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Obesity-prone pooches: The 8 breeds most prone to obesity

Dogs hold a very special place in their owner’s hearts. So special in fact, that they always look for little ways to treat their pooches throughout the day, from giving them an extra treat just because to sneaking them a taste of their own dinner under the table. While the owner’s intentions are usually in the right place, these tasty treats can add up throughout the day and easily lead to their pet becoming overfed. This is unsurprisingly having a big impact on our pet’s weights, with UK Pet Food finding that 50% of dogs in the UK are overweight or obese.

Obesity can be difficult to manage in dogs, especially with certain breeds which can be more prone to being overweight. To help dog owners learn more about obesity in their pets, we’ve found which breeds are most prone to the condition and taken a closer look at just how much those under-the-table treats could be impacting our dog’s diets.

The top 8 dog breeds most prone to obesity

According to a study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice in conjunction with the Royal Veterinary College, the eight dog breeds which have higher odds of being overweight are:

  1. Pugs
  2. Beagles
  3. Golden Retrievers
  4. English Springer Spaniels
  5. Border Terriers
  6. Labrador Retrievers
  7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  8. Cocker Spaniels

It’s worth noting that there are a number of other factors which the study found to contribute to a dog’s weight. Middle-aged pooches were found to be more likely to be overweight or obese, as well as insured dogs and dogs who had been neutered. However, some factors were found to have little to no effect on weight, including sex and the size of the dog.

How human food impacts our dogs’ diets

One of the potential reasons for the high rates of dog obesity is dog owners treating their pets to human food without knowing how this can impact their diet. In fact, a survey by The Grocer found that a whopping 72% of pet owners admitted to feeding their pets human food. While not all human food is necessarily bad or unsafe for our pets, we often don’t provide them in moderation. This can lead to our pets getting a lot of excess calories without us even realising.

Meat is a common leftover we treat our dogs to which can take up a surprisingly large amount of their daily recommended calorie intake. Take bacon for example — while you may think two rashers seem like a reasonable portion size, for very small adult dogs, such as chihuahuas or miniature dachshunds, this equates to 58.5% of their daily recommended calories. For small-sized dogs, such as pugs, this portion size equates to a third of their daily calories, and for medium-sized dogs, like beagles, it equates to a fifth. Even for very large dogs weighing 40kg+, such as rottweilers, two rashers of bacon is the equivalent of 8.5% of their daily calorie recommendation.

Sausages and roast chicken are two other human foods which can take up a lot of our pet’s daily calories. One thick sausage, for example, takes up 27% of a small dog’s daily calories, 16% of a medium dog’s calories, and for large dogs, such as Dalmatians, this portion size equates to 11% of their overall daily calories.

It isn’t just meat which can be highly calorific for our dogs, however. If you have leftover scrambled egg from your full English, the equivalent of one egg can take up 31% of an extra small dog’s calories, although this comes to just 4% of calories recommended for an extra large dog, such as a Labrador. The lowest calorie human treat on our list is a 10g whipped cream pup cup, although this still takes up just under a tenth of a small dog’s daily calories.

Click here to explore our full findings, which look at the calorific impact of various other human foods on our pet’s diets, from white rice to peanut butter.

How obesity impacts a dog’s health and wellbeing

Obesity can have a significant effect on a dog’s health in a number of ways. One major impact the condition can have is on bone health, as extra weight can put more stress on bones, joints, and ligaments. This can in turn cause bone conditions like arthritis, as well as joint pain and an increased risk of injuring the ACL. Heart conditions, such as heart disease, and breathing difficulties can also be more common in overweight or obese dogs, as well as diabetes and bladder stones.

Aside from these health conditions, obesity can have a big impact on a dog’s wellbeing and day-to-day life. Dogs carrying excess weight can find it much more difficult to move around and get outside, meaning it may end up affecting their playtime and socialisation with other dogs.

What the experts say

Liz Clifton, dog bite prevention educator and rescue dog rehabilitator, is unsurprised with the recent increase in dog obesity rates, saying she has “noticed that this has increase over the last ten years and especially since lockdown. When families spend less time active outside this flows to their dogs too.“

Liz also says that your pet’s upbringing and background may have some bearing on how likely they are to be overweight: “If you adopt a rescue dog, especially an ex-street dog, remember that they will have had to fend for themselves and may be more prone to overeating and obesity. This is because on the streets they would have had to eat whatever they found whenever they found it due to scarcity of and competition for food.”

