Is Your Dog Fat?
By Hope Saidel
Is your dog one of the majority who’s getting “loved” to death? Overweight dogs face the same health problems as overweight humans; increased risk of heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, the list goes on and on.
One of the problems is the dog food companies themselves. The charts they offer on bags of dry food more closely reflect the amounts that top-athlete dogs should consume, not our everyday, couch-potato pets. We’re not exempt from blame, but it is hard to resist those soulful puppy eyes.
There are some tips and tricks for “treating” your dog without packing on the pounds. First; use a food appropriate for your dog’s activity level. Most of our dogs don’t need the high-performance (read high-fat, high-protein) foods. “Light,” or senior dry dog foods provide all the nutrition our dogs need, without quite as many calories.
Another mistake many people make is to “free feed” their dogs. They leave dry dog food out all day, assuming that the dog will eat what it needs, when it needs it. It’s just not true. And without regular meal times, it’s very difficult to housetrain a dog. You don’t know when the dog needs to go because it has no regular eating/elimination timetable. Most veterinarians recommend feeding dogs twice a day, so give half in the morning and half in the evening.
Leave a measuring cup in the container of kibble. Measure a precise amount at a set time every day. Leave the food down for 15 minutes. If the dog doesn’t eat – it will have another chance next time.
It’s not easy to do. Most of our dogs have us very well trained. They are wonderful actors who have perfected that “lean and hungry” look. But it’s our job as responsible pet owners to take control and do the right thing for our charges.
If your dog seems hungry all the time, there are low-calorie, healthful “tricks” experienced dog people use. One is to add canned green beans to the dog’s dry food – adding bulk to the diet with few calories. Another tasty, low-calorie addition is canned pumpkin. Most dogs love the taste and tolerate either one very well.
When you do give your dog treats, and we all do, make sure your dog “works” for the goodies. Use a toy designed to release treats as the dog plays with it, or use the treats as a reward for learning new behaviors and tricks. Make your dog “earn” his treats and use high-quality dog treats that are the right size for your dog. If it’s more than a one bite, it’s a meal, not a treat.
The best thing of all, for both of you, is to get moving. Get out and walk with your dog. Studies have shown that both owner’s and dog’s health improves when we go walking with our dogs. It’s just a coincidence that it’s fun, too.
About The Author
Hope Saidel is the co-owner of Golly Gear (http://www.GollyGear.com
), a bricks-and-mortar and online small dog shop featuring fun, affordable and practical products for small dogs. She has trained and competed in Obedience with small dogs for over a decade and is on the Board of Directors of the North Shore Dog Training Club. Check out her blog: http://www.gollygear.blogspot.com
. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions to Hope@GollyGear.com