How to stop your dog becoming overweight
It is always the big question how much should I feed my dog, especially when they can’t tell you when they are hungry or full. Feed them too much, they may get fat and are at a higher risk of developing serious health problems; feed them too little and they become scavengers and eat anything that looks like it might have a taste.
There is no right or wrong answer and every dog is different, it is sometimes just trial and error what suits your dog best, however these factors will heavily influence how much food a day your dog needs:
- Breed and size
- Current life-stage (Age)
- Exercise levels
- Climate(Time of year)
Some dogs will never turn down food even when they’re not hungry some dogs just love to eat and others will pick at their food and take their time, each dog has their own individual eating habits. Follow these top tips when deciding on the portion size of your dog’s meals:
Provide a Nutritionally Balanced Diet
It may be a recipe based on the vet’s advice or a commercial recommended formula; whatever diet you choose for your dog make sure it is nutritionally balanced and keep it consistent. Veterinary nutritionist’s advice will be tailored to your dog’s needs and what they think is best. If you are going with commercial recommendations it will say in the ingredients on the pack what the food contains, enabling you to provide your dog with a balanced diet. If it doesn’t agree with your dog’s body it will soon become apparent, change the dog’s food or seek a vet’s advice if you are unsure what is best.
Measure, Measure, Measure!
This is essential when you are trying to work out how much to feed your dog. Use a measuring tool or something in the kitchen that will ensure you are feeding your dog exactly the same amount each meal.
Learn to Titrate
The right amount of food is determined through trial and error. You may have to increase and decrease food amounts over time until you achieve the right daily portion. For example you may start off feeding one tin of food a day and see that your dog is getting overweight, your vet can determine a healthy weight for the particular breed. You may then start to reduce the amount by a spoonful a day until the dog reaches a healthy weight. Vice versa if the dog is looking underweight for the breed you may gradually start increasing the amount you feed per day by a spoonful until the dog reaches a healthy weight and you can continue feeding the dog the correct amount.
Don’t Forget That Treats Count
Treats are food too, and they’re usually more calorically dense, so take into consideration how many treats you are feeding your dog per day when calculating how much food they have.
Amount of Exercise
The amount of food intake should take into account the amount of regular exercise (or lack of) your dog gets each day. If your dog is very active, running everywhere they go you may want to increase the amount of food to avoid them becoming underweight. However if your dog is not walked at least once every day the food they consume will not be burnt off and therefore you may need to decrease the amount they eat daily to avoid obesity.
You can expect the age of your dog to affect their metabolism (like our own) slows down, along with their reduced activity means they can be prone to becoming overweight, this can put an unnecessary strain on their body. Therefore give elderly dogs a little less food every year or try switching to dog food which is designed for senior dogs which have a lower fat content.
Use these tips as a guide when feeding your dog and remember your vet can always give you advice on how much specifically your dog requires on a daily basis.