Sporting Shooter vet Vicky Payne answers a reader’s question about their elderly, overweight labrador

Question: My father recently passed away and I am now responsible for his elderly, overweight labrador, Trigger. Due to my father’s ill health Trigger hasn’t been out for a walk in some time. Can you advise me how best to get some weight off him and what exercise it will be safe for him to do?

Vicky Payne replies: First, take him to your vet to have him checked over. He may be suffering heart problems or arthritis which would affect how much you can exercise him. With an all clear, or his problems treated, you should start with gentle, short lead walks. Most unfit dogs cope best with several shorter walks than one longer one. As he gets fitter, extend the walks and allow some off-lead exercise but avoid throwing toys or dummies until he’s much fitter. Ask your vet to recommend a suitable food for his age then feed the amount required for the weight he should be. Strictly ration treats and take their weight out of his daily ration. Good luck.