When it comes to helping your pet stay a healthy weight, Liz tells us it’s important to stay observant of not just your pet’s physical health but their behaviour too. You should “take time to notice how your dog is behaving and how freely they are moving. Are they showing any signs of pain or discomfort when they move? Or are they reluctant to move at all? If you find that they are, always get a veterinary opinion.”

Stress can also have an impact on a dog’s weight, Liz tells us: “As with us humans it’s easy for dogs with a high stress baseline to hold onto excess weight and fall into obesity. So take time to notice how your dog is behaving and if they are showing any signs of stress.”

Some signs of stress that Liz tells pet owners to look out for include “lack of interest in food, water, usually enjoyed activities, or company with you or other members of your family (all species included), as well as excessive licking, howling, whining, sleeping, panting, or regression with toileting habits.”

The good news is that there are a number of ways to help your dog relax more to reduce their underlying stress levels. A few suggestions from Liz include “enjoying a snuggle, going for a gentle walk, dog yoga, playing dog calming music, or Reiki.” The dog expert also tells us it’s important to look for an underlying cause of stress to help our pets overcome it and feel calmer. Liz says these stressors could be anything from “physical pain or discomfort, to any recent changes to their environment, family situation, or routine. When in doubt always seek your vet’s advice and remember that there are also holistic vets if you prefer.”

Tips for reducing your pet’s calorie intake

If your dog is overweight or obese and you want some advice on cutting down their calories, consider using the following tips to help them reduce their calorie intake.

Remember, you should always speak to a vet before making major dietary adjustments. Weight gain and obesity may be indicators of other conditions, such as hypothyroidism, so your vet may want to rule other factors out before starting your pet on a new diet.

Provide them with filling, nutrient-rich meals

Ensuring your dog receives a balanced and nutritious diet isn’t just crucial for maintaining their overall health and wellbeing, but it can keep them satisfied for longer, which can lead to a reduction of calories consumed. Opt for high-quality dog food that is rich in essential nutrients and is designed to provide satiety. Look for options that include lean proteins, a variety of vegetables, and wholesome grains. If your pet is grain-free, opt for dog foods with an alternative source of carbohydrates, such as chickpeas.

Find non-food based treats

Rewarding your furry friend doesn’t always have to involve treats high in calories. Consider alternative, non-food-based rewards, such as extra playtime and affection, or even a new toy. Not only will this help reduce your dog’s calorie intake, but it can also enhance the bond between you and your pet. Look for interactive toys that stimulate their mind and keep them engaged without adding extra calories to their diet.

Make exercise fun

Increasing your dog’s physical activity is an effective way to manage their weight and burn calories, however, you may find your pet is less active if they are overweight or obese. So try to make exercise as enjoyable as possible for them by incorporating activities they love. Whether it’s a game of fetch, a brisk walk, or even a swim, find activities that both you and your dog can enjoy together. Regular exercise can also help keep your pet mentally stimulated and have a positive effect on their mental health. Just remember to ease your pet slowly into new forms of physical activity, especially if they are obese, as a major change to their routine can be a big shock to the system. If unsure, ask your vet for advice on the best activities for your pet to try out at the start of their weight loss journey.

Ensure they enjoy everything in moderation

Like humans, dogs can benefit from a balanced and moderate approach to diet and treats. While it’s essential to cut down on excessive treats and high-calorie snacks, completely depriving your dog may lead to cravings or unhealthy behaviours. So make sure you allow them to enjoy the occasional treat, but choose wisely. Opt for low-calorie treats or break larger treats into smaller portions to spread the enjoyment without overindulging.

“It’s not surprising that obesity can have such a big impact on a dog’s health, but many of us don’t realise just how many conditions can be linked to having excess weight. From bone health to heart health to simply overall wellbeing, obesity can come with a huge toll on your pet. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help your pooch stay a healthy weight, even if they’re on the obesity-prone list! To help your pet lose weight healthily and sustainably, ensure they have filling, balanced meals and enjoy their food in moderation

“Cutting down on human treat food can also make a big difference. Most of us don’t realise just how calorie-dense our food can be for our pets. This is especially the case for smaller dogs and breeds which are more obesity-prone, such as pugs. For small dogs like these, a single sausage can take up almost half of their daily recommended calorie intake.

“It’s important to note that it’s always a good idea to see a vet if you have concerns about your pet’s weight. Every dog is different, and just like humans, they all have different nutritional needs. Whether your furry friend is a puppy or fully grown, consult with the vet before making major dietary changes.”

Methodology:

We used data from the Journal of Small Animal Practice research paper to find the eight breeds of dog most prone to obesity.

