Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes and we love them all for whom they are. However, I feel that sometimes the benefits of keeping your dog lean and fit are overlooked when it comes to arthritis management. I know first hand the temptation to drop your dog a tasty treat; although those big brown eyes are difficult to resist, allowing your dog to live a long, comfortable, pain free life is by far the kinder alternative.
Reduction of weight, in overweight dogs, allows faster recovery times, improves comfort and reduces pain. In addition, overweight dogs are more prone to diabetes, heart disease and breathing conditions.
1 in 5 dogs are affected by osteoarthritis in the UK and weight loss is a useful tool to reduce severity of clinical signs, such as lameness, discomfort and stiffness. 20% of claims to insurance companies have been related to obesity and a significant proportion of these have been for osteoarthritis. We have evidence that in the human species, obese women are 4 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis than a woman of a healthy weight. 5% weight loss has been proven to improve the mobility of overweight dogs. Weight loss is therefore an accessible, affordable and effective tool to help improve the comfort and lifespan of your dog.
Reduce Food Intake
Cut down, and ideally stop feeding, treats!
Bake and freeze butternut squash/pumpkin, as a low-sugar treat alternative (even carrots contain sugar!) or use pieces from a daily kibble ration as treats throughout the day.
No human food is necessary to maintain your dog on a healthy diet.
Seek advice from a nutritionist to ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount and weigh this amount out daily. Any treats should form a part of this ration!
Use trickle/slow feeders (as displayed), for meals, or scatter meals on the floor, therefore increasing the length of meal time, reducing the speed your dog eats his/her meals and keeping them fuller for longer!
Feeding little and often (small, regular meals) reduces hunger experienced throughout the day.
Short frequent walks (little and often is key).
Consider attending hydrotherapy as a great form of low impact exercise.
Increase interaction within feeding regime by using interactive toys, or simply scattering food on the floor in order to increase exercise.