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Dog obesity and the real issue with dog food and dog treats
I recently viewed an article discussing dog and cat obesity and it funnily enough said that dogs and cats are both getting bigger, as are their human counterparts. It stated that in the US that " half the nation’s dogs and cats are overweight or obese". Ref 1
The reason would probably be the increasing sedentary life of owners, the increase of sedentary past-times (ie smart phones) and the lack of walking in off lead dog parks.
Just like humans, dogs weight is a balance between exercise and food intake, as well as age/ genes etc.
Their specific advice is " feed a low-calorie diet and “exercise more." And just like the owners its wise to use methods where " weight loss is one that promotes fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass. They say " I typically favor a therapeutic higher-protein, low-calorie food as a starting weight loss diet." REF 1
"Don’t trust the bag; pet food feeding guides are formulated for adult, un-spayed or un-neutered active dogs and cats. That means if you have an older, spayed or neutered indoor lap potato you’ll probably be feeding 20% to 30% too much if you follow the food’s instructions" Ref 1
All that is good, but here is the advice I particular take dislike to: "walk Scooter for 15 minutes at a brisk pace twice daily and try for a 45 minute easy walk on the weekends” ref 1
This is the busy modern man or woman's approach to life. To fit the dog into their schedule rather than adjusting their own time to make a balanced dog. The above statement is ridiculous for several reasons. One is that dogs like humans take time to warm their muscles up properly and shooting off at a pace may not suit all breeds and ages of dogs. AND it also takes time for a dogs fat burning mechanisms to kick in, so 15 minutes will just burn the energy from the food they have eaten or from blood sugar NOT from their fat stores.
The worst thing about this advice is that it completely ignores the pack needs of your dog, and how they should get 45 minutes per day in an off lead dog park to get mentally and physically fit and remain or learn to be social. Just advising 45 minutes on the weekend is the same as saying that is how often you should have human contact.
I get that everyone is busier these days so I won't bang on about off lead dog walking, but I will state that 45 minutes socialising on the weekend is NOT the gold standard ideal, nor should anyone consider it a great recommendation. So if they can get something as fundamental as socialisation wrong, you know that their advice on type of food is also going go be the corporate (profit) line.
Appropriate dog food for losing weight
Sure you can feed your dog low calorie pellets or wet food, but at the end of the day its really about HOW MANY scoops you give them from the bucket. You don't need to change your dog food or buy specialised varieties that just make dog food companies and retailers richer, you just need to reduce the AMOUNT of any (GRAIN) food you are giving.
Here is a great tip they also offer, but with a caveat from me: " Choose low-calorie goodies that provide a health benefit. I favor single ingredient treats such as sweet potato and blueberry bites, baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas." Ref 2
Grains and vegetables are most suited to herbivores (rabbits) and omnivores (humans) NOT carnivores (dogs). Your dog will tolerate grain to an extent, but suffer attached illnesses in later life (that no vet or dog food company will of course show as a link). Dogs love anything with sugar, and carbohydrates (= sugar), but they don't usually eat a lot of carbs in the wild, as they are predators of animals, not gatherers of roots, and leaves and berries.
Your dog will often eat carrots and berries when an owner offers them, because they taste sweet, or give a crunch just like as stick, they will also fill their belly. The profound issue is that they don't provide bio available proteins or appropriate animal based fats you find in meat.
If reducing pellets makes your dog hungry and you want to fill their stomach with mostly empty calories, then sure use the above potatoes and berries and carrots as filler (much like grain is), but this article totally ignores the point that you are not giving your dog any better nutrition than the low meat content sanitised grain bags of food you pay a lot of money for called commercial dog food.
Why use meat based dog treats in a calorie controlled diet
I have read articles that say you can replace up to 25% of your dogs grain food by weight with dried meat based products, but that can be pushed to more like 50%. Add a dog vitamin tablet if you are concerned about what affco is telling you.
The incredible value of adding meat based dog treats is that you are swapping inert empty calorie grains for high bio available proteins and animal fats, the original and most appropriate dog diet.
If you want to give your dog any treats, why waste the opportunity of giving them better nutrition than their regular dog food, by giving them the same or less nutrition, with grain based treats, or vegetables?
If your dog is obese, reducing their intake of low bio available grains isn't going to make it any easier for their body to take up the protein (essential amino acid building blocks). The options of giving them smaller portions of treats, hiding them in puzzle balls or giving them longer chewing treats, like we have in sample packs in our SPECIALS category, are an ideal nutrition solution.
But whatever you do, make sure you feed your dog MORE meat based food or dog treats as often as you can, by just winding back on the filler grain "food".
REF 1 https://petobesityprevention.org/news/2017/8/19/better-pet-fitness-in-four-steps