Is it ok for a dog to carry a few extra pounds?
The answer may surprise you! According to a new study out of the University of Glasgow and published in the May issue of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, overweight canines differ from their fit counterparts in regards to two areas in their health related quality of life(HRQL).
The study used a mobile app to survey 174 dog owners in the United Kingdom. Non obese dogs were compared to obese dogs across four “domains” of HRQL. The domains were energetic/enthusiastic, happy/content, active/comfortable, and calm/relaxed. The study uses the Body Condition Score scale below to define obese vs non obese
The study found statistically significant differences in two of the 4 domains when they compared obese pups to non obese pups. As a dog gets higher on the BCS scale above, there scores fall in the energetic/enthusiastic and active/comfortable domains!
So what do we do if we find that our dog is overweight?
There are two major areas of a dog’s life that will have the most effect on his fitness level. The first, how much he eats, is easily managed by using the tools over at dogfoodadvisor.com.
First use this tool to get a handle on what the ideal weight for your dog should be. Even if you have a mixed breed, the chart featured at the bottom of the page will help you to get a good approximation.
After you have an ideal weight for your dog, use the dog food calculator to figure out exactly how much your dog needs to eat on a daily basis to hit their weight loss goals!
The second area that will have a major impact on your dog’s fitness level is exercise. Depending on the breed, long walks may not be enough to help your dog maintain a good level of fitness. If you have a busy schedule or other issues that prevent you from spending alot of time exercising your pup, do not worry! There are a few tools that you can use to maximize the time you do have.
The best tool for the job, in my humble opinion, is a flirt pole. It is easy to make, dogs love them, and it involves very little effort to use. This tool alone can fill the gap that walks by themselves will sometimes leave.
Some other options for supplementary exercise for dog are the ifetch which is basically a robot that plays fetch with your dog when you are not around. Also there are treadmills specifically designed for dogs, but they can be really pricey. While both of those options are good, my favorite option by far is getting involved in dog sports. Agility equipment is inexpensive, a blast for dogs, and it helps to strengthen the bond you have with your girl. Doing agility also helps a dog in other areas of training as well. Best of all it doesn’t involve much effort on the handlers part. If you have the time on the weekends, I would highly recommend giving agility a shot!
For some more resources on getting into dog sports you can visit the agility and sport section of Karen Pryor’s clicker training(positive reinforcement) website. Karen Pryor agility and sports
There are plenty of other ideas to keep your dog in tip top shape, I would love to hear from you about what techniques you use to have a happy, healthy, puppy.