Dog Feeding

Feeding your dog properly is critical to his/her overall health and wellbeing. Without realizing it, we can kill our dogs with kindness and by including extra titbits at the table or little treats now and then during the day.  These extras, on top of his ordinary meal, will mean the dog will soon start to put on weight. The rule of thumb is that a slightly underfed dog is better than an overfed dog.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight

The shape of the body should be such that you can see a definite shape of the ribs and you should be able to feel the last rib.  Towards the back end you should see the body narrow slightly towards the hips.  If you can’t feel or see this shape then your dog is overweight.  The best way to do this is to reduce what you normally feed your dog.  Make an effort to give him/her more free running exercise or get involved in a dog club and their sports or activities.

Start your dog on a diet of weight management biscuits which are not so high in protein and get exercising to help him/her lose the excess weight.  Excess weight can be the instigator of a number of other health issues, as in humans.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Underweight

An underweight dog will look very scrawny and malnourished.  If you can see the ribs protruding quite visibly as well as the dog looking sickly and a dull looking coat, chances are that he/she is going to need some building up.  You might be best to take the dog to the vet for advice in this situation.

The ideal weight of a dog should be a visible shape of the rib cage and you should be able to feel the ribs.  Be aware that a thick and long coated dog will be a little deceiving.  You may think the dog looks overweight but really underneath all the thickness the body is actually quite trim.  With these types of dogs always feel underneath the coat for the rib cage and run your hands down the sides holding the coat in to try and get an idea of the shaping inwards at the rear.  If you are not sure then get it checked out by your vet.  An underlying disease or illness can sometimes be the cause of dogs becoming underweight.

Natural health remedies can be helpful in the management of weight problems in dogs by balancing out the metabolism in both overweight and underweight dogs.

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When considering the feeding routine for your dog you will need to consider the type of food you are going to give your dog.  Premium dog food can sometimes be over-rated and some of these have added chemicals, preservatives and colourings.  If you are concerned about additives in dog food check the packet.  You may come across the term ‘BARF’ when talking about ways of feeding your dog.  BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and basically refers to raw meat and bones which is more like what a wild dog would eat. For more information visit www.barfworld.com.

Some people prefer feeding their dogs with a homemade cooked meal of meat.  You might want to look at the free dog food recipes page for some different ideas.  Personally, I have found that my now 13½ Golden Retriever is fit and healthy on one meal a day of leftover steamed vegetables with a little dog roll meat and a few biscuits with no colourings or additives and supplements of glucosomine plus a couple of others .  Being a Golden Retriever he eats just about anything and sometimes he enjoys any leftovers of the previous night’s meal.  Some breeds are a little more fussy and I guess it is a matter of speaking to your breeder or vet about what is the best feeding programme for your dog.  There are also special dry foods for specific health conditions and different ages of your dog.  Visit zooplus.co.uk – My Petshop for a good range of premium canned dog food and dog biscuits for specific needs.

Stick to a similar regime for your dog’s feeding programme.  When introducing new brands of food or biscuits, for example, introduce it gradually into your dog’s feeding regime.  Some dogs will react with diarrhea or bringing their meal up when suddenly change from one brand to another if they have a sensitive stomach.

If feeding habits include you giving treats (see the dog treat recipes page) to your dog during the day then cut down on the amount of food in the main meal.  So if you have a young dog that you are training and use treats as rewards then reduce the amount you feed him/her at meal time.  Overfeeding your dog which causes your dog to become overweight can, like humans, cause a multitude of health problems such as pressure on the heart, press on the joints, hips, diabetes, etc. and can lessen in the long term the life of your dog.  These health conditions will end up being a bigger expense for you in veterinary bills to rectify the dog’s health condition.

I haven’t mentioned in this dog feeding section about the importance of exercise and activities for your dog’s mental and physical health.  Refer to the section on dog activities which is, along with correct dog feeding routines, critical to your dog’s overall health and weight situation.