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Is My Dog Overweight? Diet Advice from Hills Pet Nutrition

It’s Never Too Late To Change The Future For Your Overweight Pet

We hear every day about human obesity but do we realize that pets are becoming overweight as well as their owners? Research shows that nearly 50 per cent of UK pets are obese or overweight and that the life of an overweight pet is shortened by at least two years. In human terms, this means reducing life expectancy by 15 years!

Are all pets in danger of becoming obese?

Scientists think that there are some pets that seem predisposed to obesity by their breed, with the Labrador being a good case in point. But ‘it’s in my genes’ is not always a good defence, as thousands of owners of lean Labradors will testify. Certainly intrinsic factors (those to do with the dog as an individual) can make a difference. The age, reproductive status and gender of a dog can influence how likely they are to become obese. And calories may have to be more carefully controlled in obesity-prone dogs and they need not necessarily be given the opportunity to become obese.

Weight gain could be more of a problem than you think

You may think that your dog or cat gaining a little weight isn’t a serious issue. But even if your pet is as little as 10-20% overweight, they run an increased risk of developing painful conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Overweight dogs and cats are more lethargic and less likely to interact with the outside world. Consider the effects of restricted mobility, pain, lack of external stimulation plus heat stress and it comes as no great surprise to learn that portly pets are also more likely to be bad tempered and even aggressive. That’s no life for a much loved family pet and no fun for the family either.

Weight loss challenge

If you think your pet is at risk of being overweight or obese, the best and first thing to do is to visit your veterinary practice for a weight check, which is often free. Weighing your dog or cat regularly should become a part of regular check-ups. Your vet or vet nurse will help you structure the weight loss programme to help your pet reduce its weight. The weight loss challenge should be made up of a feeding plan, exercise plan and re-check plan.

Feeding plan

Your vet or vet nurse will help you set the target weight for the weight loss challenge. It is normally in the region of 1-2% per week and the use of Pet Weight Record Books is a useful way to evaluate how well your pet has managed to stay on track.

When on the weight loss challenge, watch out your pet does not ‘cheat’ by scavenging or begging for food from other people. By feeding a food that remains nutritionally complete even when calorie intake is reduced and that promotes satiety, your chances of success will definitely increase. Most table scraps are very high in calorie – for instance, feeding your dog a slice of toast is equivalent to a human eating a hamburger. Or, giving your cat a cup of milk is equivalent of a human eating four and a half hamburgers! Therefore, it is recommended to establish a more controlled pattern of feeding your pet when offering food at set meal times.

There are clinically-proven, safe weight loss diets available, like as Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ r/d™, which are formulated to help your pet reach its ideal weight, reduce the risk of disease and make a lifelong improvement to his quality of life. Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d is high in dietary fibre and protein to reduce hunger and discourage begging and supplemented with L-carnitine, a vitamin that helps burn fat and preserve muscles during weight loss. Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d is clinically proven to reduce fat by 22% in just 8 weeks. Easy and effective weight loss – your dog is guaranteed to lose weight in just 8 weeks, or we give you your money back.

Exercise plan

Of course, prevention is better than cure, so be sure to establish good exercise routines. A great way to get overweight pets mobile again is to make exercising them interesting to their owners. That is why Hill’s has partnered with UK tourism boards to find the Top 21 Dog Walks across the UK. Check the winning walks as well as all the nominated ones at www.21topdogwalks.co.uk. The walks are graded according to their suitability for overweight dogs or those with mobility problems – starting with ‘green’ walks that are largely on flat, even ground and of short duration, culminating in ‘red’ walks that include hills or rough terrain.

Helping you to succeed

Your vet or vet nurse will develop for you a re-check plan which will help you see the progress your pet is making in the weight loss challenge. As a reminder of your pet’s regular weigh-ins, you can use stickers from your Pet Weight Record Book and place them into your calendar. You can also track your pet’s weight loss online, get advice and tips on feeding and exercise as well as money off coupons your pet’s weight loss diet when you register your pet at www.hillsweightloss.co.uk.

So, if you are worried about your pet’s weight, talk to your vet or vet nurse. And remember, it is never too late to change the future of your overweight pet.


My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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