Tag Archives: weight gain

Doggy quote of the month for December

pets-like-owners-expand-over-christmas-fanny-wright

Fanny Wright was born in Scotland and was a lecturer, social reformer and feminist.

If you are concerned about your dog’s caloric intake over Christmas, I strongly recommend a massage voucher for a gift – no calories, and we will get your dog moving better so they actually burn more calories which helps with weight loss.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dog Owners Often Inaccurately Measure Out Kibble, Study Finds

A cup might seem like the most obvious way to measure out dry dog food, but new University of Guelph research finds that when it comes to getting portions right, dog owners often get it wrong.

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(Pixabay)

The study, designed to test dog owners’ measuring skills, found owners were often inaccurate, ranging from a 48 percent underestimation to a 152 percent overestimation, depending on the device they used and the amount they tried to portion out.

The occasional measurement mistake may not seem like much, but errors made day after day could lead to under-nourishment, weight gain or obesity, said lead author Prof. Jason Coe from U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College.

“We found it particularly concerning to see how often participants over-measured the assigned portions, particularly given that there is an ongoing problem with pet obesity. Dog owners can easily overfeed their animals if they don’t measure out portions correctly, putting their animals at risk of several obesity-related diseases,” he said.

The solution, Coe said, is for dog owners to change their approach to measuring their dog’s dry food. The gold standard would be to use a kitchen scale to weigh out portions. Scales are precise and leave little room for error to ensure that dogs are neither over- nor underfed.

The study, published in the BMJ journal Veterinary Record and funded by Royal Canin, recruited 100 dog owners and asked them to use one of three common measuring devices to measure out kibble: a standard 2-cup scoop with gradated markings, sold at a local pet store; a 2-cup liquid measuring cup typically used for baking; and a 1-cup plastic dry-food measuring cup.

Each participant was asked to take their assigned measuring device and measure out three volumes of dry dog food: ¼ cup, ½ cup and 1 cup. The volume of dog food measured by participants was then compared to the correct weights respectively.

The participants’ portions varied considerably, particularly when they were asked to portion out the smallest volume which participants often got significantly wrong.

“That finding has important implications for small dogs, since they typically receive smaller volumes of food. Even a small amount of over measuring for a small dog can be a considerable increase in their daily caloric intake putting them at risk of weight gain from too much food,” said Coe, who is a researcher with the Department of Population Medicine.

Those using the 2-cup liquid measuring cup were most likely to inaccurately measure all three portions.

“The problem with trying to eyeball 1 cup or ½ cup in a 2-cup device is that there is lots of room for error in deciding where the measurement line is, depending on how you’re holding the cup,” said Coe.

Study participants were most accurate when they used a 1-cup dry-food measuring device to portion out 1 cup of kibble. Another option for improving accuracy is to use a dry-food measuring device matched to the amount needed, said Coe.

“The closer the measuring cup is to the portion you want to measure, the more accurate you’ll be,” said Coe.

But the best method of all, say the researchers, is the kitchen scale, which ensures each portion size is precise.

When the participants in this study were shown how off their usual measurement methods were, most indicated a high likelihood that they would start using a kitchen scale for measuring their dog’s kibble.

“I now use a scale in my own home for accurately measuring my own dog’s kibble. I first found it strange to use. But now that I’m in the routine of using it, it seems weird not to use a scale,” Coe said.

Coe says even dog owners who have pets that are at a healthy weight, ensuring correct food portions now is key to preventing weight gain and weight-related problems down the road.

“Most people want their pets to be happy and healthy and this is a way to keep their pets’ weights in control from Day 1, improving their chances of living long and full lives.”

Source:  University of Guelph

Does my dog have arthritis?

Fireplace photo

Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs.  At first, though, owners may not always realise when their dog is suffering.  That’s because dogs tend to hide discomfort and pain from their pack.

Signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis include:

  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Weight gain
  • Reluctance to jump, run, walk or climb stairs
  • Decreased interest in playing or engaging in activities
  • Being less alert
  • Favouring a limb
  • Changes in attitude or behaviour

One day in 2011, Daisy let me know something was wrong.  We were out walking and she slowed down and stopped and the look in her eyes was one of pain.  She had finally let me know that she wasn’t feeling herself.

A series of x-rays confirmed arthritis in her lumbosacral spine and left hip.

Since then, she has responded to rest, conventional treatments, hydrotherapy, and other complementary therapies including my massage and laser treatments.

Quality of life for an arthritis sufferer can be attained – once the owner is aware of the problem!

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.