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More on the Importance of Weight Management


Introduction

Dogapy Rehabilitation’s first blog is titled ‘Why is Weight Management Important?’. This blog expands on the initial blog by providing more information, along with repeating some of the original information posted. When working as a Registered Veterinary Nurse doing weight clinics, I will see many dogs that are over or under weight. This is does not mean the dog’s owners are neglecting or mistreating their pet, it is simply lack of information. Take a Labrador for example, everyone says they are always overweight so there is nothing to worry about. Or Greyhounds people say the opposite they are meant to be thin. Both these statements are true but there are extremes that can be avoided with good weight management.


Why is Weight Management Important?

As with humans, weight management is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Obesity is classed as a form of malnourishment, as the body is not getting all the nutrients it needs in the correct quantities to run at its optimum level – known as a homeostatic state.

An ideal body condition score is not just how much they weigh but how they look and feel. An ideal body condition score will be different for each animal as they are all individuals – no one size fits all! As a basic guide, your pet should have a slight hourglass figure, going in slightly at the hips. The ribs should be felt over the chest with only a small amount of pressure being needed. If the ribs are visible and no pressure is needed, they are likely too thin. If a lot of pressure is needed, they will most likely need to lose some weight, however there will be some breed variations (for example a Greyhound has a different body structure compared to a Labrador).


Why is Too Much Weight Unhealthy?

As with humans, there are many associated health risks with obesity, ranging from diabetes to osteoarthritis and exercise intolerance, as well as making any medical procedure more difficult.


When an animal gains too much weight it affects the whole body. Not only does it add extra pressure on the heart, causing exercise intolerance, but it puts pressure on the joints, making it harder to move – a vicious cycle!


It will also change the way an animal holds itself as they try to disperse the extra pressure evenly. This will then lead to compensatory issues and associated pain. The diagram below gives you a quick reference guide on how the cycle will affect your dog.



How Can Correct Nutrition Help?

To help manage your pet’s weight, they should be on the appropriate life stage and breed diet. For example:

· An older Labrador should be on a senior large breed diet.

· A young Jack Russel should be on a puppy or junior small dog diet.


There are also some specific weight management diets available, which can be provided by your vets and guidance given by the veterinary nurses who are all trained in nutrition.


Providing the correct nutrition ensures they are getting all the nutrients they need at the right time in their life. Senior diets will have extra joint support and puppy food will have nutrients to help with growth.


Each food is different in how much should be fed and what breeds they class as what size. There is always a feeding guide at the back of the bag which will give you guidance as well as a customer phone number to call if you are still unsure.


Maintaining a healthy weight will help keep your pet as healthy, active and pain free for as long as possible as well as helping to protect their joints in their senior years.

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