Claire has been so busy this month, she hasn’t had chance to write a blog post! So agility trainer Leanne is here to talk about one of her passions: canine weight.
We’re getting into the colder months, and dogs – just like us – have a tendency to put on a bit of winter weight! Weight management is a problem for a lot of dog owners; dogs are natural scavengers and very opportunistic, so a lot of dogs will eat whenever they get the chance, whether they’re hungry or not.
Dogs kept at a healthy weight have a much lower risk of health problems and injuries during their lifetime. It’s particularly important for keeping joints in tip-top shape, but also for dogs with heart conditions or breathing problems.
Weighing your dog is useful, especially for vets who need to assign medication based on weight. But going by touch and visual appearance is usually a more accurate way of judging whether your dog is overweight or not. This applies to all breeds, from Labradors to Jack Russells!
- Run your fingers along the ribcage. How hard do you need to press to feel the dog’s ribs? You should only have to press very lightly!
- Look at your dog from above. Can you see the dog’s ‘waistline’? There should be a visible ‘tuck’ between the ribcage and hips.
On the left is my dog, Rio. Rio is an Australian Shepherd, a breed that has a long coat and a broad chest. Even with all the fluff, you can see on this photo that Rio has a nicely defined tuck-up behind her ribcage and a trim waistline. Rio loves her food and has ambitions to be twice the size she is now! Rio has her food weighed out daily, and I just take out some of her normal kibble to use as training treats. That might mean she gets a smaller breakfast or dinner, but she still eats the same amount. If I need some extra-special treats, I use carrot or dried sweet potato. Unlike sugar-filled fruit, vegetables are especially good as weight management treats.
If you ever have any concerns about your dogs weight, talk to your vet first to ensure your dog is getting the dietary requirements they need!