Is it being mean to keep them lean?
Dogs have been an integral part of our families for a long time and they are valued just as much as any other members of the family, sometimes more than our human relatives. And as such a highly valued member of our clan they pretty much live their lives like ours, what does that mean?
Well their daily life may follow a similar pattern, what time they awake and or go to sleep, they use everything we do such as the sofa, our beds and anything else they can get their paws on even if we don’t want them to. They go out and about with us whether on errands or for exercise. And when it comes to their daily food intake, yes we know they have their own food but let’s be completely honest with ourselves, they eat ours too….BECAUSE WE GIVE IT TO THEM!!
Now we all love to spoil our dogs as it gives us a sense of satisfaction because it’s one way of us telling our four legged friend that we love them, plus it reaffirms the strong bond between them and us. But are we doing more harm than we realise?
Now pet owners spoiling their pets is nothing new but what owners should realise is that just like us humans the evidence shows us that to significantly aid health and well-being a pet should be kept lean. The stats would show us that the leaner dogs do live longer and current research carried out shows that dogs that were kept leaner with a slightly lower daily intake than their recommended daily calorie allowance lived up to 15% longer. And had lower blood pressure, age related health issues occurred at a much later age and there were fewer outward signs of ageing.
Reduce the weight of an overweight pet
Also another major factor was fewer cases of the development of joint related issues in these dogs, such as dysplasia and orthopaedic disorders. There has long been a connection between pets being overweight and joint related health issues. Overweight animals tend to exercise less and because of the excess weight more damage occurs within the joints.
Not only should pet owners reduce the weight of an overweight pet but they can also use supplements to aid their pets joints, either to reduce an existing health problem or as a preventative measure. Supplements such as Glucosamine can help in such a way.
Owners of pets with arthritis and joint disease may notice limping, stiffness after lying down, excessive licking at painful joints and joint swelling. All of these symptoms decrease the dog’s quality of life and can reduce their ability to interact with the owner’s family.
But keeping your pet lean isn’t always that easy, a study by Banfield Pet Hospitals in 2012 showed that from 2 million dogs treated in its hospitals between 2007-2011 at staggering 1 in 5 was overweight. And according to Ward’s Association for Pet Obesity Prevention more than half the dogs in America a massive 52.5% were declared overweight by their veterinarians in 2012, which should give every single pet owner something to think very seriously about.
What pet owners should also realise is that reducing your dog’s food intake to leaner levels will also have an impact on their finances…..they spend less so have more money.
So why are so many of our dogs overweight? And why don’t pet owners take reasonability for the problem they have created?
50% of dogs are overweight
Well if we look at some of the stats we mentioned earlier if over 50% of dogs are overweight then have our perceptions of what is normal healthy weight have become distorted. Now yes there are many different breeds of dogs some which are very slim such as Greyhounds and whippets and are pet owners assuming that others breeds for example such as Labradors and Retrievers should be much much bigger?
For example in the case of Hayley a Labrador who was a Guide Dog For the Blind and her owner Jean, now Jean was constantly told by nearly most of the people that she met when out working with Hayley that the dog was underweight, or could they give her a treat or snack as she looked hungry. Hayley was in fact the perfect weight and had to be as not only was she a pet but also a working animal as well.
What some pet owners need to do is change their perceptions and realize that the dogs they may surround themselves with are overweight and not that other leaner dogs are malnourished.
Now we all know that dogs are very good at using their big eyes to get what they want, and never is that more true than either when we are eating or they want a treat. How many of us are eating our dinner and the dog sits there wanting some, now the choice is to maybe give them a piece of vegetable not a piece of streaky bacon or a fry. Because as we touched on before the ritual of giving your dog food goes much deeper than the act itself, there is a reaffirming of the bond and the show of love.
And it should be because we love our dogs so much and the fact that they are such an important part of our family, that we should do everything we can to make sure we can spend as many happy and healthy years together as possible.
So we should keep our dog leaner and healthy, and not except them being overweight because we can’t help but feed them too much, or state that they are just big boned. And who knows if our dogs can be leaner and healthy maybe some of us owners can follow our dogs example.
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