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Help keep your hungry dog a healthy weight

If you’re struggling to keep your dog’s weight in check, why not consider using their love of food to help develop your relationship?  Here’s our top tips to helping keep your hungry dog a healthy weight.

There may well be a biological reason that we see more overweight Labradors than other breeds of dogs.  Around one in four Labradors apparently have a gene variant that leaves them feeling constantly hungry with no ‘off-switch’ when they’re full.  But it’s not all bad news, in fact Labradors have lots of great traits that make them good assistance dogs and companion animals: they are often very people-orientated and seek out human contact, they are extremely versatile and adaptable and while it’s true that they are often highly motivated by food it also makes them easier to train and learn new things as they love a food reward.

How much is too much?

Know how much food your dog needs per day – feeding guidelines should be available on the packaging of your food, but don’t forget this is only a guide.  You’ll also need to think about other factors such as the breed of dog, your dog’s age and the amount of activity that they do.

A good measure

Measure your dog’s daily allowance of food and take out what you think you’ll need for rewards throughout the day, that way you can use part of your dog’s food allowance for walks, training and playtime.

Read the label

Always read the label – you may be surprised at how calorific some dog treats can be – even the ones that say they’re healthy or good for teeth.

Five a Day?

Fruit (except grapes, sultanas, avocado, rhubarb and raisins) and vegetables can be a great way of giving low calorie treats to a hungry dog – often the crunchier the better – apples (not the pips) and carrots are perfect.

Read more about common foods that are poisonous to dogs.

Games to play

Using games and puzzles with hidden treats can be a great way for your dog to work for his food.  Try hiding kibble in a cardboard tube or concealing treats around a room so that your dog has to use his nose to help him find them.

Keep moving!

Just like us, exercise plays a huge part in battling the bulge, daily dog walks that really lift your dog’s heart rate for at least 20 minutes will help to ensure that your dog maintains a healthy weight.

Regular weight checks 

Regularly checking your dog’s general health, including their weight, helps to keep you aware of their general health and make any changes to their diet if it’s required.  We educate and support all our assistance dog owners so they know what’s healthy for their dog.  Your vet can be a great source of support if you need an extra bit of help to maintain a healthy weight for your dog, many have regular weigh-ins or advice to help your dog to slim down. Find out how to give your dog a quick five minute health check.

So if ignoring your dog’s pleas for food are proving difficult, don’t forget there are ways to give him a treat without adding to his waistline.  What’s more, using treats as rewards during training, walks or play can actually work to strengthen the bond between you.

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