Does your dog need to go on a diet? | TeamDogs
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Does your dog need to go on a diet?

Fitness Furst slimming club for dogs launched to combat canine obesity

Danielle Elton

Posted 4 months ago ago

(Trevor Roberts - Birmingham Post)

This country seems to be amid an obesity pandemic, and that seems to have extended to our dogs too.

While it might be tempting to show your love by bringing out the treat jar, it could prove detrimental to your dog’s health.

Shockingly, over a third of owners admit that their dog is overweight, according to a recent study by raw pet food brand Natural Instinct. 

And lockdown hasn’t helped matters, with 44% revealing they have fed their dog extra treats every week due to increased time at home, some daily.

I think a lot of us can relate to that. Lockdown wasn’t kind to our waistbands.

But a new diet club for dogs could help.

In a bid to help curb dog obesity this spring, Natural Instinct is launching the ‘Fitness Furst’ diet club to provide expert opinion and advice to owners whose dogs need to shed those extra doggy pounds.

The club will be hosted by a vet and animal behaviourist and will include a weigh-in, support on feeding, diet and fitness advice for members, and more.

Lack of knowledge is a key factor in the battle against obesity, the data finds, as nearly two thirds (62%) revealed that they did not know the correct portion sizes for their dog, confessing that they always estimate meal sizes.

The younger age group of 16-29-year olds are the least likely to know correct portion size (54%), as well as West Highland Terrier owners, with 83% estimating what they feed to their dog.

1 in 5 (21%) also said they were unaware of the correct weight for the breed and size of their dog. The over 60’s were the least aware of the correct weight (28%), while the survey also found that Shih Tzu (29.1%) and Pug owners (26.8%) were least likely to know how much their dog should weigh.

Vet Richard Doyle of Wylie Vets comments, “We encounter a high number of dogs who are overweight and it does, in many cases, come down to the knowledge of owners as to what they should or shouldn’t be feeding and importantly how much. 

“A good place to start is to look at what dogs have evolved to eat over many millions of years. Dogs being hunters and scavengers means meat forms a major part of a balanced diet. This is a diet high in animal protein (as opposed to plant protein) and fat. This evolutionary diet is very low in carbohydrates particularly sugars and starch.

Photo by Magdalena Smolnicka on Unsplash

“As Vets, we find that dogs fed plant-based proteins and high carbohydrate diets are at much higher risk of developing obesity (and many other modern diseases such as skin disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and diabetes). 

“It is also very much harder to lose weight on a diet based on plant proteins and carbohydrates.   

He added: “Excess weight will be more obvious in certain breeds of dog such as Dachshunds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull terriers. 

“There is a common misconception that certain breeds are more likely to put on weight than others such as Labradors loving their food, however, this is not the case. No dog should be overweight. 

“It is quite simple, first we need to understand what fuel is best for our precious pooches. Then we need to work out how much fuel they need. Then we need to understand how the engine works – for instance how exercise and hormones control how our pets use the fuel we give them.”

How to tell if your dog is overweight

If you’re concerned your dog might have piled on the pounds, there are some signs you can look out for.

They include:

  • You cannot feel their ribs
  • Their weight is higher than normal
  • They do not have a prominent abdomen
  • They do not have a defined waist
  • Lack of interest in physical activity
  • Excessive panting

Richard, alongside other canine experts, will be hosting free online sessions as part of the launch of the Natural Instinct ‘Fitness Furst’ diet club, for those looking for support and advice. 

To sign up pet owners should email fitnessfurst@naturalinstinct.com.

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