No pet owner would ever want their beloved pooch to go hungry. But most often, this excessive care can cause your dog to become plumper than normal. And while a plump-looking dog may seem cute and adorable, it can also mean serious health problems starting with obesity.
According to Pet MD, obesity in dogs is commonly due to an imbalance between a canine’s energy intake and caloric usage. Eating more than what your pooch can expend will put him at risk of many health conditions, including:
Even if your pooch isn’t sick, his heavyweight can still affect his quality of life. Unlike other dogs with normal weight, your canine friend may be unable to move much during playtime or groom himself to stay clean. To prevent this from happening to your pet, here’s what you can do.
1. Determine first if your pet is overweight
Dogs vary in breed and size so what may appear to be obese in other canine varieties may be normal for your dog’s kind. Check the recommended weight for your pooch from your vet. Instead of trying to fit your dog into a generic weight ranking system, the vet will find your dog’s body score to see if the amount of fat covering his body is normal.
2. Develop the right food habits
As much as possible, start good eating habits while your dog is still young. If you resort to overfeeding, it’s more likely that he will grow into an overweight dog. Even if your dog begs, feed him only the right amount of food.
Keep in mind that most dogs always seem and feel hungry so don’t get tricked into giving him extras the moment he starts begging or looks at you with his cute puppy dog eyes. Depending on your canine’s age, lifestyle, and medical condition, his body will require a certain amount of calories:
Don’t leave food out.
Leaving your dog’s food bowl full all the time will increase the chances of him overeating. There are some canines who don’t know when to stop eating, and they’ll continue to do so even when not hungry. Practice structured meal times where you spread what he eats over 2 to 3 meals a day.
Choose high-quality food
It’s important to ensure that your pooch is given a balanced diet through high-quality dog food. If you’re into giving treats, only use:
Every after several weeks, evaluate how your pooch is responding to the food you’re giving him. If he seems unhappy with it or is somehow gaining weight, you may need to consider changing his food. Start by gradually reducing the amount of food he gets by 5 or 10 percent so that your dog won’t be alarmed by the sudden change.
3. Encourage regular exercise
Your dog can gain weight because he consumes more calories than what he burns. To combat this, exercise is essential. At least once a day, give your dog adequate exercise. It doesn’t have to be a scripted exercise program. A simple playtime with dog toys, off-leash runs, or a walk in the park is a great way to ensure that your pooch gets the exercise he needs.
Take note that you shouldn’t exercise your pooch before or after eating as it may cause problems like bloating which can be fatal.
Schedule different activities
So your dog doesn’t get bored, pick various physical activities to do. If you have an overly energetic pooch, find fun things that he can do to wear him out. Some fun activities that can help your dog get the exercise he needs may include swimming, fetch, or letting him play with other dogs.
The key to maintaining healthy dog weight depends a lot on constant monitoring. Check your furry friend’s body score often by visiting the vet regularly.
Even if you love your dog, don’t let your love lead you to overfeed him as too much of anything is never good.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.