As all Lab owners will know Labradors love their food! They can sleep through armageddon, but open the biscuit tin and they’ll be there quicker than you can say “digestive”
Much as we love to treat our dogs it does them no favours to let the pounds pile on. Excess weight can lead to breathing, digestive and joint problems and can result in many more trips to the vet – not good for pets or owners.
A recent survey discovered that Labradors kept within an ideal weight range lived, on average, two years longer than those that were overweight.
Two more years with your best friend – what better reason for acting now!
Here’s some of the things you can do –
Do more with your dog. Give your dog more exercise – no excuses, it’s your responsibility – the dog can’t take itself for a walk. If you can’t do it, find someone else. Get them off the lead and running around as much as possible. Play in the garden and in the house too. Try something different – swimming or an agility class.
Exercise portion control. Check the producer’s feeding guide and measure food carefully, a little extra each meal can add up. You may need to adjust the portion size as your dog gets older and less active.
Slow them down. Well – you can try! Labs can clear a dish of food faster than the speed of light but there are some ways of making them take a little longer to finish their dinner. Kongs are a popular choice, so are slow-feeding bowls or you can simply spread their kibble around on a flat tray so they have to chase it a little.
Switch to a light dog food. My dogs love this one. It’s usually best to introduce new food gradually – start by substituting about 10% of their usual food and ramp it up over a couple of weeks.
Cut down on those treats. Keep a handful of their kibble in reserve and use that instead. Make them some lower-fat, healthier treats from the free recipes on this blog. Give them vegetables, either fresh or dried in a dehydrator (this makes them into tasty chews). I have this one and it’s pretty straightforward to use. Rice cakes are also a good low fat option – but make sure they are salt and additive free – these are the favourite in my house!
Don’t make it all about the food! It’s easy to fall into the habit of always rewarding your dog with food, especially when you’re training them. Instead of an edible treat give them a toy or just a good old fuss!
Get help from an expert. Your vet will usually weigh your dog as part of his routine check up. Ask them about ideal weights and nutrition – they’ll have plenty of advice – it’s their job!
Keep it up! Check your Lab’s weight regularly, do visual checks and get him on the scales too. Do all you can to keep him slim and get friends and family on board as well – you’ve probably seen the TV show with the owners who were bewildered by their dog’s weight gain – turned out Grandma was secretly feed him cake!
Just remember – two extra years!