Over the past four years, pet obesity has steadily risen and the signs of how this has taken its toll are starting to show. A recent study claimed that there has been a 900% increase in diabetes as a direct result of obesity.
But diabetes is just one of the possible conditions an overweight dog might suffer from. Heart conditions and the impact on joints are also concerns, and of course there's the direct impact it can have on the longevity of a dog.
But, obesity is solvable and not everything is, so take heart if you are worried. By investigating steps to fix, you're already on the path to helping your dog. It could be as simple as switching to a more natural diet with fewer carbs, or it could be a combination of diet and exercise is needed to help get your pet's health and wellbeing on the inside and out back on track.
We asked Michael Deichert, a member of the support team at BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK for his thoughts and insights on the subject to see what we could learn.
What should you do first if you think your dog is overweight?
An enormous number of dogs in Europe are overweight. But many of their owners are in denial about it. The thought process of 'my dog is a little bit overweight' can someday maybe turn into obesity. Vets talk about a beginning obesity, if the dog weighs at least 10% more than its normal weight. But there's also the risk of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
One simple way to check if your dog might be overweight is to place your hands on the side of their chest. You should be able to feel his or her ribs. If not, this can be a sign that your dog is overweight. But of course it's good to pay a visit to your local vet if you are concerned.
This chart released by the PFMA in the UK as part of pet obesity awareness campaign can also help give a visual.
Typically, the main reason a dog is overweight is due to their being fed the wrong diet for them or their activity levels, too many treats or too little exercise. Or perhaps a combination of all.
So these are the points you can definitely work on with your four-legged friend. Make sure that there's enough exercise and that there's an appropriate diet. In my opinion, the most advisable one is a natural, raw diet.
So first check and then change!
Can a more natural, raw diet benefit dogs who are overweight? If so, how?
Yes, of course. A raw diet is a natural diet. The today's dog as a descendant of the wolf and although the external appearances of wolves to today's domestic dog are easy to see, the dog has kept the species determining characteristics.
Just as the wolf did, the dog also belongs to the carnivorous group – he is a meat eater (but not exclusively). So, it is very natural to feed raw.
The B.A.R.F abbreviation stands for 'Bones and Raw Food' or 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food' and with a more natural, raw diet it gives dogs the possibility to consume a diet as it was originally meant to be by nature, as their ancestors did.
With an online 'B.A.R.F. Calculator' (we have one on our homepage here) you can calculate the daily nutritional needs and possibilities for your pet.
Nowadays dog food often contains too much sugar, too much grain or even chemical additives. Some might say it's the 'fast food' of the dog food industry.
B.A.R.F is good for more vitality. If you feed raw, you'll see that there are numerous benefits like a stronger immune system, an improved muscular system, stronger tendons and ligaments just to name a few. So if the diet is balanced, your dog can get back in a good shape.
Aside from diet, what tips and advice would you give to a dog owner who is worried their pet is overweight?
As I said above it's of absolute importance that a dog's lifestyle is active and suitable for their age and breed. It's also a great way to make use of the summer months to develop a routine in the warmer climate where you and your dog can get out and about.
You should also try to make their diet the main focus of their daily intake, so limit treats because it has to be in proportion.
Frozen vegetables can be a great way to give a treat and keep it healthy, for example.You also can reward with B.A.R.F. Procts, like small pieces of dried meat, cattle scalp or chicken necks for example. Those treats beware of plaque and prevent the formation of tartar.
What is the best way to change diet if you're currently feeding say, dry, when switching to a BARF diet?
Usually, a change in diet can be made without any difficulties. However, incase your dog is highly sensitive, a gradual switch makes more sense. The procedure is quite simple: add a small amount of meat to the dog's current dry food and increase the percentage of meat per day, so you switch the balance from mostly dry and some meat to mostly meat and some dry, before eliminating the dry altogether. It is important to make sure that the total ration stays the same.
In general, the daily ration of raw food for an adult dog should be 2% of his body weight divided into two meals.
What advice would you give to anyone considering trying raw to make sure they're fully prepared?
Inform yourself, ask people who already have experience with raw feeding. Use the internet and have a look at the social media groups for example which share their experience. You also can ask a vet what he/she thinks about it.
There are also 'starter packages' which contain everything you need to start with raw feeding.
How much does it cost on average to feed a small, medium or large dog breed with BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK?
Raw feeding with our ranges is designed to be a cost-effective way to give your dog everything they need because you get a premium quality deep frozen pet food products for a really good price. And because of the BARF calculator on our home page you can calculate the daily needs of your four-legged friend. There are not only 'three groups' of dogs, but they are all individual and have individual needs according to their weight and activity, just like us humans.
Michael, to help us put a face to the name we'd love to ask you some quick fire questions, are you up for it?
Yes, of course.
What three words sums up the ethos of BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK
Premium quality food!
Describe a typical working day for you, how does it begin?
Get up early, work long and enjoy every second! Because when you got a job that you like, it doesn't really feel like working . It's lovely to do something that brings joy to our beloved pets!
What three items do you never leave home without?
Cheerfulness, a smile and my mobile. Except Monday mornings (laughs).
Finish the following sentences:
a dog is...a friend you should respect and care for.
my job/business is...awesome!
Finally, what's next for BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK
Of course, we'd like to consolidate our position on the English market and want to deliver more of our great food for the joy of your pet.
Many thanks, Michael!
Michael is a member of the BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK Support Team. His task is to help you with questions about the BARF products. He loves his job and really likes reading books, listening to music, and of course pets.
Have you tried raw? If you have any advice for fellow dog owners considering switching please share by commenting below – we'd love to hear from you!