To discover the calorific impact of human food on a dog’s diet, we first calculated the median recommended daily calorie intake for six sizes of dog, using the Pet Nutrition Alliance calorie calculator. We then used calorie data from Nutra Check on 10 types of food commonly given to dogs to work out the percentage of an adult dog’s recommended daily calorie intake this would equate to depending on their size.

To view our full research, click here.

Everything you need to know about hedgehog hibernation

Have you ever been curious about how hibernation works when it comes to hedgehogs? This miraculous feat of nature allows hedgehogs to survive cold winter conditions when food is scarce and temperatures plummet. In this blog, we’ll delve into the intricacies of hedgehog hibernation and explain how it works.

Why do hedgehogs need to hibernate?

Hedgehogs hibernate in order to survive. As insectivores, their primary diet consists of insects, which become limited in the winter months. Additionally, hedgehogs are ectothermic animals, meaning they rely on external temperatures to regulate their body heat. To avoid freezing and conserve energy, they enter a state of torpor, which allows them to slow down their metabolic processes and endure the winter until food sources become more readily available.

How do hedgehogs prepare for hibernation? 

Before the onset of hibernation, hedgehogs go through a series of steps to prepare. They need to accumulate sufficient fat reserves to sustain them through the dormant period. Hedgehogs fatten themselves up by foraging for extra food and insects in the late summer and autumn. These fat reserves serve as their energy source during hibernation. You can support hedgehogs in this phase by leaving out hedgehog food. If you don’t have any, wet cat food will do. 

How does hedgehog torpor work?

Hedgehog hibernation, also known as torpor, is different from deep sleep. During torpor, a hedgehog’s metabolic rate drops drastically. Their body temperature can decrease from the normal 35-37 degrees Celsius (95-99 degrees Fahrenheit) to as low as 1-5 degrees Celsius (33-41 degrees Fahrenheit). This temperature reduction helps them save energy.

The heart rate and breathing of a hibernating hedgehog slow down dramatically. Their heart may beat only a few times per minute, and they take extremely shallow breaths. This state of torpor allows them to maintain their fat reserves, often for several months.

How do hedgehogs choose a place to hibernate? 

Choosing the right hibernation site is essential for our spiky friends. They look for well-protected and hidden locations, such as piles of leaves, log piles, compost heaps, or even the cozy confines of garden sheds. These spots offer insulation and protection from adverse weather conditions. Hedgehogs create a hibernaculum, which is a small, enclosed space in their chosen hibernation site. In this safe space, they curl into a tight ball, tuck their head under their spines, and enter torpor.

When do hedgehogs emerge from hibernation?

Hedgehogs don’t have a set hibernation period. The duration depends on several factors, including temperature and the availability of food. Some may hibernate for a few weeks, while others stay in torpor for several months. As the weather begins to warm and food sources become more abundant, hedgehogs gradually wake from their slumber.

But it’s a delicate process. It takes time for hedgies’ body temperature, heart rate, and metabolic processes to return to normal. During this period, hedgehogs are vulnerable and may require supplemental feeding from well-meaning humans to regain their strength. On PetRange, you find a great selection of supplementary food for hedgehogs available. 

Do all hedgehogs hibernate?

In short, no. If the winter months are milder than usual, or if a hedgehog has generous fat stores, they may not hibernate at all, or hibernate for a much shorter period. This is why it’s so important to still leave out hedgehog food, even in the winter season. 

How can I help hedgehogs during hibernation?

We all love hedgehogs and we understand that the general public want to do what they can to promote hedgehog welfare. To offer a helping hand to hedgehogs in your area, there are several ways you can assist them during hibernation:

  • Create a hedgehog-friendly garden with natural habitats like log piles and leaf piles.
  • Provide access to fresh water, especially when natural water sources may freeze.
  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden, as these chemicals can harm hedgehogs and their food sources.
  • Check any bonfire materials for hiding hedgehogs before lighting them.

Ultimately, hedgehog hibernation is a remarkable phenomenon that allows these endearing critters to endure the rigors of winter. As they curl up in their cozy hibernacula and slip into torpor, hedgehogs are a testament to the incredible adaptations of wildlife in the UK. By understanding and supporting their hibernation needs, we can help ensure these cute creatures continue to thrive in the UK for years to come.

The Fur-tastic Guide to Keeping Your Cat’s Coat Healthy

Here at PetRange, we understand that all pet parents want to keep their cats happy and healthy. A healthy, shiny coat not only enhances your cat’s appearance but also indicates their overall well-being. As a responsible cat owner, it’s essential to prioritize your feline friend’s coat health. In this blog, we’ll explore some tips and tricks to ensure your cat’s fur remains in purr-fect condition.

