Dog: A healthy weight starts with healthy habits

A healthy weight is key to your dog’s general health and wellbeing. Here are four simple ways to maintain that healthy weight and keep your dog in good shape.

1. Healthy shape

Weighing your dog is not the only way to check if they’re overweight. You can find out if your dog is a healthy weight by asking your vet how to use the Body Condition Score.

It’s crucial to identify if your dog is carrying too much weight and take action, as an overweight dog has a higher risk of serious and life-changing conditions. These can include diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and more.

The best way to check if they’re gaining too much weight is a 3-step look-feel-weigh approach.

  1. Look at their behaviour and shape. Are they somewhat lethargic or do they get tired easily? Does their stomach sag or can you see their waist and the tuck of their abdomen behind their ribs?
  2. Feel their ribs – can you only feel them with heavy pressure?
  3. Weigh your dog – by weighing them regularly you can monitor any weight gain. Your vet can tell you their ideal weight based on their current weight and assessing their body condition score.

2. Healthy activity

Activity is key to keeping your dog stimulated and at a healthy weight. The amount of exercise varies based on their age, weight and breed. Different breeds will have varying energy levels and exercise requirements. Similarly, the amount of activity your dog needs will depend on their age and health.

You can begin to work out how much exercise your dog needs each day by noticing how your pet behaves when you get home after a walk. Are they calmer? Do they seem content? If so, and if they’re happy when it’s time to pick up the leash and head outdoors, you’ve got it right.

3. Healthy portioning

Many pet owners think their dog needs more food than it really does. This means that many dogs are overfed which can cause weight gain and lead to other health issues.

A healthy weight is maintained by achieving the right balance between energy intake and energy output. So the correct portion size for your dog can be different from any other dog, even if it is the same breed.

The starting point is to follow the feeding guide given by the food you have selected which is most appropriate your dog. However, a number of factors may also need to be taken into consideration when determining the portion size.

First, consider the size of your dog. Try to choose a product which is designed for your breed or size of dog.

Next, think about their activity levels; are they a working dog or do they spend most time indoors? If you have any concerns about what quantities to feed your dog, please contact your  vet for specific advice.

Tips to maintain portion sizes for your dog

Maintaining healthy portion sizes for your dog may feel tricky, however there are a number of things you can consider to make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog:

  1. Use weighing scales for each meal to maintain accurate quantities every time.
  2. Don’t add human food to your dog’s ration
  3. If you’re giving your dog treats, they should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s daily rations 

4. Healthy growth

Losing weight is more difficult than preventing weight gain in the first place, so it’s important that healthy habits and behaviours are set from day one. One of the best ways to ensure that your puppy grows into a happy and healthy dog is to instill appropriate feeding and exercise habits from the beginning.

When it comes to feeding your puppy, take care to provide puppy food in the correct portion size as your pet reaches each different developmental stage. Say no to any begging behaviour in your puppy to keep their food intake in check.

Checking in regularly with your vet will help you meet your puppy’s needs at each developmental milestone as it grows up.

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