One of the questions that we get asked the most from patients is, “Is my dog’s weight healthy?” Just as for humans, maintaining a proper diet and exercise routine is essential in ensuring that we stay within our recommended weight range. Weight isn’t just about the looks. It can indicate heart health, respiratory health, musculoskeletal condition, and overall well-being.
In this article, we’re going to be focusing on diet tips for your dog! Nutritional requirements vary greatly based on breed, size, age, gender, pregnancy, and more so what works for one dog may not be the best for another. As always, these are general suggestions and should be discussed with your veterinarian before incorporating any change.
Know How Much and When to Feed Your Dog
It may be easy to forget if you’ve fed your dog and hand out an extra serving accidentally or eyeball what goes in their bowls but keeping your dog on a strict schedule is much better in the long run than caving into their puppy eyes at the dinner table. An extra treat occasionally won’t hurt but if they’re consuming more than 5 to 10% of their daily diet in table scraps or treats, this may lead your dog’s weight to trend toward obesity. Also, try to train your dog to respond to forms of praise that aren’t food-related, such as a verbal affirmation and a warm belly scratch. That way if you begin cutting down their snack profile, they won’t treat it as a punishment.
For puppies younger than six months, they should be fed three to four times daily. This changes to twice a day when they pass the six-month milestone. When they are adults, their eating pattern changes to one or two feedings. The meals should be in the morning and at night. Do not leave the bowls out for them, even if they haven’t finished all of the food. As a rule of thumb, ask your veterinarian. They can better adjust how many meals and how much based on how active your dog is as well.
Know What Foods to Avoid to Keep Your Dog’s Weight Healthy
Avoid feeding your dogs chocolate, chicken on the bone, salt-rich foods, raw meat, grapes, raisins, and onions. Eating too many of these kinds of foods can negatively affect your dog’s weight and health.
Learn How to Read the Ingredient List
The packaging on a product may be deceiving but the ingredient list doesn’t lie. The first item listed is always the ingredient that appears the most all the way down to the least. When meat, such as beef, chicken, etc., is listed as the first ingredient that’s usually indicative of a higher quality and more protein-dense meal. Rice is the ideal main grain. In addition, if your dog has a preexisting heart problem, incorporating more foods rich in taurine can help not only with their heart but also with their muscles and vision.
Don’t Neglect the Fruits and Vegetables
Dogs are omnivores but some pet owners can tend towards providing a carnivore diet. Your dog should be eating a diet with 15% fruits and vegetables. We know that each dog is different and what one works for another pup of a similar breed and size may not be the best option for yours. These are good guidelines to help you design a better diet – and lifestyle – for your dog to help them achieve better gut health, healthier weight, and a longer life span.
If you have any questions about your dog’s weight or any other aspect of your dog’s health, consult your veterinarian for a more tailored plan. We at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital have been serving our animal community for years and have the expertise to help your dog. Contact us today!