Ahh, the joy of getting the question. Unfortunately, “Is my dog fat?” is not a question we get a lot. I wish we did! We have so much to teach about your dog’s diet and nutrition, the affect that diet has on behavior, and what ingredients in canine nutrition that cause the most problems.
One of the most common things we see is dogs who are overweight. It’s not surprising, because many of us are overweight too. We turn to food for comfort, and we comfort our dogs with extra food. As lovable, food motivated-animals, they’re not going to turn food down, so they won’t tell you when they’ve had enough. They can’t decipher when they need to cut back. They need you to do that for them.
Many people don’t know that veterinarians don’t get a lot of training related to nutrition. This is actually not just an animal-related problem. I have Crohn’s Disease, and even my specialist doesn’t have much to say about my diet. But in the case of animals, vets are more educated in how to sell Science Diet than they are in why to sell it (or not to, in most cases). Science Diet and other big brands actually spend lots of money giving vet students food and info in vet school – kind of like how credit card companies market themselves to college kids. Because of all that work on the front end, vets are more likely to sell Science Diet when they get out of school. From vets and others, it’s common to hear advice about low fat foods when your dog is overweight, but the truth is, it’s not about the amount of fat in the foods we feed. Just like you, dogs need to eat LESS food and EXERCISE more!
I know. You feel BAD! You don’t want to deprive your best friend of the things he loves most! And why would you want all that leftover dinner to go to waste? It may ease your guilt to give your dog lots of food, treats and tablescraps, but a little reduction in quantity can go a long way toward getting your dog closer to her optimal health. And extra weight on your dog can bring on a slew of health problems including a fatty liver, extra pressure on their joints causing arthritis, and increased strain on her heart and lungs, among many other things.
Let’s say you normally feed your pup 4 cups a day but you know she needs to lose 10+ pounds. You can probably reduce the food to 2 cups a day, and over time you’ll see your dog slim down. This amount will vary greatly depending on the age, activity level and weight of your pup. You want to be able to feel your dogs ribs – that’s a good sign that he’s in good health.
As always, the staff at DogBoy’s is happy to talk to you about your dog’s diet, and how we can help you get your dog into tip top shape. Unlike other people you may talk to, we’ll tell you the truth about your dog’s ideal weight, what foods can help you get there, and how much you should be feeding your dog.
To get a good start, download our Diet Sheet and learn a little something about ingredients to avoid, ingredients to look for, and local pet retailers in Austin who sell high quality foods. On another note, if you need help with your own food issues, DogBoy can totally hook you up.
A big thank you to Jeremy Vandel on Flickr for this great photo!