Excess weight corresponds to an imbalance between energy intake and energy output. Excess food consumption (greater than the pet's requirements) is usually central to this problem. If the trend continues, weight gain will lead to obesity. A weight-loss plan which includes a specifically formulated diet will best achieve your dog returning to its ideal weight.
Join Gizmo to find out more about the common triggers of weight gain and how to manage it.
An excess in food consumption is often compounded with a lack of exercise, encouraging weight gain. This occurs more often in urban environments. Certain breeds are also genetically predisposed to gaining weight including: Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles for example. A tendency for excess body weight can come from overfeeding a dog during its growth period. An overfed puppy will produce a greater number of fat storage (adipose) cells which, like small balloons, have the potential to ‘fill up’ with fat during adulthood. Indulging begging behaviour with treats, portion sizes that are bigger than recommended on the product packaging and human foods are other recognised risk factors.
A fear of lack of food may underpin overeating behaviour in dogs. This may occur in the case of competition for food among several dogs. A neurohormonal imbalance, boredom, feeding a diet with insufficient energy density or certain digestive conditions may also lead to an unrestrained appetite. A review of the dog’s feeding behaviour and historical changes in weight should be completed by qualified veterinary staff. That way a diagnosis can be reached and a plan to manage the behaviour can be made.
Reducing the quantity of food eaten daily by the dog can often pose a problem. The dog may not easily accept a reduced daily food allowance. Also, simply rationing an animal's normal food as a method of weight loss can cause other complications: you run the risk of causing nutrient deficiencies as less total essential nutrients are being eaten. The objective of a specifically formulated Veterinary Diet is to maintain the volume of food as much as possible, whilst concentrating nutrients so deficiencies don’t occur. At the same time, measures are taken to reduce total calorie intake. This way we’re able to achieve safe, consistent and lasting weight loss.
It is important to make sure the food is appetising and keeps your dog fuller for longer, therefore reducing the sense of hunger between meals.
Additionally, a lifestage health nutrition diet can provide the necessary nutritional support for less active or neutered dogs with a tendency to gain weight.
Dogs with a tendency to gain weight should not only be fed an appropriate diet, but a change in habits should also be considered. A prolonged walk for example, will give your dog greater opportunity to expend his or her energy. Play also offers an opportunity for pet and owner to interact. Giving treats should be avoided unless their energy content is taken into account in the calculation of the daily food ration.
One or two excess kilos may serve as an early warning sign for obesity. Obesity in turn can often lead to further health complications, such as arthritis, ligament damage, cardio and/or breathing problems. It can also impact a dog’s breeding abilities and has been associated with many skin problems. Overall, obesity reduces your dog’s life expectancy - which is why those first few kilos should always be taken seriously.
Once a dog has been fully assessed and diagnosed as obese, the success of the weight loss regime is very much dependent on their owner’s awareness and determination to make the dog keep to the dietary plan. It may take several months of specific health nutrition and exercise for a dog to lose weight but the benefits in doing this can be seen for the rest of your dog's life - a healthier companion, for longer!