Read time: 6 mins
30 Sep 2019
If your pooch is looking a little bit chubby around the edges, you’ve come to the right place. It is really easy for weight to creep up on dogs, especially when they’re older and less active. However, it is vital to keep your dog at a healthy weight to ensure that they live a long, love-fuelled life.
Not everyone knows what the ideal dog body shape should look like. Fortunately, there is a quick test you can do at home to check if your dog is overweight.
Look at them from the top down — they should have a figure-of-eight shape with a clearly defined waist. Grab them for a cuddle (we'll wait) and run your hands along their sides. You should be able to feel their ribs easily. If not, it could be a sign that their puppy fat is hanging around a bit longer than it’s supposed to.
Other signs to look out for include: reluctance to exercise (and walking slowly when they do), excessive panting and tiredness.
There are a number of different factors which can contribute to weight gain in dogs, such as:
• Calorie intake greater than needed
• Insufficient exercise
• Too many treats / being given table food
Another important thing to bear in mind is ensuring that any medical conditions, which may cause weight gain, are ruled out. Your Vet can carry out a health assessment on your pooch to help you determine exactly what’s causing them to put on the pounds.
Lots of innocent things can cause dogs to gain weight. Luckily there are plenty of ways to help your four-legged friend get down to a healthy weight. And, just like in humans, it mostly comes down to diet and exercise.
• Add an additional daily walk into their routine, or extend their current walk duration
• Play activity-led games, such as fetch, agility tasks or a treat treasure hunt
• Ensure that they are eating a diet rich in protein to keep them fuller for longer
• Reduce their treat intake*
* We know that this can be hard when they’re so well-behaved, so perhaps instead of giving them a full treat divide each one up into a few smaller pieces.
Even if you're doing everything by the book, the feeding guidelines on shop-bought dog food can be confusing. This is because they're one size fits all, and every dog is different. Everything from breed to personality can affect how much your pooch needs to eat.
Simply put, the mechanism to weight loss in dogs is no different to us humans, calorie intake needs to be less than expenditure. Although, trying to explain to your dog why they aren’t allowed that extra treat after dinner can prove to be a difficult task.
You need to reduce your dog’s food intake as well as considering exactly what is in their food. It is better to opt for food with low-fat meats, such as turkey or chicken, as opposed to something fattier like lamb. Ensuring that their food is packed out with plenty of vegetables is also important.
Many dog food companies pack out their food with unnecessary ingredients like cereals which have little to no nutritional value, ingredients such as legumes will provide just as much energy without the high calorie price tag.
When you sign up for Butternut Box, we ask you questions about your dog — like their activity levels, size, and body shape — so we can customise their meals. It also means we can portion up your pet's food into the perfect meal sizes, so you don't need to worry about over (or under) feeding. We will help to make sure that your pooch is burning off more energy than they're taking in, helping them to shed excess fat.
Cutting the portion size is all well and good, but it's important to make sure your dog is still getting all of the nutrients that they need to thrive. At Butternut Box our meals are all made from ingredients you could easily pick up in your local supermarket or health store. It's packed with vitamins and free from any nasties, like artificial flavourings, sweeteners, or colours. This means fewer empty calories and plenty of nourishment.
If you tell us at sign-up that your dog is a little bit chubby, we'll send you our lighter options, such as Gobble Gobble Turkey, Chicken You Out and Ready Steady Veggie, all of which have less than 6% fat.
Excess weight is recognised as the most common nutritional disorder in dogs, affecting around 40% of the UK dog population.
At Butternut Box, we wanted to understand how effective our food can be in helping dogs to reach a healthy weight, whilst ensuring that they are still getting all of the essential daily nutrients.
The study followed 12 dogs with a body condition score (BCS) of 7 out of 9 or above, recognised as overweight, over a 16-week period.
Each dog attended a health consultation with our in-house Vet Ciara. Their daily calorie intake was calculated, in addition to a comprehensive nutrition plan which outlined their current weight, target weight and recommended low-fat meals from Butternut Box. The pet parents were provided with ongoing support, as a Butternut Box customer would be, and weigh-ins were conducted every four weeks to track progress.
It is worth noting that owners were advised not to change their treat-giving habits or exercise levels, so that we could draw conclusions from diet alone.
The results showed that Butternut Box is an effective way to help your dog lose weight due to our proprietary algorithms that account for a dog’s age, weight, body condition score, treat behaviour and activity level. This calculates daily feeding requirements to the closest 50 calories.
Some of the highlights from the study include:
• 11 out of 12 dogs lost weight
• 9 out of 12 dogs dropped at least 2 BCS sizes
• 9 out of 12 dogs reached their target healthy weight
• 100% of participants found the study easy to follow
• 100% of participants would recommend Butternut to dogs who need support with weight management
• All dogs showed increased energy levels
You can read the full research report here.
At Butternut Box, we are always striving for better. This means regularly carrying out critical research to further our understanding of dog health, so that we can produce the best possible nutrition products.