Whether your dog has recently lost weight, gained weight, or you're looking to make sure it stays as fit as possible, it's important to feel confident that you're doing the right things to keep their weight healthy and stable.
It can be difficult to resist your dog if they beg or whine, and many owners find themselves using treats as a way to manage behaviour. However, if you want to make sure your dog stays healthy, it's crucial you maintain good practices in the home – and you encourage all other members of your family to do the same.
What's a healthy weight for your dog?
The best way to find out the healthiest weight for your dog is to visit your vet. They'll be able to tell you the most appropriate weight for your dog according to their breed, gender, age and several other factors. Often, a healthy weight is identified as the weight your dog was before they became obese – but this can be hard to define, particularly if your dog has been overweight for a long time or since they were a puppy.
Some specific factors could make your dog predisposed to weight gain, and therefore maintaining a healthy weight is even more important. There are several breeds which are more likely to gain weight than others, including Beagles, Pugs, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Scottish Terriers and Saint Bernards. Female dogs are also more likely to gain weight, and if your dog has been neutered they are more likely still; the frequency of obesity in neutered male and female dogs can be twice that of unneutered dogs.
Feeding your dog to maintain its weight
If your dog has recently gained or lost weight, and is now at its recommended size, there are two options for continuing to feed them. You can stay with the same food as used during their weight-loss or weight-gain process, increasing or decreasing the quantities as necessary to maintain their weight, or you can choose a food with a higher energy density and retain the same quantity.
It's best to consult a vet when before starting this process to make sure any quantities are moderated appropriately. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of action, as well as which specific foods are best for your dog.
The energy density and calorific value of their food is an important factor to take into account, and the food should also include high protein content to support muscle mass, with a moderate fat content to help avoid weight gain. Some foods even contain a unique blend of fibre which helps your dog feel fuller without eating bigger portions.
Sticking to good feeding behaviours with your dog
You should rigorously maintain good eating practices for your dog so they have the best possible chance of maintaining a healthy weight. Feed them in the same place, from the same bowl, at the same time so they become used to specific mealtimes. Don't give them scraps or give in to begging, and swap treats for kibbles taken from their daily allowance. It's also a good idea to weigh them once a month and go for regular check-ups to get professional advice from your vet.
With the right mindset, you will be able to support your dog in maintaining a healthy weight and enjoyable lifestyle. For more ideas on how to help manage your dog's weight, speak to your vet who'll be happy to advise you.