According to Dr. Wara, new research from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and the University of Liverpool shows that overweight dogs are more likely to have shortened life spans, compared to dogs at ideal body condition. And we're even seeing this in puppies; at six months old, 21% of puppies are already overweight.
The good news, says Dr. Wara, is that this is a trend we can change, and that pet owners can increase the odds of their pets having a long and healthy life by adopting a few simple, easy-to-follow habits
Know what healthy weight looks like. Check out the puppy growth charts developed by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (https//www.waltham.com/resources/waltham-growth-charts/) and get a clear understanding of body condition at an early age.
Use a gram scale. Measuring pet food with a gram scale is far more accurate than a measuring cup. In fact, a standard measuring cup can result in overestimating portions by as much as 80%.
Consider a weight loss diet. Veterinary therapeutic weight loss formulations are enhanced with essential nutrients, and while they restrict calories, they ensure appropriate nutrition. Your vet can guide you to a suitable diet.
Limit the treats. Keeping treats to less than 10% of your pet's calorie intake for the day means a reduced risk of weight gain, and safeguards against an unbalanced feeding plan. Treats include all snacks, training treats, supplements, and foods used to administer medications.
Reward with affection. If your pet is begging, consider an alternative to food such as affection or playtime. A recent fMRI study of dogs reacting to various rewards showed that social interaction was at least as rewarding as food.
The benefits of having a pet in our lives are now well proven, so efforts made in keeping them around as long as possible are a sound investment. Pet owners can help promote healthy habits using #HealthyHabits on Facebook and Instagram from July to September. As Dr. Wara explains, weight management isn't just about pounds lost. It's also about the number of years gained.