The World Health Organisation has warned that being overweight is becoming the norm for children as well as adults. Across Europe, including Britain, one third of 11 year olds are overweight.
And so it is with pets. So many dogs are overweight that a lean dog looks too thin. Walkers of lean dogs are stopped in the street and told that their dogs are unerweight; show judges reject dogs for not having “enough body”. Some breeders tell new owners that their puppies are not putting on weight fast enough.
Even Burns comes in from criticism from some quarters because some dogs don’t put on enough weight on our foods. The Advertising Standards Authority recently upheld a complaint by Hills Pet Nutrition that Burns foods didn’t provide enough energy. That’s after twenty years in which Burns has been successfully feeding the nation’s dogs.
Of course no-one wants a skinny dog but you can’t devise a food which will suit every dog. Burns foods are intended to ensure a lean, healthy dog and in most cases that’s what happens. There is a wide span in requirements; some dogs need half as much as the norm and some need as much as 50% more than the norm. That’s for apparently similiar dogs.
Of course there’s more to it than the fat content of the food. The amount of food consumed is just as important and here, pet owners have the advantage over parents. It’s easier to control the food intake of a pet than of a child. One of the most difficult problems we have at Burns is convincing pet owners that they are probably giving too much food. If you want to treat your dog, give it time, in the form of a walk or play.
Although not as effective as getting the diet right, exercise is helpful in weight control. On that note, it seems that parents are falling short too. I see in the Guardian that in a survey, 7% of parents said that their children never play outside. And I’ve known pet owners who never walk their dogs.