I worked on this campaign for pet food manufacturer Tails.com to raise awareness of their research on how we feed our pets which appeared in the Sunday People and on Mirror Online.
The nation’s dogs are facing an obesity epidemic as nine out of ten owners don’t know how many calories they should feed their pet.
One in five dog owners can’t tell if their pet is overweight and 13 per cent lie to their vet about how much they feed them.
A survey by tails.com found nearly a third, 29 per cent, don’t measure portions out and nine out of ten owners treat pets when they give them ‘puppy dog eyes.’
And 34 per cent of people quizzed by the pet food manufacturer said they treated their dog more than they did themselves.
Vet Sean McCormack from Tails.com said overfeeding dogs reduces life expectancy and leads to a range of health complaints like diabetes, arthritis and joint problems.
He said: “We are in danger of killing our dogs with kindness. Depending on the breed, overfeeding them can reduce life span from 14 to just ten years of age.
“Portion control is key, and owners need to factor in treats and the calories they contain too. The best person to ask for advice is their vet as they know the individual dog.
“But having a personalised feeding programme that takes into account age, breed, lifestyle, activity levels and whether the dog is neutered can help.
“Meals need to be measured either by a scoop or weighing scales to maintain a healthy weight.”
While vets usually weight dogs at each visit, owners need to focus on three key areas, the ribs, waist and tummy which gives a ‘body condition score’ to identify excess fat.
Sean recommends owners check their pet regularly.
He said: “It’s important to get hands on. First, look at the ribs. Run your fingers over them from head to tail. You should be able to feel them easily with a thin layer of muscle or fat over the ribs. They shouldn’t be very visible, that’s a sign of being underweight.
“Next, look at the tummy from side on. It should tuck up from the bottom of the rib cage up to the groin or hip area, it shouldn’t be hanging down or the same distance from the ground as the chest is.
“Thirdly, look down from above at their waist – the area behind the rib cage, it should be tapering in towards the hips. If it’s wider, and the dog has a barrel shaped appearance, they are overweight.”
In the run up to Christmas, he also warned of the dangers of feeding dogs human food, particularly chocolate, nuts, grapes and raisins which can be toxic for animals.
Just like us, dogs can pile on the lbs having extra tidbits and treats and monitoring food intake and exercise is vital.
Sean said: “It’s tempting to treat your dog and they will eat as much as we give them, but just because they’re giving us puppy dog eyes doesn’t mean they’re hungry.
“We need to try to resist this, and make sure they are walked as regularly as usual so they don’t gain weight as this has a significant impact on their health.”
As an established Pet Journalist, I often work with businesses helping raise awareness of the work they do.
If you’d like to work with me, fill out the contact form or call me on 07900082326.