Weight management in dogs is becoming an increasing problem. According to Professor Alex German, head of the Weight Management Clinic at Liverpool University, 65% of dogs in the UK are now overweight or obese*, which can lead to weight-related health problems.
At Guide Dogs, the health and welfare of our dogs are paramount. With nutritional support and advice from Royal Canin, each of our dogs is prescribed a specific diet and quantity of food relative to its individual needs.
Guide dog owners can, however, find it difficult to accurately measure the correct amount of food. Research has shown that when using cups to measure food, dog owners in general feed up to 80% more than they should. Scales are recommended, but many people with sight loss are unable to use standard kitchen scales.
Our partner Royal Canin is helping us address this problem with a recently launched pilot scheme, by funding the provision of digital talking scales to 200 guide dog owners. The aim is to support them with the ongoing weight management of their dogs.
Teresa, who lives in the West Midlands with her guide dog Baden, is one of the first recipients of a set of talking scales. Before receiving the scales, it took Teresa approximately 10 minutes every day to count out 200 pieces of kibble individually for Baden. That's 61 hours per year or 427 hours in total since she got Baden seven years ago!
Teresa manually counted the kibble as she understood the importance of ensuring Baden was not over or underfed, maintaining his optimal weight. However, this was sometimes difficult as well as time-consuming. She explained, "If I was distracted by the phone or doorbell when counting, I sometimes had to start all over again. If I spilled any kibble, I wasn't sure if it had gone into the bowl or hit the floor, so I had to recount!"
The scales are brilliant; actually, they are amazing. I love them and am so grateful to Royal Canin.
Teresa, guide dog owner
It now takes Teresa a fraction of the time to weigh out Baden's food each day. Teresa said, "The scales are brilliant; actually, they are amazing and the best thing I've ever had. I love them and I am so grateful to Royal Canin."
Martyn Cherry, PRO National Key Account Manager for Royal Canin said, "It feels so good that as a business we continue to make a difference in people's lives by supporting this simple task that we take for granted."
The scales have given Teresa 49 hours of her time back per year. Another benefit has been her ability to weigh out ingredients to make cakes for the first time. Something her partner Carl is very happy about too!
The pilot is one of several weight management initiatives that Royal Canin is supporting Guide Dogs with, plus involvement in numerous fundraising and sponsorship activities.
It feels so good that as a business we continue to make a difference in people's lives by supporting this simple task that we take for granted.
Martyn Cherry, PRO National Key Account Manager, Royal Canin
*Source: German, A.J., Woods, G.T., Holden, S.L., Brennan, L. and Burke, C. (2018). Dangerous trends in pet obesity. Veterinary Record; 182 (1).
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