Obesity is a huge problem in dogs and unfortunately something we are seeing more and more with both foster and adopted dogs. Sighthounds in particular are not designed to carry extra weight. Being overweight can dramatically impact on their health and shorten their lives. We are now so used to seeing overweight dogs in the UK that it can be harder to notice, and often your vet may not mention your dogs weight problem until it approaches obesity and is already suffering from health problems.
What is more worrying is that some vets, due to inexperience with the breed, give inaccurate information on weight guidance. Many will go on the weight of a British Greyhound which is remarkably different from the Spanish. They are built differently so please ask us, and we will be able to advise.
We have had a very bad experience with one of our adopted dogs who was returned grossly overweight – the impact on her health was shocking. She had laboured breathing, was extremely unfit and had developed huge fatty lumps on her hind – lumps she is now unable to get rid of.
Over-feeding your dog is just as cruel as under-feeding your dog, so please take it very seriously. We consider it as abuse.
Sighthounds are supposed to look a lot thinner than most breeds so if your Galgo or Saluki looks “healthy” to most people, its likely to be anything but! As a sighthound guardian you have to be prepared for strangers to tell you that your dog is too thin and learn to take it as a compliment!
Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for a dog’s health. For slender breeds such as galgos and salukis being overweight can seriously impact on all of their organs and joints. If they remain overweight for an extended period it can greatly shorten their life span and put them at increased risk for numerous health conditions, illnesses and other complications such as
-arthritis and osteoarthritis
-bone breaks and dislocations
-high blood pressure
-heart disease and failure
-more likely to suffer complications under anaesthetic
-higher risk of heat stroke
How to tell if your dog is at the proper weight
For a galgo to be at a healthy weight they should have a nice belly tuck, the outline of the ribs and the spine visible, the pins (tips of the hipbones) should also be seen due to the position of their pelvis. There are some key anatomical differences between galgos and greyhounds, galgos are one of the lightest built sighthounds and can make even greyhounds look quite chunky. Because of the terrain and distances galgos are required to hunt over, the agility and stamina required for this translates to a nimble featherweight body. A galgo at optimum weight will still have prominent ribs, hips and spine.
For new guardians, particularly those unfamiliar with the breed, it is very easy to assume they are underweight and feel the need to feed them more. Especially given their expert skills with sad eyes it can be easy to spoil them rotten, but they are capable of putting on weight quickly, and as with humans, getting it back off is often much harder!
Sometimes it is hard to notice they have put weight on, as you see them everyday which is why weighing them regularly is important. Most vets will have scales in their waiting area which they will be happy for you to use, this can also be a good way to build up a positive association with the vets as you can visit regularly for just a quick hello to the reception staff and weigh in and then leave, so not all trips to the vet result in a situation which may be scary for your dog. Some pet shops will also have scales you are able to use, or you can weigh them yourself at home by weighing yourself and then weighing yourself whilst holding the dog and doing some simple subtraction. It is good to keep a record of your dogs weight over time.
Things that may help when trying to reduce your dogs weight
– Don’t let your dog graze or free-feed, stick to two meals a day. If they do not eat at mealtime then take the food away and offer it again later. This will help to establish a routine and having meal times helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and digestion, not to mention a more routine toilet schedule
– Weigh the food out, I know its much easier to eyeball it but it could mean you are inadvertently overfeeding your dog at every meal. And then with treats, chews and titbits it all adds up. If you don’t want to weigh at every meal you can weigh the food in a cup or container and mark where the amount is so you can quickly measure out the correct amount
– Reduce the treats and titbits they have or reduce their meal sizes to take into account the treats you use. It is nice to spoil your dog and food can be very helpful for training, however you can use part of their daily meal allowance as training treats or use lower calorie treats. If you are using lots of treats you may need to reduce their meal allowance to balance this
– Consider if the level of exercise they have is appropriate. As it has been nice weather recently lots of people won’t have been exercising their dogs as much which can result in dogs putting on weight. If your dog is overweight and this is putting pressure on their joints this may mean they seem reluctant to walk. However, once they are back to their ideal weight and condition they will be much more energetic and enjoy zoomies again
– If there is no logical explanation for your dogs increase (or decrease) in weight then please do consult with your vet to ensure there isn’t an underlying health condition that has caused the weight change
Your dog will always eat whatever its given (and what it isn’t given should the opportunity be there!) so it is down to us as guardians to make sure what they are eating is appropriate for them. If we are making poor choices on their behalf, it will ultimately end up causing them harm, not to mention harming your bank balance when the vet bills start stacking up!
If you want advice on how to choose the best food for your dog then the website allaboutdogfood.co.uk is a great place to start but please feel free to ask our advice too
We don’t mean to fat shame peoples dogs, but we must do this for their welfare! We had a galga returned to us earlier this year, having been in perfect shape before adoption, but she was obese. She now has fatty lumps which are not reducing. It was a horrendous shock to see a galgo in this way, she was out of breath just walking. So much has gone into rescuing these precious souls, we want them to be able to live happy and healthy lives!Attached to this post are some photos of galgos and salukis at healthy weights so you can see the sort of body shape you should be keeping your dogs at. If you want any further advice or guidance on this or to check if your dogs are a healthy weight then please do reach out to us
Interesting video here about how important the microbiome is: