Dog owners love treating their beloved four-legged pals â but it seems some are being overly generous with millions of pooches now overweight.
Statistics have revealed how half of the nationâs nine million dogs have been deemed as obese by vets with the problem said to be leaving owners with extra bills.
And the Pet Food Manufacturing Association pet data report for 2018 found that 83% of owners donât think their pet is overweight while one in three never weigh their animal. Meanwhile 14 per cent said they carry out regular weight checks.
The PDSA says that pet obesity is one of the key âwelfare issuesâ in the UK. The charityâs latest Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report predicted that pet obesity will have the biggest health and welfare implications in ten yearsâ time.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman says: âPrevention is definitely better than cure, but if owners are worried about their petâs weight it is never too late to do something about it. With the right advice, a good diet, suitable exercise and a bit of willpower owners have the ability to make a real difference to their petâs health, happiness and life expectancy.
âOwners arenât acting out of cruelty, in most cases theyâre overfeeding or âtreatingâ to show their love and affection. A much healthier way to do this is to take them for an extra walk or give them more playtime.â
Dog lovers in North Staffordshire say monitoring their canineâs weight is vital.
Rowan Oliver has almost qualified as a dog trainer and runs a dog walking business. The 28-year-old, of Ball Green, who has a two-year-old pooch, Spencer, said: âObesity really affects behaviour and youâll find theyâll be a completely different dog once theyâve started losing weight.
âThere are different ways for them to lose weight. Obviously exercise is a big one, but usually it needs to be built up slowly. Hydro is fab as it takes the pressure off the joints. Exercise like agility and sports is good as it gets the dogs using different muscles.
âSplitting up meals works well. For example, save half the breakfast to give at lunchtime which stops temptation to treat so often. And enrichment feeding to slow them down.
âThere are lots of low fat treats and chews available â carrot, cucumber, natural stuff from pet shops like duck necks, lamb plaits, and chicken feet. Dogs usually enjoy these more than the commercial treats.â
Dog trainer Rachel Trafford, who runs Leek-based dog walking and training business Love Walkies and volunteers for Moorlands Dog Rescue, regular checks her dogs. She said: âAs a rule of thumb you should be able to feel your dogâs ribs â vets refer to this as being palpable, able to define each rib.
âIf youâre viewing your dog from above you need to able to see a waist â however you are not meant to be able to see their rib. This however has a caveat on it as a dog who is really fit and athletic will have visibly defined ribs along with outlined muscles. There are breed differences, a saluki will be able to be very thin in appearance but healthy and normal within the breed range, conversely labradors can be one of the hardest breeds to slim down!
âI feel my dogs each week to check for lumps and bumps but also to ensure I can still feel the ribs and not too many calories have slipped through the net. If I feel that their body score has risen I will cut them down slightly for the next week, it is better to catch it at an early stage, rather than allow pets to gain weight over a prolonged period and be exposed to risk of injuries.â
Dog owner and experienced trainer Lorraine Heames, of Chell, said: “I check my dog’s body by feeling for his ribs and if I can feel them, he’s fine. Sometimes when you see the ribs, especially with mine, it means he can be underweight and not feeling them – he’s overweight!”