropriately for the size and breed of dog you have. Athletic dogs thrive on distance and short hit exercises. Mix and match with nose work and other fun activities to inspire your dog and keep him focused on you for fun times. Also be mindful that good rest is equally important for any living being. Living a stress-free life as possible is what also leads to a long healthy life.
The Potential Role of Raw Food Diet in Tackling Obesity
A raw food diet combines a number of ingredients required by the canine species.
If you have read our posts about raw food, you will already know that dogs thrive on the diet that evolution has designed them for. Raw food is also the appropriate food for a dog from a behavioural perspective (see our article on diet and dog behaviour)
Tricks & Strategies to Survive those Begging Eyes.
Even if you can get all this together, you still have to survive those begging eyes staring at you pitifully, expressing your dog’s sense of desperation. DON’T GIVE IN! A few treats and nibbles can defeat the best diet plan. If you love giving your dog treats do ensure they are natural treats and take the corresponding amount away from his daily meal allowance.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a struggle…
- Stick at it – it takes time
- Be disciplined – work out the amount your dog gets each day and keep to it
- Measure weight loss weekly -ensuring a gradual weight loss rather than a rapid decline.
- Make sure your dog is on a balanced natural diet.
- Giving the stomach time to adjust and reduce in size from the bloating a Kibble diet produces will not take long
- You can contact us in the office with any questions
- Remain positive even if your dog begs for more. If your dog has never begged for food before, remember it is probably due to the fact your giving him awesome raw food ad he just loves it and wants more.