Canine obesity. It can be easy to overlook your dog’s increasing size. There’s just more to love, right? Aren’t our dogs lucky that they always look good to us? Well.. maybe not! We’ve become accustomed to seeing our dogs get larger and larger. Meanwhile canine obesity is one of the biggest health problems facing dogs. Sure, they are still beautiful. But their health is being jeopardised. Canine naturopath Lyndall Pinchen shares with us her thoughts on canine obesity and how to help your dog stay fit.
Each year our population seems to be growing larger, with obesity now at epidemic levels.
It is no surprise then that we are seeing ever increasing levels of obesity on our dogs. When I was treating people in a clinic situation, it was common to see overweight children coming from overweight parents. And now as I work with dogs, I am seeing this same trend. This is by no means a judgement…merely my observation, and I find that much of this comes from a lack of education into how to properly feed and exercise our best friends. We all love our dogs so much so, that sometimes we are killing them with kindness….too many inappropriate treats, commercial foods and a lack of the right type of exercise are the main issues that are causing our dogs to become overweight.
In the wild, dogs are naturally lean- think of dingoes! To most people, these dogs appear to be underweight, but in actual fact, most of them are at an ideal weight . Dogs are also meant to be active and so, it is unnatural for them to want to lie around all day, unless of course they are unwell.
There are of course breeds that tend to be more ‘lazy’ than others, but as a general rule, we want our dogs to be lean and well muscled, with high energy and vitality levels. While pet food manufacturers may want us to believe that their particular food will help our dogs achieve all this, the reality is that our dogs require a diet that is biologically appropriate to their physiology. Imagine living on Macdonalds every day, and expecting to feel fit, healthy and at your ideal weight. It just wouldn’t happen! And commercial food can have the same impact on your dog. Dogs are both carnivores and omnivores- this means that they can eat both meat and plant matter. However, it DOES NOT mean they have a requirement for grains and if you look at the ingredients in most commercial foods, they have a high percentage of….you guessed it, grains! Some brands can even be up to 75% grain content.
So what does this mean for our dogs?? If any of you have ever looked to lose weight, you have probably been told that you need to reduce your carbs (carbohydrates). For different reasons this also applies to our dogs/.our dogs. If your dog is starting to gain weight, or is already overweight/obese, dietary modification will be a necessary part of helping them to lose this weight. And the first thing to do is look at the carbohydrate (grain) content. Dogs do not have the ability (or the need) to consume and digest grains, and while you will always get some dogs who can seem to tolerate eating grains, the majority of dogs have great difficulty in digesting them. As dogs tend to use fat as a main source of fuel, along with protein, grains can therefore lead to weight gain and other conditions such digestive and immune imbalances, potential diabetes, and inflammatory processes throughout the body.
Consider also moving your dog to a raw, grain free diet . This is one of the easiest ways I know to keep a dog lean and well muscled. The quality protein and fats that such a diet provides ( along with lots of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and other essential nutrients) will assist your dog to gradually lose weight and increase muscle tone. Of course, it may also help resolve other associated conditions. Look at focussing on raw meaty bones, muscle meats, fish, raw eggs, offal, vegetables and fruit (pureed or pulped).
Be mindful also of the type and amount of treats you are providing your dog. Sometimes these can contain a high calorie load, and it is easy to forget to take them into consideration when working out your dog’s daily intake. Splitting the amount of food into smaller more frequent meals, can help your dog’s metabolism, so this may also be helpful.
In terms of exercise, the main thing is that dog’s need to be ACTIVE! Whether it be a game of ball or Frisbee, a walk or run, may be a swim at the beach….whatever works into your lifestyle. For dogs that are very overweight of course, you must start them out slowly and always have your vet check them before embarking on any new diet or exercise program.
This article was contributed by Lyndall Pinchen of Canine Vitality a naturopathic health clinic for our furry mates in Cedar Grove QLD. If you’re out of the local area no worries! Canine Vitality offers online and phone consultations to help sort out your canine health issues. T: 0417 710 882 M: 0417 710 882 E: lyndall email@example.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caninevitality