Little Dog, Big Waistline!

ArkVet Little Dog Waistline

 

Who Could Say No?

Small and miniature dogs are experts at getting spoiled by their adoring owners . They’re also experts  at getting more treats out of their owners – I mean who can resist those sad eyes?! This means that owners have to be on their guard, because small and miniature dogs are just as likely to be overweight or obese as their larger-breed counterparts.

Unfortunately, obesity is now one of Ireland’s biggest pet problems and one that’s growing.  Canine obesity is a major contributing factor in health problems such as: osteoarthritis, diabetes, pancreatitis, heart disease and breathing problems. All of these can be painful and/or life threatening conditions which is why all of us in Ark Vetcare are so focused on keeping your canine companions as trim as possible.

Some small breed dogs in particular are renowned for being susceptible to weight gain. This is particularily true in the case of: cairn terriers, dachshunds, scottish terriers, pugs, cavalier king charles spaniels, cavachons and cocker spaniels. However, even though these breeds are commonly associated with weight gain, any breed can gain too much weight with the wrong nutrition and exercise balance.

 

How to I stop my pet becoming overweight?

For most little dogs, combining calorie-controlled food with regular exercise is a good way to keep fit and healthy. Portion control can be a big problem when it comes to feeding little dogs. To avoid problems, some people find it helpful to measure out a daily food and snack amount into a separate container each day, and then feed their dog only what’s in the container, nothing more. Alternatively food can be measured out at each meal. Measuring the food accurately is much more succesful at controlling our pet’s weight than visually estimating the amount. Talk to any of us at Ark Vetcare if you are unsure of the correct amount of food that you should be feeding your pet, our vets and nurses are only too happy to help.

It’s also important not to forget about snacks and titbits. Small dogs simply need smaller snacks. Find treats for small dogs with low calories, or break larger treats into smaller pieces to satisfy your small friend without piling on the calories.

Carefully checking the labels on your dog’s food and treats will help you fight excessive weight gain. There you’ll find a full set of instructions for proper feeding amounts. Make sure to feed for your dog’s ideal, not current, weight. Remember that everything your dog eats, including treats, factor into their daily calorie intake – which ultimately affects the waistline.

 

Check Your Dog`s BCS

The next time that you call into Ark Vetcare with your pet, ask any of our staff to help you weigh them on our weighing scales and if you are worried about your pet’s weight, one of  our vets or nurses can do a body condition score ( the ratio of lean to fat body mass).  The higher the body condition score (BCS), the more weight your dog will need to lose, with the ideal being a BCS of 3 out of 5. If your dog’s BCS is more than 3, we will chat to you about a  healthy weight-loss plan.

We may recommend a special weight loss diet to enable smooth and reliable weight loss. The diet we recommend is Hills Metabolic Diet.  If used as the sole diet it is very effective. When a dog is put on this diet the ideal weight, weight loss trajectory and feeding guidelines are calculated. All of these help to ensure stable and gradual weight loss that will be able to be maintained long term. It’s also very tasty and from our experience most dogs love it! It can be so effective that owners often comment that they wish their was a human version!

 

Don`t Forget… Plenty of Exercise!

Exercise can also aid a weight loss plan. If your dog is not used to a lot of exercise start slowly and gradually build up. We don’t want to overexert your dog.  Slow and steady wins the race! You could also think outside the box when it comes to exercise. Swimming is a very enjoyable activity for many dogs and is low-impact exercise that will be easier on your dog’s joints. You can even do this in your bath at home if it’s too cold outside – just remember to always supervise your dog in case of a doggy mishap! Throwing a ball is another great fun way to help our dogs burn calories. Another enjoyable way to shift those pounds is partaking in canine agility courses.

And finally when your dog is gazing up at you, pleading for that tasty morsel, be strong! Less calories in means less excess weight, and calorie-rich human food is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to canine weight gain.