Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it were only about ideals of beauty, dog owners would not have to worry about the figure of their protégés. Unfortunately, being overweight is bad for your dog’s health. The extra pounds can cause joint damage, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, there is a suspicion that Moppelchen on four paws are more prone to skin diseases and are more susceptible to infections. Overall, being overweight is said to greatly reduce the life expectancy of dogs. Some scientists estimate that a fat dog lives around two years shorter than a fellow with a dream figure.
But when is a dog too fat? The absolute weight says little about this. Because a muscular Rottweiler male can weigh 15 kg more than a delicately built bitch of the same breed without being overweight. So-called Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is more suitable for determining the individual body condition and nutritional status. In this procedure, the dog’s figure is assessed on the basis of defined body characteristics. The BCS scale ranges from point one “emaciated to skin and bones” to point nine “obesity”.
Dogs with an ideal figure are on point four or five on the scale and have the following characteristics:
But not all dogs whose figure deviates from this ideal are overweight. In rare cases, the increase in girth can also result from an illness such as Cushing’s disease. Therefore, you should have the dog examined by a veterinarian before starting the diet. You can then work out a diet and training plan together with the vet.
Under no circumstances should you put your four-legged friend on a zero diet. Such radical cures usually only bring short-term success and are also harmful to health. Because not only the fat reserves, but also the muscles are broken down.
As a rule of thumb, the dog should lose approx. 2% of its body weight per week, i.e. around 400g for a dog weighing 20kg. To do this, the calorie intake is reduced to around 60% of what the dog would have with its ideal weight.
An example: The ideal weight of the four-legged diet candidate is 25kg. A dog weighing 25kg has an average energy requirement of 1130kcal. In order to lose weight, the animal should only receive 680 kcal per day.
In fact, these values are only for orientation, because depending on posture, movement or body condition the dog may need a little more or fewer calories. It is best to weigh the dog once a week and adjust the amount of energy to the success of the diet.
In principle, you can reduce the amount of food you are used to or feed a special diet. Nowadays nutrition experts recommend a diet with a special diet with reduced calories. Because it ensures that the dog is supplied with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs. In addition, diet food is more satiating than normal food, so that the dog does not have to suffer from hunger while losing weight.
But no matter how good and balanced the diet is, it is of no use if the dog keeps getting a little something on the side. Instead of a treat for a well-solved task, you would rather play with your dog as a reward – you kill two birds with one stone: you save unnecessary calories and give your dog exercise. If it is not possible without a culinary bribe, subtract the calories contained in the treat from the daily ration.