Has Anyone Ever Called Your Dog Fat?
That one friend, who can't keep their mouth shut, sees your dog after a couple of months. The first words they mutter, "Your dog looks like a sausage! Wow, he got fat!" Your first reaction is to tell that person to shove it. But then, after they've returned home, you look at your dog and wonder, "Were they right? Is Fido a chunker? If so, what do I do? What's the appropriate weight?"
I sympathize with both parties in this case. When you see an animal that you love everyday, you don't notice if they've gained or lost a few pounds unless you're really paying attention. On the other hand, I've seen some dogs so obese that I wanted to scream. We all know that being overweight is a health hazard, so here are some tips to help get it right.
Tip #1: Know what ideal weight looks like- There are so many fat dogs out there, that many people don't even know what a healthy dog looks like. On the right is a weight chart. Notice what the dogs look like from the top view. You should be able to see the "waist line." Also pay attention to the dog's ribs. When you pet the side of the dog, you should be able to feel their ribs easily. If you have to dig, the pup is too big!
Tip #2: Don't love with food- Want to reward your pup for good behavior? Why not take them for a walk, teach them a new trick, or play fetch? In my interaction with dogs, there's one thing that seems to hold true accross the board. Dogs want to spend time with their owners. When you leave the house, your dog wants to go with you. I've heard some people complain that their dog doesn't want to play with a new toy or ball that they purchased, but the real issue is that most dogs don't want to play alone. They want time with you! There is no reason to give a treat every time they do something that they do something mundane.
Tip #3: Dogs don't get to choose what they eat- There are many philosophies on what the best diet for a dog is. Do some research and pick the best option, but keep in mind that animals don't get to choose. Humans can eat fast food, paleo, Atkins, comfort food, etc. but our animals rely on us to make those decisions for them...so make the best decision you can. If you love your dog, do what you can to keep them around. Want your dog to be healthier and not beg for food? Stop feeding them human food!
Tip #4: Portion control- No excuses here, we all have control over the portions our animals eat. Beware the recommendations on the package. Those are designed to sell more food! Weigh your dog regularly to see if they're gaining or losing weight. It's really easy if you can pick up your dog. Stand on the scale alone, then with your dog and do some math! If they're too heavy, swing by the vet. They are happy to see their patients when nothing is wrong!
Tip #5: Use common sense- Many people observe their dogs declining food and add more delicious components (wet food added to dry kibble, fruits and vegetables or cold cuts, etc), but usually it's not necessary. It's not to say that a dog rejecting food is good. As a matter of fact, a healthy dog shouldn't reject food. But a fat dog might not be hungry and that's OK. Because dogs are descendants of wolves, they're more capable of skipping meals than humans. In the wild, they don't get fed on a schedule; just when they find a meal!
Tip #6: Schedule feedings- Dogs will eat when bored! Leave food down for 15 minutes and then pick it up. If they don't eat all the food, it's OK. Again, a healthy dog should be hungry, but as long as you're monitoring their food intake and weight regularly, it's not a concern.
Tip #7: A few pounds is too many- If you're carrying around an extra 10 pounds, it's a minor inconvenience. When a dog's ideal weight is 40 lbs, an extra 10 is a BIG deal. Be strict with your dog's health and make sure they stay at an ideal weight.
It's important to remember that fixing this issue is easy. Cut a dog's food by a small percentage and weigh them at least weekly. Then adjust accordingly. There's no rush to ge the weight off, so if it takes a couple of months, that's no problem. Keep your faithful companion living longer and living healthier. Watch that weight! Learn more about your pet's health HERE!