We’re killing our dogs with kindness and our pets are at risk without us even realising.
That’s the stark warning from TV presenter and health and fitness personality, Luke Hines after his own dog Chia was diagnosed as being 10 kilos overweight and therefore obese.
Dog obesity is a growing problem in Australia, with 41% of dogs classed as overweight or obese. Worryingly, these figures are increasingly putting more lives at risk. Dr Gretta Howard, from Turramurra Veterinary Hospital, reveals that the number of dogs being classed as overweight or obese has soared in the last 12 months. “The body condition score for dogs in my practice has increased over the past 6-12months by approximately 10% and without prompt action, this upward trend will keep getting worse,” she states.
Despite spending his entire career in the health and fitness industry, Luke was shocked to learn that Labrador Chia was obese when he did DogCheck™, the online tool designed to help pet parents identify if their dog’s health is at risk. “In human terms, Chia was 25 kilos overweight, which was obviously shocking to me as a fitness professional,” he said. “I think my experience illustrates that we all need to take our dog’s nutrition seriously and understand what we’re feeding them and how that impacts their wellbeing.”
After completing the health check and seeing Chia’s weight issue put into a more ‘human’ context, Luke took action to improve Chia’s nutrition and overall wellbeing. Working with Black Hawk’s pet experts he helped Chia to shed the pounds by following a tailored nutrition plan.
With Chia now slimmed down and healthy, Luke wants to share his newfound knowledge and help pet parents across Australia take charge of their pet’s nutrition and help their four-legged family members enjoy healthier, happier and longer lives.
CLICK HERE to see Luke’s revealing video about Chia’s shock obesity issue.
Here he shares his top tips to combat pet obesity:
Make pet nutrition a priority
One of the biggest problems I had was that I was killing my dog with kindness. With my busy work schedule, I was travelling a lot and fell into the habit of showing Chia affection when I returned, via treats and food. This was contributing to Chia’s gradual weight gain and I was totally to blame! I was absolutely devastated when I discovered my girl was battling with her weight, not to mention the other issues it was causing such as a higher risk of cancer, joint problems, dull coat and the potential of living a shorter life. We all treat our pets as part of the family but, we also need to understand that their nutritional needs are different, and tucking into the family leftovers does more harm than good.
Feed the best natural food you can
Good quality, nutrient dense food is key to our own health and the same is true for canine nutrition. That means feeding a high quality food. Just like us, dogs get their energy from the food they eat so it should be well balanced and packed with naturally sourced nutrition, not packed with unnecessary calories, salts and preservatives.
Find a way to move each and every day: an activity that you actually look forward to and can share with your dog, so it becomes a part of your daily routine. As well as the benefits for your own health, you’ll be providing physical and mental stimulation for your pet. Whether that’s tossing a Frisbee, going for a walk on the beach or even just a cycle around the block, find something you love to do that moves your body and includes your dog.
Get social (but not social media!)
Being physically active is important but social and mental wellbeing also matters. Doing activities that make us happy, setting time aside for family, and switching off digital devices are all ways we can work towards a healthy mindset. Our pets benefit both directly and indirectly as a result, which can help with weight management. The more time we spend with our pets, the happier we both are. Often, this means spending more time outside, living life, connecting with your dog, which in-turn builds strong emotional wellbeing for them.
Do a dog health check
DogCheck™ helped me understand there was a problem with my beloved Chia and gave me the tools and know-how to fix it. Thanks to the quick free online check, I was able to learn about what I needed to do to ensure she was in good shape, both physically and mentally and essentially live a longer and happier life.
Dr Lee Danks, Black Hawk Technical Services Veterinarian says taking action for better pet nutrition creates happier, healthier pets explaining; “Obesity is a disease and a number of health problems are more likely as a result. Dogs are at increased risk of some types of cancer, they are also more at risk of breathing and heart problems and anaesthesia and surgery can be more difficult. Most commonly, carrying too much weight simply puts undue pressure on joints, which means overweight dogs often show lameness and pain at a much younger age.
“There have been some fantastic studies on weight management, including one carried out with Labradors, revealing that dogs who were fed 25% less lived almost two years longer than those who were fed more. Not only did they live longer, they showed better health on a number of measures. Quality of life is so important – and improvements in vitality and general wellbeing is usually one of the big benefits people notice when their dogs lose weight.”
About Luke Hines
Luke Hines has spent his entire career in the health and fitness industry, after resolving to eat well and move more to lose weight in his teens. Following his appearance in Australia’s most famous kitchen, he went on to write nine bestselling cookbooks and is a presenter on Channel 7’s The House of Wellness. His down to earth persona, coupled with his nutritional qualifications, have established him as one of the most popular health and fitness personalities in Australia.
About Dr Lee Danks
Dr Lee Danks has worked in veterinary practices in Melbourne and across the UK and has a particular interest in companion animal nutrition. Dr Danks has also co-authored clinical literature and lectures to build on our collective understanding of the nutritional needs of dogs and cats. As part of the Technical Services Veterinarian team at Black Hawk, Dr Danks is closely involved with the formulation of Black Hawk recipes, from the start of the process to the end.
About Black Hawk DogCheck™
The Black Hawk DogCheck™ tool is designed to help pet parents identify if their dog’s health is at risk due to obesity and allows them to take the steps needed to improve their pet’s well-being. The tool requires dog parents to submit their dog’s current weight, gender, age and breed to the DogCheck™ website via smartphone or desktop. This data then transforms their dog into human form — enabling dog parents to visualise their dogs as they would see themselves.
DogCheck™ provides useful tools to get pets back into shape through good nutrition, portion control and exercise. These include; advice on feeding plans, a portion control calculator, expert pet health articles and tips, as well as access to the Black Hawk customer service team for one-to-one advice.