Consider what your cat is eating

Just like humans, cats need a well-balanced diet to maintain good health, and this extends to their coats. Ensure your cat’s food is rich in high-quality protein and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. These nutrients help promote healthy skin and fur, preventing dryness, itching, and excessive shedding. Visit our cat food page for a variety of healthy options! 

Take time to groom your cat

Grooming isn’t just about keeping your cat’s fur clean; it’s also an opportunity to bond with your pet. Brushing your cat regularly not only removes loose hair and prevents matting but also stimulates blood circulation and distributes natural oils, giving their coat a natural shine. Remember, long-haired breeds may need more frequent grooming than short-haired ones.

Take the plunge if necessary 

Cats are usually excellent self-groomers, but sometimes they may need a little help. If your cat gets into something dirty or develops a skin condition, consult your vet about the right cat-specific shampoo. Avoid over-bathing, as it can strip your cat’s coat of essential oils and disrupt the natural balance. 

Stay on top of flea and tick treatments

Parasites like fleas and ticks not only make your cat uncomfortable but can also damage their coat. Regularly check for signs of infestations, and use veterinarian-recommended products to keep these pests at bay. Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy coat.

Keep your cat hydrated 

Proper hydration is essential for overall health and coat condition. Make sure your cat always has access to clean, fresh water. Dehydration can lead to dry, flaky skin and a lackluster coat. Some cats prefer to drink from a running source and you can buy special water bowls if your cat is one of the fussy types. 

Offer lots of environmental stimulation 

A happy cat is a healthy cat. Enrich your cat’s environment with toys, scratching posts, and interactive play. Reducing stress and boredom can help prevent excessive grooming, which can lead to fur damage and hairballs.

Don’t miss those regular vet check-ups

Routine vet visits are crucial for your cat’s overall health, including their coat. Your veterinarian can detect underlying health issues that may affect your cat’s fur, such as allergies, parasites, or hormonal imbalances. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to maintain a healthy coat.

Patience and Love

Last but not least, give your cat plenty of love and attention. A happy, stress-free cat is more likely to have a healthy coat. Spend quality time together, and your feline friend will reward you with a shiny, vibrant coat and years of companionship.

A healthy coat is not only a sign of your cat’s well-being but also a source of pride for any cat owner. By following these tips and making sure your feline friend receives the care they deserve, you’ll help them maintain a beautiful, healthy coat.

5 Things You Can Do If Your Dog Won’t Stop Barking

We all love our furry companions, but sometimes, they can be quite the noisy neighbours, especially if they won’t stop barking. While barking is a natural form of communication for dogs, excessive or incessant barking can be frustrating for both you and your four-legged friend. Fortunately, there are several effective strategies to help curb this behaviour and bring some peace and quiet back into your home. In this blog post, we’ll explore five things you can do if your dog won’t stop barking.

 

  1. Identify the Root Cause

Before you can effectively address your dog’s barking, it’s essential to understand why they are doing it in the first place. Dogs bark for various reasons, including:

 

  • Attention-seeking: Some dogs bark simply because they want your attention. If they learn that barking gets them what they want, they may continue the behaviour.
  • Fear or anxiety: Dogs may bark when they are scared or anxious. This can be due to thunderstorms, fireworks, strangers, or other triggers.
  • Territorial behaviour: Dogs are territorial animals and may bark to alert you to potential intruders or perceived threats.
  • Boredom: A lack of mental and physical stimulation can lead to excessive barking.
  • Medical issues: Sometimes, barking can be a sign of underlying health problems. If your dog’s barking seems unusual or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your veterinarian.

 

  1. Training and Socialization

Proper training and socialization are essential for a well-behaved dog. Enrol your dog in obedience classes or work with a professional dog trainer if needed. Teach them basic commands like “quiet” or “enough,” and reward them when they obey. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in modifying their behaviour.

Additionally, expose your dog to various social situations and people to reduce anxiety and fear-based barking. A well-socialized dog is less likely to react aggressively or excessively to new experiences.

 

  1. Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Boredom can be a significant contributor to excessive barking. Make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise through daily walks and playtime. Mental stimulation is just as crucial, so consider puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training sessions to keep their mind engaged.

Sometimes just playing with your dog on a regular basis is enough to keep the boredom at bay, so get yourself out into the back garden with your pooch and have a few games of fetch.

 

  1. Offer comfort and solace

Occasionally, dogs can become especially vocal when they need a bit more love, attention and comfort. It’s normal for life to get on top of us sometimes so if you’ve been working longer hours than usual or spent more time away than usual from your pooch, they may just need to reconnect. Set aside some time every day to have some one-on-one time with your dog and make sure they feel loved and cared for. This could go a long way to settling any anxieties they may have.

