It’s not just us humans who put on weight in the festive period.
A survey of dog owners has revealed one in ten think their pet has filled out too.
The poll, by online pet pharmacy Animed Direct, found that two-thirds fed their dog human food at Christmas with roast turkey proving most popular at 41%, followed by veg (14%), beef (11%) pigs in blankets (5%) and cheese at 2%.
Worryingly, a small proportion of dog owners, 3%, took their dog out only every other day during the holidays and 7% didn’t take their dog for a walk.
One in seven owners exercised their pet for less than an hour, 35% for an hour, 33% for between one and two hours and 7% for more than two hours.
Nearly one in ten, 9%, said they thought their dog had put on weight over Christmas.
And while extra walkies will help them shed the pounds, our pets can help our health kicks too.
Over half, 53%, said their pet was part of their New Year fitness plans.
Animed vet Shona Scott said: “One of the reasons people get a dog is so they can enjoy walking so I do find it surprising that people didn’t walk them at all.
“Even older dogs who can only shuffle along enjoy being out, and exercise helps prevent behavioural problems where dogs can become destructive if they are bored.
“It’s important for their mental health and stimulation that they get outside and move and sniff around, and for their physical and emotional health too.
“A healthy, trim dog is a happy dog.”
Here, Shona shares her top tips for keeping your dog in shape:
1. Speak to your vet
An estimated 40% of dogs in the UK are overweight according to figures from the PDSA.
If you’re concerned that your pet might be one of them, find out exactly how much activity your dog needs by speaking to your vet.
Shona says: “This will vary depending on their breed and as they get older, they will need less exercise.
“Rather than look for information online, I would urge owners to speak to their vet as they know the individual dog too.”
2. Measure your pet regularly
Shona says keeping an eye on their waistline at home as well as weighing them on visits to the vets can help your dog will live longer.
She said: “To check their weight, look at them from above. They should curve in from behind their ribs and have a waist and then flare out again towards their bottom. If your dog is straight up and down, they’re carrying excess weight.
“When you look at them from the side, they should have an upward line from the deepest part of their chest to their middle. If they’re rectangular, they’re overweight.
“Lots of studies have shown that excess weight shortens lifespan. If you’re lean and fit, you live longer and this is what we want for our dogs.”
3. Monitor portion size
Think of treats for your dog as you might do a chocolate bar or packet of crisps in your own food intake.
Dogs will eat and eat and eat! Shona says: “If you’re giving treats, then factor that into their calorie intake for the day, so take some out of their dinner.
“You need to give the same amount each day to maintain weight so measure their food on scales to check how much you’re giving them and use a scoop showing portion size so you’re consistent.”
4. Be mindful of leftovers
It’s easy to give tidbits to your dog when their cute face pops up at the dinner table but certain ingredients in our food are toxic for them.
Things like chocolate, onion gravy, nuts, fruit, garlic and bones can be dangerous, so if you are going to give leftovers, make sure you know exactly what they contain.
Shona said: “Some owners said they fed their pet cheese, which is something I would urge people not to do as it’s high in calories and dangerous for dogs who are lactose intolerant.
“It’s fine to give them some chicken or vegetables from your roast dinner, but before you put food in their bowl, try to think of every ingredient it might contain and make sure it’s safe for them to eat.”
5. Exercise together
A study by Liverpool University in 2017 found dog walking makes us happy (as if we needed telling) and a 30 minute walk each day means you exceed the recommended 150 minutes of activity per week.
Shona says: “Embracing a healthy regime where you pledge to exercise with your dog will make you more willing and interested in sticking to it and it will be more fun too.
“Going out for a walk or run with a dog has huge benefits. You can enjoy the fresh air, burn calories, release endorphins and enjoy quality time together.”
Do you have any tips for keeping your dog trim? Does your dog keep in shape by doing something our of the ordinary?
I’d love to hear about it, so please feel free to pop a comment below!
* This post is sponsored by Animed Direct, an online retailer providing discounted medication, food, treats and accessories. Find out more at www.animeddirect.co.uk