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How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

A Big Problem

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United State found that about 23 to 41 percent of dogs in the U.S. were obese. Similar studies in other countries have produced similar findings. Why are our dogs so fat? Well, the main reason is because we are feeding them too much.

Why Are So Many Dogs Overweight?

Many people equate food with love when it comes to their dogs. They canít stand for their dog to look at them with sad eyes or go to their dish and find it empty. Instead of exercising some control over their dogís diet they may keep food in the bowl constantly and give too many treats. While this may make your dog happy itís not good for his waistline or his health.

It's also true that many people truly canít tell that their dog is overweight. When they see dogs that are maintained at a proper, healthy weight they believe they are ďtoo skinny.Ē They think that their own overweight dog is living at a correct, healthy weight. Many veterinarians report that owners donít believe them when they tell them that their dog are overweight.

Health Risks

Being overweight or obese has serious health consequences for your dog. It can shorten his life. Obesity can result in diabetes mellitus, heart disease, respiratory problems, flatulence and digestive problems, worsen arthritis, make joint problems worse, immune system issues, coat and skin problems such as allergies, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease the dogís liver function.

Is Your Dog Overweight?

If you arenít sure if your dog is overweight there are several ways you can find out. First of all, you can ask your veterinarian for an opinion. Most vets will be happy to discuss your dogís weight with you.

Second, you can check your dogís condition against a dog weight chart. Weight charts have pictures of dogs and descriptions of their conditions to help you determine where your dog fits on the scale. They will show images of dogs ranging from severely obese to emaciated. You can find where on the chart your dog fits.

Third, you can check your dog yourself. To do this you simply need to try to be objective. Place your hands on your dog and see if you can find his ribs. With a dog in good physical shape and at the proper weight you should be able to feel his ribs. You should not be able to see your dogís ribs but you should be able to feel them. If you canít feel your dogís ribs then your dog is overweight. If you feel nothing but flab then your dog is likely obese. You can move backwards toward your dogís flank. A fit dog will have a moderate tuck up behind his ribs. This is his waist area and fit dogs do have a waist. If your dog has not tuck up or waist then heís likely overweight or obese. Finally, viewed from above, your dog should not be shaped like a table top. That means he should not be flat and rectangular. If you can set a tray down on your dogís back then heís overweight or obese.

Other signs that your dog is overweight or obese include waddling when itís not appropriate for the breed and huffing and puffing with mild exertion.

How Much Should You Feed Per Day?

When it comes to how much you should feed your dog daily itís usually a good idea to start with the amount suggested by the manufacturer of the food you are feeding, with a couple of caveats. First, these are simply guidelines. In most cases feeding trials will not have been conducted using dogs like yours. This means that you will have to keep a close eye on your dog and adjust the amount of food you feed depending on whether he is gaining or losing weight.

Secondly, the amount of food you feed is only one consideration. You will also have to make sure that you measure your dogís portions. If you are simply guessing at how much food youíre putting in the pan then you really donít know how much youíre feeding. If you are feeding your dog with other pets, again, you donít know how much extra food he may be eating. Feed him separately. If you are giving your dog fattening treats or scraps from the table, cut them way back or eliminate them. Give him something low-fat instead as a treat such as carrots or apple slices. And, your dogís weight will also depend on how much exercise heís getting. Consider increasing his exercise.

In short, dogs become overweight for the same reasons as people. Watch what you feed your dog and feed your dog in moderation and you can keep him from becoming overweight or obese.


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