Some breeds of dog are more likely to become overweight than others – the greedy breeds like Labrador-Retrievers, for example. Often they just don’t get enough exercise and their owners overfeed them – some dogs steal food as well. We always tell the story about our late yellow lab and how he once stole a whole cooked turkey off the kitchen table. On different occasions, our current chocolate lab has stolen half of a friend’s strawberry pavlova cake, a tray of freshly-cooked sausages, and a whole dish of sushi complete with wasabi sauce!
Dog food manufacturers tend to tell people to feed dogs more than is actually needed, with adverts showing food portions as big as a dog’s head. Human food is not great for dogs either, so if you want to give your dog leftovers from your Sunday roast dinner, make sure you do this at your dog’s mealtime and not between times, making sure you cut back on the quantity of his or her usual dog food to go with it. And do not give them the bones, as cooked bones are dangerous for dogs because they can splinter in the intestine. If you’re getting more than one poop per meal then you’re feeding them too much!
Which ‘Human’ Foods Are OK?
Some human food is toxic for dogs, this includes grapes (kidney damage), raisons (ditto), onions and garlic (destroys red blood cells), caffeine (poisonous), sweetcorn, chocolate (deadly), apple pips, avocado, macadamia nuts (deadly), candy and sugary food (liver damage), fried foods, raw eggs, dairy products (digestive upsets), raw tomatoes, salt, alcohol (would you give alcohol to a baby?). Incidentally, don’t give your dog any human drugs; Ibuprofen for example, can cause kidney failure in a dog. And cat food is a no-no, too, as it’s poisonous for dogs.
People tend to overdo the ‘treats’ they give their dogs. Treats are great for training, and for getting your dog to do what you want – such as coming to you when you them, and as a reward. If you’re giving these, make sure they are small and that you cut down slightly on the mealtime food to balance this out. Treats for dogs are just like candy for humans in terms of calories and nutrition, with the result that these days more than 50% of American dogs are overweight.
How Active is Your Dog?
Working breeds are traditionally meant to go hunting and retrieving (spaniels, Labrador-Retrievers and pointers are a few of these breeds), pull sleds (husky), herd cattle and sheep (border collies, German and Australian shepherds, mountain rescue (Bernese mountain dog, Pyrenean mastiff), hunt rats and other vermin (terriers).
But instead, many fatties lie on a sofa or on an extra large pet bed all day long, and are occasionally let out in the yard – without proper walks, hikes, or playtime. They just don’t get enough exercise.
Fat dogs are more likely to go on to have issues with their joints – such as arthritis and hip problems, and even organ failure and breathing problems. Dogs – especially smaller ones – can live well into their teens, but sadly many suffer from having too much food and too little exercise.