By Romita Dey
Like human obesity, dog obesity is a real problem faced by many pet parents, today. Simple things like not finding time to take out your dog for the daily walk or feeding leftovers can lead to your dog becoming obese in no time!
This is especially true in case of Labrador Retrievers; this breed is most susceptible obesity, often leading to diabetes if they don’t get their daily exercise and if their diet is not supervised.
Why little Obie became so Obese
A little obese dachshund named Obie made headlines in 2012, when he was declared the world’s most obese dog! Everyone wanted to know how Obie had become so fat and more importantly, could he lose weight? And lose weight he did, so much so that he attained celebrity status; today, he has his own Facebook page of 2 millon followers! But how did Obie become so fat at the first place? Let us find out.
Obie belonged to an elderly couple who showered him with as much food as they could. His weight went up to as much as 35 kilograms (two times more than the average weight of a dachshund) and he could not even walk. The reasons were simple. Obie was not getting any exercise and eating too much food, including leftovers and table scraps.
Road to weight loss
Obie was taken into the home of Nora Vanatta, a certified veterinary technician and his present pet parent. He was fed a diet high in protein and low in fat. He ate just 500 calories in a day and didn’t exercise because he was too fat to do so. It took him less than a year to lose all the excess weight.
If your dog has gained a few kilos, then you can easily bring it down by feeding him or her the right food. Here is what two pet parents do to keep their dog’s weight in check.
Vet-speak: “Cut down an overweight dog’s diet by 60%!”
Kolkata-based vet Dr Umesh Chaudhuri shares his perspective: “By virtue of working with many dogs on a regular basis, I have come across many overweight, if not obese dogs. Some pet owners were aware of the condition but most of them were not. I’ve tried to make them aware but surprisingly most of them think that their dog is just “healthy” and is being given “lots of love”. This is especially the case with breeds, which were bred for a working purpose. Ideally an overweight dog’s food intake should be reduced to about 60% of what he/she eats regularly. As a vet, I have tried to help dog owners by giving them specific diet charts. However, giving a diet chart and making them follow the same are two different things altogether! We certainly need more awareness.”
- Order healthy food options! Packaged Food to reduce obesity
Say ‘No’ to scraps at dinner!
Noida resident Rishi Biswas, 22, is a doting parent to a rescued female Labrador, Goldy and a male Bhutia Mix, Monster. He feeds them only home-made food and does not believe in feeding them leftovers or table scraps. According to him “the more puppy faces they make for food, the stricter I get”. Along with all this, he takes them out on walks three times a day!
A treat every now and then
Sampriti Dutta Singh, an ardent dog lover from Lucknow, resides with her husband and her two rescued dogs, Bebe, a cocker spaniel and Choti, a Rampur Hound mix. Both of them are given Royal Canin dog food and treats from time to time. When asked about whether her dogs ever had any weight issues, Sampriti had to say this, “If I ever see any of them gaining any excess weight, I put them on a strict diet of cucumber and mangoes only.”
Top tips to help your dog lose weight
- Cut out all types of commercial treats from his or her diet (they can always be added back later)
- Give your dog healthy treats like broccoli, apples, green beans, mangoes and carrots
- Start walking your dog, regularly. If your dog is not used to being exercised, he won’t be happy with this new activity. However, he will be happy to comply after he understands that you mean business.
- Play fetch with your dog everyday for at least 15 minutes
- Monitor your dog’s weight once every week
- All food products should contain 50% meat and 50% vegetables.
Checklist! Buy healthy dog food
- It should be completely free from grains and wheat.
- There should be no cheap “fillers” in the product
- Low quality dog food products will always have meat at the top of the list, followed by fillers and by-products.
- Avoid products containing harmful chemicals and preservatives like Ethoxyquin, BHT and BHA.
- Go for premium dog food brands instead of economy ones
Romita Dey is a blogger and ardent dog lover based in Kolkata. Tweet her @darklife