Are you concerned that your dog is overweight? Do you often wonder if your pup is eating too much, too fast? Are you overfeeding your dog?
Overeating is not something to be taken lightly and generally comes with two serious health risks— obesity and canine bloat. The good news is that both can be avoided when given the proper level of care, including regular trips to the vet. To give you some background before your next appointment, here are a few facts, symptoms, and preventive measures to consider when it comes to feeding your pup.
Signs of an Overweight Dog
It is much more difficult to tell if a dog is pudgy or not, which is why it is best to get your vet’s help. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can look for. Regardless of breed, you should generally be able to feel each and every rib along your dog’s back and sides. If you can’t, this could be a sign of excess body fat. Another characteristic of a healthy dog is having a wider chest to abdomen and a clear distinction between their chest and stomach. If your dog is obese, it will be difficult to tell where the belly ends, and the chest begins.
Dogs are Carnivores… Mostly
When it comes to gaining or shedding pounds, humans and dogs are both subject to the same equation of calories consumed versus calories burned. However, there are still some major differences. Because canine DNA traces back to the timber wolf, your dog has a natural carnivorous bias. This means that their body is primarily optimized for eating meat. If your dog’s kibble is high in grain or other carbohydrates, this may be contributing to their weight gain. However, it is still up for debate just how purely carnivorous your furry friend really is, which is why there is a spectrum of diverse formulas with varying ratios of protein, fat, and grain.
Analyzing Your Dog’s Food Intake
Understanding how to properly feed your dog starts with analyzing the food you’re feeding them now. In addition to the brand, ingredients, and nutritional facts of your dog’s food, it’s helpful to know the recommended portion listed on the packaging. However, this should only be used as a baseline. You’ll want to consult with your vet for a more refined recommendation that takes into consideration other important factors like breed, activity level, age, and known health issues. Before your next checkup, try and keep a food diary as well, taking note of how many treats and table scraps your pup is getting each day.
The Serious Risk of Canine Bloat
Another complication from overfeeding is known as gastric torsion or canine bloat. When large amounts of content enter the stomach, gasses begin to expand as part of the digestion process. When the stomach is unable to keep up with the intake, it inflates like a balloon. When severe, the stomach twists on both ends, cutting itself off from the digestive tract and blood supply. If caught early enough, this condition can be reversed. However, once stomach tissue becomes necrotized, there is no way to repair it. Symptoms to look out for include lethargy, a noticeably large or hard stomach, standing with a wider than usual stance, anxious behavior, shallow breathing, and constipation. If you think your pup is experiencing canine bloat, it is important to seek emergency vet care immediately.
Things You Can Do to Prevent Overeating
Aside from figuring out the ideal portion control for your furry friend, there are other things you can do to help prevent the risks of obesity and canine bloat. One option is to purchase a slow feeder that makes eating more of a fun challenge. You can also try splitting up a single meal into 2-3 smaller portions fed throughout the day so that your pup won’t feel as starved when they eat. Another trick is to stagger exercise with their feeding schedule, always giving them at least 1 hour of rest before and after each meal. When they are riled up from exercise, they are more likely to eat fast. You can also try removing your dog’s water bowl during their feeding time. When a dog is vigorously gulping water, they are taking in air, which can add to the buildup in their stomach. Just make sure to return their water bowl once they have laid down to rest after their meal.
Always remember to let your vet know about any changes that you make in your pup’s feeding regimen, as well as to alert them of any signs indicating weight gain or canine bloat. It may take some trial and error, but it will be well worth it once you’ve figured out the perfect eating routine for your fur baby. It could even help to extend their quality and length of life.