Get tough on pooches’ paunches in 2015 vets warn, as 95% say better weight control would significantly impact dogs’ health

29 December 2014

Ask your vet's advice about exercise and diet for your dog

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging owners making New Year's resolutions not to forget pets, particularly their dogs, in health and weight control regimes in the New Year.

In BVA's most recent Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, 95% of companion animal vets said that better weight control would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare, with two-thirds saying that a change in diet would also have a significant impact.

BVA is encouraging dog owners everywhere to include their loved pets in New Year's resolutions to burn off the post-Christmas flab and get fit.

BVA President John Blackwell said:

“As a practising vet myself and as a dog owner, I know how tempting it can be to show your love for a family pet by indulging in treats. But more and more practices are seeing pets brought in suffering from the consequences of poor weight control, from mobility and breathing problems to cardio-vascular conditions.

“A much better way for owners to love and care for their pets is to ensure they get the diet and the exercise that meet their pets' natural needs. We all know that dogs and walks go together like a horse and carriage. As people all over the country begin the New Year with a new health regime, we would encourage owners to get fit with their pets – a long walk is good exercise for you and your dog. Think about going an extra mile on a country walk or an extra circuit round the park.

“If you are concerned that your pet may be overweight, ask your vet to check and to give advice on diet and exercise. There are lots of pet food options that suit not only your pet's age and size, but their lifestyle as well.”

BVA's top five tips for getting fit with your dog in 2015 are:

  • Go the extra mile – on country walks or do an extra circuit around the local park. Remember that your dog should be on a lead in the countryside when there is livestock around.
  • Think toys not treats – toys that a dog can play with and get fun exercise from can get that tail wagging as energetically as treats
  • Join a club – lots of vet practices run fit clubs and weight-control clubs.
  • Get the right diet – make sure that your dog's diet is right for the breed, the size, the age and the lifestyle of your pet.
  • Ask your local vet – your local vet will know your pet and its needs better than most. If in doubt about your pet's health, exercise regime or diet, ask your vet.

Further information

BVA's Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey draws together a panel of over 1,000 BVA members broadly representative of the wider BVA membership who are surveyed on a semi-regular basis. The Voice of the Veterinary Profession captures the profession's views and experiences by asking questions about animal health and welfare, public health, and trends in the veterinary profession. The surveys are carried out by the independent research company, Alpha Research www.alpharesearch.co.uk.

    BVA's second Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey ran from 17 September to 9 October 2014. 752 vets completed the survey.

    448 small animal and mixed practice vets were asked “Thinking about the dogs that you see and treat, what impact would the following have on their health and welfare?”

    • 95% felt better weight control would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare
    • 88% felt that providing more exercise would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare
    • 82% felt that better early socialisation would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare
    • 75% felt better selective breeding for improved conformation would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare
    • 64% felt a change of diet would significantly impact on canine health and welfare
    • 43% felt that more screening for inherited conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye problems would have a significant impact on canine health and welfare
    • Other factors mentioned which vets felt could have an impact on canine health and welfare include:
      • Better owner understanding of canine behaviour, handling and training
      • Better owner education prior to obtaining a per regarding the time and cost of keeping a pet and lifestyle considerations
      • Better dental care
      • More regular antiparasitic treatments

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