 

 

  1. Seek Professional Help

If your dog’s barking persists despite your best efforts, it may be time to consult a professional dog behaviourist or trainer. They can assess your dog’s behaviour, identify any underlying issues, and provide a customized training plan to address the problem effectively. It’s also important to rule out an underlying medical condition so make sure to visit your vet if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

 

Remember, patience and consistency are key when trying to modify your dog’s barking behaviour. Avoid punishments as these often worsen their anxiety or fear. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and understanding the reasons behind their barking. With time and effort, you can help your beloved canine companion become a quieter, happier member of your family.

Spooky Delights: Homemade Halloween Treats for Your Pooch

Halloween isn’t just for humans; it’s a paw-some opportunity to pamper your furry friend with homemade treats that match the spooky spirit of the season. Skip the store-bought goodies and treat your dog to something special. Read on for some frightfully fun and delicious homemade Halloween treats that your pup will howl for.

  1. Pumpkin Pupcakes:

Pumpkin is not only a fall favorite but also a healthy treat for dogs. Whip up a batch of pumpkin pupcakes for your canine companion. Simply mix pumpkin puree, whole wheat flour, eggs, and a touch of honey. Bake them in muffin tins and let your dog enjoy a tasty, bite-sized Halloween delight.

  1. Boo-tiful Banana Bites:

For a simple yet hauntingly healthy treat, try banana bites. Slice ripe bananas into thin rounds and sprinkle them with a touch of cinnamon (a safe spice for dogs). Freeze them for a chilly, crunchy snack that your pup will adore.

  1. Spooky Sweet Potato Chews:

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse for dogs. Slice sweet potatoes into thin strips, season them with a hint of cinnamon and bake until they’re crispy. These homemade chews are not only scrumptious but also great for your dog’s dental health.

  1. Witch’s Brew Smoothie:

Make your dog’s Halloween extra special with a witch’s brew smoothie. Blend plain yogurt, banana, a dash of honey, and a few blueberries for a ghoulishly good treat. Freeze the mixture in bone-shaped molds for a chillingly cute presentation.

  1. Ghostly Goodies:

Create spooky shapes with homemade dog-friendly dough. Mix whole wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce, and a touch of water to form a dough. Roll it out and use Halloween-themed cookie cutters like ghosts, pumpkins, or bats. Bake until golden brown, and you’ve got festive treats that will have your pup wagging their tail in delight.

  1. Mummy Bones:

Turn ordinary dog biscuits into mummy-themed delights. Use plain yogurt as “bandages” and drizzle it over your dog’s favorite bone-shaped treats. Add two tiny dots of yogurt for the eyes, and voilà, you’ve got mummy bones that are more adorable than eerie.

  1. Spider Surprise:

For a truly spook-tacular Halloween treat, make spider-shaped goodies. Create a dog-safe dough using ingredients like peanut butter, whole wheat flour, and a touch of honey. Roll out the dough and use a spider-shaped cookie cutter. Use a dab of yogurt for the eyes and stick on pretzel “legs” before baking. These creepy-crawly treats are sure to amuse your pup.

  1. Jack-o’-Lantern Jerky:

Slice lean meat, such as turkey or chicken, into thin strips and marinate them in a dog-friendly broth (avoid garlic and onion). Lay the strips on a baking sheet and bake at a low temperature until they become jerky. Cut them into jack-o’-lantern shapes with a knife or cookie cutter for a savory Halloween snack.

  1. Pumpkin Spice Latte for Dogs:

Skip the café and treat your pup to a canine-friendly “pupkin” spice latte. Brew a small amount of dog-safe, unflavored herbal tea and mix it with a bit of pumpkin puree. Serve it in a dog-friendly dish for a seasonal sip your dog will adore.

  1. Haunted Hamburger Bites:

Create mini hamburger bites using lean ground beef or turkey. Shape them into small patties and cook them thoroughly. Add a small piece of cheese as a “ghost” on top, using a dab of yogurt for eyes. These spooky sliders will leave your dog begging for more.

 

Before you whip up these Halloween treats, make sure to check that all the ingredients are safe for your specific dog, especially if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Also, remember that treats should be given in moderation to maintain your pup’s overall health. With these homemade Halloween treats, your dog can join in the spooky festivities and enjoy some delicious, safe, and seasonally inspired delights. So, get creative in the kitchen, share the love, and watch your four-legged friend revel in the magic of Halloween!

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