New year is time for pets to shed a few pounds too

We’re not the only ones carrying a few extra pounds after Christmas.

We tend to pamper our dogs, giving them turkey titbits and even the odd bacon wrapped sausage.

With darker evenings, too, their walks tend to get a bit shorter and they spend a bit more time relaxing in their baskets...not so good for them or us!

After the shortest day tomorrow (Saturday) the evenings will start to lighten and we need to think about a general family fitness campaign.

Overweight dogs can suffer from problems like joint and arthritis pain, respiratory conditions and heart disease.

If your dog is in good shape you should be able to see and feel the outline of his ribs without excess fat covering them.

The chest should be the widest part.

Have your dog weighed regularly (this is often carried out free by the veterinary nurse) and if they’re tipping the scales, establish a weight management programme.

If your dog is no more than 10 per cent too heavy you can reduce this food ration by 10-15 per cent and aim for a one per cent weight loss each week.

If he or she is any bigger you should opt for a special weight loss diet designed for the purpose.

Ask your vet for more details.

Vets say controlling portion size by carefully weighing food is essential. Too often we just guess and overfeed.

You should be feeding to your dog’s ideal weight, not his current weight, cutting out treats is vital, too, as are regular walks and interactive play sessions.

The walks will also do you good! In fact regulate your dog’s habits, exercise and weight the way you regulate your own.

Puzzle feeders make eating fun and encourage exercise but any treat should be within the allotted daily food allowance.

Better still, change your regular reward to a game or a walk and your dog will be just as happy and a whole lot fitter. So will you.