CARING owners are killing their dogs with kindness – by letting them get obese.
Latest figures from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) PAW Report estimates that 46 per cent of dogs are clinically obese.
Yet, worryingly, only 15 per cent of owners would describe their animal as overweight.
Pet Vet Sean McCormack believes that although giving treats to reward good behaviour is important, we should do so in moderation.
Like humans, if pets overindulge, they will also pile on the pounds.
Bobby the cavalier King Charles spaniel is one of many dogs who got portly after being over-fed by his doting owners.
Sean says: “We all love our pets, but if everyone in the household is giving a biscuit or treat under the dinner table daily, you could be harming them in the long-term.”
Overweight dogs are at risk of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and respiratory issues.
The Association For Pet Obesity Prevention is working to help owners keep them healthy.
FEEDING CHART WITH FAMILY
Founder Dr Ernie Ward says: “Our goal is to help pet parents identify weight gain at the earliest possible age, recommend evidence-based interventions, enhance well-being and extend longevity.”
Sean adds: “There are many ways to get your pet back on track, and your local vet will always be happy to support their weight-loss journey.
“Getting your pet’s weight back under control, sometimes by having a regular weigh-in to monitor things, will ensure a longer, happier and healthier life. So it’s worth making that first step today.
“I urge people to follow these points in order to keep their pet a healthy weight.”
“Get the whole family involved by creating a feeding chart so everybody will know when your dog has been fed.
SWAPPING TREATS FOR A CUDDLE
“Treats shouldn’t take up more than ten per cent of their daily intake, so try swapping treats for a cuddle, scratch or a game of ball. Aim for 20 minutes of walking twice a day. But If your dog struggles at first, start lower and gradually increase your walks by five to ten minutes each week.
“If you have an active pup, swimming is a great way to keep them busy — and great for their joints.
“A low-fat, high-fibre diet will help your dog feel fuller for longer. Check your portion sizes and cut down on the amount of human food they get.
“Regular weight checks can also help ensure you are going in the right direction. Human scales can be used for small dogs.
“For a medium-sized dog, weigh yourself, and then weigh yourself again while holding your dog and subtract the difference. The weight of larger dogs are best checked at your vet.”
Star of the week
GENTLE giant Joey had been left to die on the streets of Afghanistan when Louise Hastie found him seven years ago while working for an animal charity.
His tail and ears had been hacked off and he was in such a terrible state that Louise, 46, from Wednesbury, West Mids, thought putting him to sleep would be the best solution.
But she said: “Joey did not try to run, it was almost like he knew we were there to help him.”
Louise, who has suffered her own personal problems, raised £16,000 to bring Joey back to the UK along with four more dogs and three cats.
She said: “Joey and the other animals gave me something to live for.”
HELEN JENKINS, from Suffolk, is worried about her bunny Benji.
She says: “My house rabbit hates me using my mobile phone. Whenever I am on it he jumps up at me, runs around and chews on the skirting boards. As soon as I end the call he stops. Do you have any advice?”
Sean says: This is an example of attention-seeking behaviour when your focus is elsewhere.
It’s hard to diagnose what’s going on without observing exactly what happens at the time.
In any case, rabbits are an extremely social species, so I always strongly urge owners to keep them in bonded pairs.
Keeping a rabbit alone is a bit sad for the bunny and can lead to behavioural problems.
Maybe it’s time to get your bunny a friend? I’m sure a local pet rehoming shelter or charity would help find a suitable companion.
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MARIANNE JONES, from Mayfair, central London, owns chihuahua Betty.
She says: “How often do you need to brush your dog’s teeth? I try to when they have a bath but he doesn’t really like it very much. Would it be OK to get them done every six weeks or do they need a vet or dog dentist to do it?”
Sean says: The correct answer is every day, like us. Three times a week is the minimum to prevent dental disease.
I realise that’s not something every dog owner is prepared to do, and many dogs won’t tolerate it.
Feeding dry food and dental chews helps slow down plaque. But without brushing, it’s pretty much inevitable your dog will develop bad breath alongside tartar on the teeth.
A trip to the vets will allow them to scale and polish the teeth under anaesthetic, reaching all those hard-to-reach areas.
It is really important as dental disease can have knock-on effects on health if left unaddressed.
Your vet will examine your dog’s mouth at their annual health check and recommend what is needed.
- SEAN McCORMACK, head vet at tailored food firm tails.com, is on a mission to help pets.