Pet obesity is a serious and avoidable pet health issue.
How to Estimate the Right Serving Size for Your Dog
The verdict is in. And the results confirm what you’d always thought… Overweight dogs don’t live as long as normal weight dogs. According to a recent study published in a respected veterinary journal1overweight dogs suffer from a higher incidence of these life-shortening diseases…
- Oral disease
So, how much should you feed your dog to ensure his health?
Well, don’t just blindly follow the directions on a dog food package. That’s because manufacturers like to “hedge” by suggesting an overly broad “range” of serving sizes. For example, a bag of kibble might read… “for dogs from 5 to 15 pounds feed 1/2… to… 1-1/2 cups a day”. Wow. That’s a monstrously wide range… a 200% variation! It’s simply not precise enough. If you follow that advice you’ll be guessing. You could be significantly overfeeding… or underfeeding your dog. Misjudging a serving size by even a small amount… and then feeding that same amount day-in and day-out… multiplies the error. And it could have a devastating effect on your dog’s health.
Don’t Guess… Follow These Three Easy Steps
When deciding how much to feed your dog… never guess. Be scientific. Always calculate and measure.
Use the Dog Food Calculator and follow these three simple steps…
- Step 1 – Enter your dog’s ideal weight
- Step 2 – Select your dog’s life stage and activity level
- Step 3 – Insert your dog food’s “calories per serving”
Then, use a measuring cup or a scale… and feed the calculated amount. Of course, keep in mind… results are approximate. Certain breeds and conditions may require some adjustment. And please remember… the calculator assumes your dog is at or near his ideal weight. So, be flexible. If your dog appears to be overweight… or underweight… substitute something closer to “ideal” for your weight entry. By the way… the calculator is for adult dogs only. Puppies require their own special feeding program. Once again… never guess. Always measure each serving. And check your dog’s weight once a month or so. Over time, you’ll be glad you did.
The Health Risks of Obesity
Obesity can cause serious health and welfare problems, and make existing problems worse. This can reduce the length and quality of a pet’s life.
Some serious medical conditions associated with obesity are:
- heart disease
- respiratory distress
- high blood pressure
- joint and mobility issues
Obesity is also likely to affect a pet’s ability to perform natural behaviors (e.g. exercise normally).
Obesity can be defined as an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare and quality of life. It can affect all types of pet, and the main cause is from eating too much or not exercising enough, although some diseases can cause obesity.
Obesity in people is generally 20% above ideal body weight. This is similar in pets; however, 20% in small cats and dogs can equal just a few extra pounds. 20% for a 10 pound Chihuahua is only 2 extra pounds.
We believe obesity is a serious welfare issue in pets because it:
- Can cause a lot of unnecessary suffering and can be extremely disabling.
- Can affect animals for long periods.
- Is a preventable and detectable problem!
Include Your Pets in Healthy Weight Resolutions this Year
Unleashed by Petco creates awareness for healthy pets with their in-store weigh-in challenge
- Before starting a weight loss program, visit a veterinarian to find out a pet’s ideal weight. Major weight fluctuations could indicate there may be an underlying health issue.
- Pet parents are usually unaware that their pets’ food portion sizes are too large so portion control is key. When feeding pets, create markings on the cup or scoop, especially if children are feeding pets so everyone knows the correct serving size.
- Break down meals into two to four small portions throughout the day to trick pets into feeling like they’re eating more.
- Serve high protein and low fat food to keep pets full, and remember treats should be no more than 10 percent of caloric intake.
- Pets should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Although walks can be good for both pet and pet parents, home exercise techniques are great for days when lengthy walks outdoors are not an option. Coaching dogs to do doggy push-ups by asking them to “sit”, “lay down” and “sit” again can keep them just as active. Inviting another pet parent and their pet for some play time in the backyard is another great option for keeping pets active.
- Keep an eye on pets’ behavior when on a weight loss program. If they feel hungry, it can result in abnormal eating habits, such as digging in trashcans or eating backyard plants. Behavior awareness will help pet parents evaluate the program and make necessary changes.
Similar to people, the main causes are a poor diet and overeating. Unlike human adults, dogs are not responsible for their obesity, their people are. If I left out a five pound food for my dogs, I’m quite certain that they would eat all the food in front of them, even after they were full. Give your pet enough high quality food for them to be satisfied, feed twice a day (as free feeding is another cause of obesity), and keep their amounts consistent. If you use treats for training, make sure the amount of treats they receive during training are deducted from their mealtime kibble.
Ez Vet kiosk is a convenient way to monitor your pet’s weight and make sure they are not gaining too much weight. It’s free, convenient and reliable.
Primary Risks of Excess Weight in Pets
- Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart and Respiratory Disease
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
- Kidney Disease
- Many Forms of Cancer
- Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)