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Finding the right diet will help your animal's quality of life

If you support your dog with the right food, exercise and feeding behaviour, you can help it lose weight and return to a healthier lifestyle (Picture handout from Assisi Animal Sanctuary)
If you support your dog with the right food, exercise and feeding behaviour, you can help it lose weight and return to a healthier lifestyle (Picture handout from Assisi Animal Sanctuary)

We're all having to watch our diet these days - and our pets are in the same boat too. Obesity can significantly shorten your dog's lifespan, put it at risk of a number of serious and complex conditions and have a negative impact on its quality of life. Most importantly, it also reduces their life span.

However, according to pet food company Royal Canin, if you support your dog with the right food, exercise and feeding behaviour, you can help it lose weight and return to a healthier lifestyle. Your vet will help you calculate how much and what type of food to give your dog to ensure they lose weight, so make sure you stick to this to get the best results possible," says Andrew Hamilton, National Sales Manager for Ireland.

"Spread their daily ration over at least two meals, rather than one large one.

"You and other members of your family must be firm and resist giving your dog scraps from your meal or accidentally encouraging begging behaviour.

"The best way to do this is to feed your dog at the same time, from the same bowl, in the same place. Feed your dog at a different time and place from when you eat your own meals so it doesn't get confused."

Vets do not recommend simply giving your dog less food to help it lose weight because it reduces the likelihood of the animal getting all the nutrients it needs, and can encourage poor behaviour, such as aggression or begging.

"Instead, select a food which is specially designed for weight-loss programmes. It should include highly-digestible proteins so they're getting the energy they need, but with reduced calorie content," Andrew says.

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"Some of the most advanced dog foods for weight loss also include specific formula features, such as a blend of fibres that help your dog to feel fuller without adding unnecessary calories.

If your dog's health allows it, take it out for regular exercise, spreading shorter sessions over the week, rather than one long and demanding walk or run at the weekend.

"Swimming in particular can be a positive and effective exercise if your dog is struggling with long walks," Andrew says.

"By making some small changes, you can help your dog achieve its ideal weight and get back into a healthy lifestyle."

To find out more about pet nutrition, visit royalcanin.com/uk or chat to staff at the Royal Canin stand at the Belfast Telegraph Pet Expo sponsored by We Are Vertigo.

Don't miss out, get your tickets to the Belfast Telegraph Pet Expo here now! Tickets also available at the door.

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