Robert Belobrajdic has over 30 years experience with dogs, including breeding and showing South African Boerboel. In 2012, he co-founded Stay Loyal Dog Food with the mission to “Help you improve your dog’s health, increase life span and better your relationship with your dog!”. All of Stay Loyal’s food is tasty, highly nutritious and Grain Free and has been developed over a 30 year period of trial-and-error. An expert in dog care and nutrition, Robert appears on our blog each month with advice and tips around dog nutrition and health.
Dog obesity is on the rise. In 2013, the Animal Health Alliance reported that 41% of Australian dogs were overweight. Many veterinarians believe that number has gone up since then.
Just like obesity in humans, overweight dogs are prone to a host of health issues and will most likely have shorter lifespans. Unfortunately, many owners use food as a way of showing their dog they love them, but are really causing their beloved pet more harm than good; you are literally killing them with kindness. Overfeeding and the lack of exercise are the two major factors when it comes to obesity.
This is one of the biggest problems when it comes to dog obesity. And it comes in two forms. First, is feeding too many treats in addition to your dog’s meals. Whether you are feeding dog cookies or human food, they are still calories. Vets say treats should only make up ten percent of your dog’s diet. So a big culprit here is positive reinforcement training. If you are training your dog using treats, you can easily go over that percentage without thinking about it. To balance this out, feed less of their regular food on days you train and/or make them work for their meal. This way, your dog learns he has to work for his food and he isn’t getting extra calories.
The worst possible way to feed your dog.
The other problem is just plain overfeeding. Some people, especially owners of little dogs, “free feed” their dogs, meaning their dog has a bowl full of food at all times and can eat whenever they like. If you did this with a Lab, he would probably eat until his stomach exploded. Labradors and Flat-coated Retrievers are actually missing a gene that makes them forever hungry. And while they are the extreme, most other dogs will also over eat because their ancestors, the wolf and wild dogs, do so to survive. A wolf may gorge on an elk he gets, but that’s because he may not eat again for another three days – he needs to store up fat and energy to survive between meals. Our pampered house dogs get fed every day, they don’t need to do this.
How lean should my dog be?
Did you know you should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs? There should only be a small amount of tissue and skin covering them. You do not want to be able to see all your dog’s ribs, seeing the last one or two is okay. You can check your dog’s body condition with our easy to read chart.
Feeding your dog less of a high quality food will extend your dog’s life and save you money!
A large pet food brand did a lifetime study where they followed forty-eight Labradors – half were fed twenty-five percent more food than the other half. The half that was fed less, lived two years longer than the group that was overfed. Overfeeding literally shortens the lifespan of your dog.
And, you’re wasting money. If your dog doesn’t need that large amount food, you could save money by feeding him less. (It will also save you money in obesity-related health bills!) Even better, having to feed less means you can feed a high quality brand, like Stay Loyal, and still save money.
What is my dog is overweight?
Check the label on your dog’s food to see how much he should be eating. You are going to have to feed less than what he should get for his “optimum body weight” (the weight he should be not, not the weight he is) . For example, if he should be 20kg, you need to start by feeding him the amount for a 15kg dog, until he has lost the excess weight. This is so important. Most owners look at their overweight dog, who weighs 40kg and feed them whatever a 40kg dog should eat, even though he is only supposed to weight 25-30kg.
Equally important, when he gets the weight off, don’t go back to feeding what you were – remember that’s what made him fat in the first place! Instead, feed him the amount the bag says for optimum body weight, or even a bit less depending on his age and activity level. Remember, underfeeding a little is better than overfeeding a ton. For this reason, bump up his food slowly, and by small amounts, so that you can tell when he has reached the right amount of food to maintain his weight, but not gain the extra back.
For a healthy dry food packed full of the natural nutrients your dog needs (and none of the stuff he doesn’t) check out Stay Loyal