To keep them healthy, happy and active for as long as possible, your dog’s diet needs the right balance of the six major nutrient groups: protein, fats/oils (lipids), vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and water.
Giving your dog an occasional, dog treat helps develop your bond, also making a great training aid but feeding too many, or the wrong type of treats can unbalance your dog’s diet and lead to weight problems or health problems.
Dog treats, including biscuits and chews, should be no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
In particular small pieces of bone and fish bones shouldn’t be fed to your dog, as they can damage teeth and cause obstructions in the throat or gut. Chicken bones should always be avoided as they can splinter when chewed and cause real damage if swallowed. Furthermore, larger bones should be avoided as they’re associated with obstructions to the gut.
They may be fine for us to eat but dogs can get very ill from foods we are fine with, and even die, some foods include chocolate, onions, garlic and grapes or raisins.
When it is feeding time, try to serve wet food such as cans/tubs/pouches at room temperature, as it smells more attractive and is easier to digest. This means taking it out of the fridge an hour or so before feeding. It’s fine to use the microwave for a short time to warm it through but be sure that the food is never hot.
Once opened, don’t store wet food for longer than 24 hours, even in the fridge, as it goes stale.
Dry food can be left out during the day without spoiling. Store it in a clean, dry environment, ideally in an airtight container or a resealable box, to maintain its appealing smell and stop it from going stale.
Never exercise your dog an hour before or an hour after feeding. Large and giant breed dogs are more susceptible to bloating of the stomach and twisting of the gut (a condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus), which is a medical emergency.
Depending on the breed, we usually advise once or twice a day. Your smaller dog, with its smaller tummy, may need to be feed more often. Equally larger breeds, who have a tendency to consume their food quickly, may be better off with two smaller meals, rather than one big one. Quickly consuming a lot of food at once can lead to problems in the gut.
It’s estimated that 33% of dogs are overweight or obese! This is a result of eating too much, and not moving enough to burn it off.
You can tackle the problem by taking a look at how much energy your dog takes in via their food, and how much they’re burning off with exercise. You can then adjust their food to a diet formula and increase how much they exercise with an extra walk when necessary. Remember that just feeding your dog less of their regular food is not the answer, as this could mean they’re missing out on their ideal balance of nutrients.
Body condition scoring for your dog is really simple if you follow some easy steps. It uses a scale of one to nine, with one meaning ‘very underweight’ and nine meaning ‘very overweight’.
A dog body condition score between four and five is considered ideal, it’s not too big and not too small, you should aim to get your dog here. To work out your dog’s current body condition score, there are three areas you should check.
If your dog is not used to regular exercise but you’ve decided to start a routine, start off gently, it’ll be more easy-going for both of you, and you’ll be able to build up some stamina. Begin your dog exercising routine with short periods of activity slowly, gradually increasing the time, speed and distance until your dog is getting the right amount of exercise for their size, breed and weight. If you aren’t sure about this ask your vet.
Your vet will be able to tell you during their regular assessments if your dog is overweight, but it’s quite simple to weigh a small dog at home using bathroom scales. First weigh yourself, then pick up your dog and get back on the scales to measure the difference. This will be more difficult for larger dogs, so if you have a bigger breed of dog, you may wish to stick to your vet’s scales!
For a more in-depth assessment, use a body conditioning tool. Checking your dog’s body condition is quick to do and allows you to spend even more quality, hands-on time with your pet.
Most importantly you should be patient with your dogs weight loss. Dog weight loss should be gradual – over several months depending on how much your dog has to lose – and may in some cases take up to a year. If your dog loses weight too fast, they can easily put it all back on, so be patient.
It’s always a good idea to consult your vet before putting your dog on a weight-loss programme, as your dog’s weight is very strongly linked to their health. As well as helping you to develop an individual weight-loss regime for your pet, your vet will also be able to track progress and provide you with ongoing support. Many practices have a regular weight-loss clinic to help keep you and your pet motivated and on the right track.
Check instore for our range of products that can be used whilst exercising your pet!