With pet obesity on the rise, it’s important to know if you are feeding your dog the right amount. Obesity leads to a slew of health problems that can result in an early death for your best friend. However, it can be confusing and difficult to determine how much your dog should be getting, especially if she acts like she is “always hungry.”
A Few Simple Rules
The first step is to follow these simple rules.
1. Do Not Free Feed! Free feeding not only makes it impossible to know how much your dog is actually eating, but most dogs do not regulate themselves and will eat WAY too much. Free feeding wastes your money, makes it hard to tell if your dog is not eating (a sign he may be ill), and can also encourage guarding behavior.
2. Do Not Trust The Bag Label! Think about it, the manufacturer wants you to feed your dog more food, because then you buy more food. Simple marketing. Every bag of dog food I have ever read has asked me to feed my dog some ridiculous amount of food. Do not just read the label and trust that it is right. Dogs are individuals and yours needs an individualized diet based on her health, age, size, and activity level.
3. Do Consult Your Vet! If you are unsure about how much to feed your dog, ask your vet for help determining the right amount for your dog.
4. Do Monitor Your Dog. Just like with your own weight, you need to check your dog’s frequently by feeling their body structure (can you feel the ribs or do you just feel fat?) as well as by weighing them on a scale to make sure their weight is staying consistent. A drastic change can mean they have a health problem.
How to Determine You Are Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount
The most important question is:
Is my dog at the right weight for his breed/size and age? If no, continue to the following questions to help determine how you need to alter your dog’s feeding regime.
- Dogs tend to gain weight as the get older…have you reduced your food accordingly to maintain his healthy weight?
- If your dog is an athlete, is he thin enough to keep unneeded stress off his joints without being too skinny?
- If your dog needs to lose weight, did you reduce the amount of food and increase activity enough to promote a healthy rate of weight loss?
- For your growing puppy, are you feeding her enough to grow properly? Remember large breed dogs are going to need more food than smaller breed puppies of the same age.
Did you answer “no” to any of these questions? If so, contact your veterinarian to adjust your feeding amount to ensure your dog stays healthy and lives a long and happy life.
About the Author
Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.
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