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Have you ever found yourself wondering whether or not your dog has put on a few extra pounds?
If so, you’re not alone. Following your own nutrition and exercise routine is hard enough. Helping your dog stay on track is even harder.
Just like humans, though, dogs suffer all the negatives and side effects of being overweight, like diabetes, joint damage, and heart disease.
However, unlike you and I, they have no control over it, which is why stepping up as a pet parent should be one of your main priorities.
Cute and Pudgy Vs. Unhealthy and Overweight
Can you tell the difference?
Most people have no idea how to tell whether or not their dog is at a healthy weight. They simply go about their usual routine, feeding and playing with their pup as it fits into their schedules, and call it a day.
Over time, it’s tough to realize a dog’s gained weight - especially if it happens slowly. When you see them everyday, it’s hard to notice any significant changes.
Your dog could be too thin if:
Their bones are visibly obvious, even from a distance.
They have a loss of muscle mass.
You cannot feel any fat on their bodies.
Their ribs are clearly visible, and you can feel the individual bones.
Bones are visible at the base of their tale.
Your dog is likely at an ideal weight if:
You can see and feel their ribs, but a thin layer of fat covers them.
They have a clear waistline.
There is a small layer of fat at the base of their tale.
Your dog could be overweight if:
You can’t feel or see their ribs.
There is a significant amount of fat at the base of their tale.
You can’t feel your dog’s spine because of too much fat coverage.
They have no visible waistline.
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How And Why You Should Weigh Your Dog
You’ve just learned how to determine whether or not your dog is at a healthy weight by sight and touch, but knowing their actual weight in pounds is an equally important factor.
We all know food and exercise play some of the most vital roles in staying healthy - for humans and animals alike. The best way to determine how much food we need is by basing it off our weight.
Put simply, smaller dogs need less food. Larger dogs need more.
Knowing how much they weigh is the most straight forward factor in determining how much to feed them.
To weigh your dog at home:
1. Weigh yourself.
2. Weigh yourself while holding your dog.
3. Calculate the difference.
Trust us, following these simple steps is far, far easier than getting your dog to sit patiently on the scale while you stand by and watch.
Of course, if you’re a big-dog lover, you might be shaking your head, “no way.”
Fair enough. The good news is, you’ll be hard pressed to find a vet who won’t be willing to put your dog on the scale, even with no scheduled appointment. Call ahead to make sure, and the next time you’re out with your pup, swing by the office for a quick weigh-in.
How To Choose The Right Dog Food
Knowing your dog’s weight will guide you on how much to feed them. The tricky part is deciding what to feed them.
Too many people overlook this choice when it comes to their dog. If you’re someone who’s been grabbing the same brand pet food, year after year, out of habit, consider rethinking your ways.
For one, the horrifying ingredients going into many commercial dog foods will leave you cringing at the idea of it ending up in a food bowl.
On the other hand, even if the food is all-natural, your dog could be lacking in nutrients or suffering from sensitivities.
To choose the right food, we always suggest starting with your vet. They’ll be able to evaluate what your dog should and shouldn’t eat. They’ll also help you determine serving sizes and appropriate meal times. Always begin by consulting with a professional.
Unless you have the time, resources, and know-how to prepare a raw diet for your dog, stick to high quality, pre-prepared food. Raw diets can be advantageous, but they’re easily done wrong, which can cause more harm than good.
Tip: Those tiny treats you feed your dog throughout the day might be adding a surprising amount of calories to their diet. Make sure you monitor how much you give them, and always ensure the treats are 100% natural.
If opting for store-bought food, consider the following criteria:
The food is made from quality meat, not “byproducts.”
It’s preserved with vitamin E or other all-natural preservatives (no chemicals).
The ingredient list shows no fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.
The food is grain free and made with novel proteins if your dog suffers from allergies.
The food is appropriate for your dog’s weight and age.
How Much Exercise Should My Dog Get?
Exercise is the second part of the “healthy weight” equation. You might have the nutrition down, but if your dog isn’t getting any physical activity, their health will suffer.
For small dogs like Yorkshire terriers, aim for about 20 minutes of very slow jogging or stimulating games like tag or hide and seek each day.
Larger dogs, on the other hand, tend to need longer and more intense exercise. If you have a Labrador, for example, plan a 30-40 minute swim session multiple times throughout the week.
For more detail on your breed, use this dog exercise chart as a guide for how much and what type of physical activity your pup needs.
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When To Consult A Vet
If you’re not quite sure your dog is at a healthy weight or you’ve noticed some changes that have you worrying, always plan a visit to your vet.
Likewise, if your dog experiences any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
You can’t see or feel their ribs due to excess fat.
They have no definitive waist, or their body looks more “round” than defined.
They’re too overweight to lick or groom themselves properly (their excess fat inhibits movement).
They have no stamina for walks or playtime.
They struggle to get up and down from the floor, couch, or bed.
They’re experiencing gastrointestinal problems.
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You’ll never need to be concerned with low quality imported products, or overly processed dog bones, jerky, or other treats. Shop now and treat your dog to something special.
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