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Happy Healthy Dogs

We caught up with Shelley Holden, a weight management specialist at ROYAL CANIN®, to find out how we can keep our dogs in tip-top shape.

Seeing our dogs happy is one of the best feelings a dog parent can have, but maintaining a balance between happy and healthy can bring challenges.

Did you know that 59% of dogs in the UK are overweight or obese? At ROYAL CANIN®, pets always come first, which is why they work extremely hard with a team of veterinary experts to create nutritional solutions that are tailored to the individual needs of the dog.

Getting the balance right

“There are many owners who like to give their dog’s treats or rewards, but it is important to get the balance of feeding correct and ensure we don’t overfeed our pets. The treat an owner might give may only seem like a small amount to them but for the dog it may be a high proportion of its daily calorie requirement.”

Shelley’s top tips: Weigh out the daily food using digital measuring scales each mealtime so you can be sure how much food your dog is getting. Using cups or pouring by eye can give different quantities each time leading to overfeeding.

Think of the reason you give a treat to your dog and consider what else you could do such as play, exercise, cuddles or use a lower calorie reward.

Learning about your own dog’s needs

All dogs are different and require food plans based on their age, activity, breed, size and lifestyle. Puppies will need completely different nutrition through their early years to ensure they get the correct vitamins and minerals to help them grow. While adult and senior dogs’ diets may require different nutrients as well as alterations to the amounts of calories they eat. 

There are several ways to find out if your dog is a healthy weight and shape, which Shelley and her team specialises in advising. “When assessing your dog’s body condition you should be able to feel an outline of the ribs using your fingertips. If you have to press or have difficulties feeling the outline of the rib cage then there’s a chance your dog is overweight and we would advise to ask for veterinary advice.”

Healthy Weight Checks

Like humans, dogs can easily gain weight if you don’t keep a close eye on what they are eating or how much exercise they are getting. Regular visits to the vet to check on your dog’s weight and shape are an ideal way to keep on track.

In the ROYAL CANIN® Zone at DogFest 2017 you’ll find a team of nurses and weight management specialists who are available across the weekend to carry out body condition scores, show you how to check your dog’s shape and give advice on changing their diet to support losing weight safely while keeping your dog’s appetite satisfied. 

“We’ve been at DogFest for several years now and it’s so lovely to see dogs and their owners returning each year to show us how their dog has lost weight using the advice we gave them at the festival,” says Shelley.

Exercise and stimulation

As well as eating a suitable balanced diet, dogs also need to be mentally and physically stimulated to stay both healthy and happy. This can be through exercise, movement and play. “A consistent approach to exercise and interaction with your dog works best. Try and do something every single day, whether that’s running, walking, playing, using interactive feeders or even hydrotherapy. Remember to take into consideration if your dog has any other health issues that may affect how they can exercise and if you have any concerns then seek advice with your Veterinary team before commencing any exercise.” recommends Shelley.

As well as the ROYAL CANIN® Pet Healthy Weight Check, you can also catch the team in the Chill Out Zone, a place for both you and your dog to catch a few minutes’ rest and a drink of water while catching up with ROYAL CANIN® weight management specialists. 

ROYAL CANIN® are official partners of the RCVS Knowledge Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine group in 2016. For more information about ROYAL CANIN®, click here

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