Nutrition

3 minutes reading time (512 words)

Pudgy pooches - Is your dog too fat?

Is your dog overweight? Could he stand to shed a few pounds? Many owners don't really know when their canine friends are overweight. Since we see them every day, we may not really notice the changes that they may be going through.

Experts estimate that 25 to 40 percent of dogs in North America are overweight (more than 20 percent heavier than their ideal weight). The more excess weight a dog carries, the higher the risk to his health. Some of these dangers include high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart and liver ailments, spinal problems and breathing difficulties.

There are some very basic observations you can make to determine if your dog is getting too fat. When standing over your dog do you see an hourglass shape? If so, then he probably doesn't have a major weight problem. However, if you see his sides protruding, then its quite likely that your dog is overweight.

You can also run your hand over your dogs ribs. If you can feel them easily under a thin layer of skin and fat, then he is probably okay. If not, then some changes are in order.

Its always best to take your dog to your veterinarian before making any significant changes to his diet. Consult with the vet so that you can make sure that your diet plan will still include nutrients the dog needs.

One thing is certain: table scraps and high calorie treats must be eliminated.

Take your dog for daily walks and establish regular play and exercise periods. This activity will be helpful for both you and your dog.

Substitute low calorie goodies for higher calorie treats. A few healthy snacks include carrots, apples, green beans, cottage cheese and broccoli. And yes, in most cases, your dog will eagerly devour them. You may also want to prepare your own nutritious dog treats at home (see below).

Adult dogs, like adult humans, don't lose weight easily or quickly. A proper low calorie, healthy diet will result in a very gradual weight loss.

For puppies, it is very important that you keep a close eye on your pups food intake. We all know that it's hard to resist those puppy dog eyes. However, in the long term, its one of the wisest things you can do for your pooch.

Most veterinarians agree that puppies should be fed only dog food that is specifically formulated for puppies. Initially feeding should be four times a day for approximately three months. Then reduce feedings to three times a day for the next three months and after six months, switch to twice a day. Then, at one year of age, switch to once daily feeding. At that time you should also make the switch to adult dog food, and monitor his weight on a regular basis.

Dogs that are at the proper weight are usually happier and more energetic. At times, we may simply fail to pay attention and don't realize the impact that our decisions about what we feed out dogs can have on their overall health and longevity.

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