We all know that it's not good for our beloved dogs to be overweight. Carrying too much weight places strain on joints, can lead to diabetes, low energy, mobility problems, breathing problems, and a myriad of other health issues.
So, how can you tell if your dog is overweight? It's more about feel than it is about the scale. Muscled dogs weigh more than dogs that carry a lot of fat, so it's important to know how to tell by sight, and especially by feel, more than by the scale.
Place your hands on your dog's sides. Can you easily feel ribs under a layer of flesh? Or do you have to dig around a bit? Can you feel your dog's hip bones, also under a layer of flesh? Does you dog have a distinct waistline when viewed from the top?
Although you should never see your dog's ribs at rest, you should easily feel them. Sometimes you will see ribs when short-coated athletic dogs are playing or running, and breathing heavily. This is OK. But, if you can't feel ribs, it's important to take action.
It's rather easy to get your dog into proper weight, but it might seem harder on you than it is on them.
As a starting point, be sure you are feeding the correct amount of Napa Fresh, which is about 2% of your dog's IDEAL body weight. Some dogs need more, some need less. If the amount you are currently feeding is producing too much weight, simply cut back on Napa Fresh (conversely, if your dog is too thin, add more).
Eliminate all kibble, canned food, and any other processed food, including dehydrated food. These are the biggest causes of overweight in dogs because they all contain loads of carbohydrates that dogs don't need. This is the single most important action to take.
Eliminate treats, or at the very least, change treats to small amounts of fresh, cut-up non-cruciferous vegetables like cucumbers, red/yellow bell peppers, celery, carrots (high in carbs, so limit these), zucchini, yellow squash, or blueberries and cut up apples. Limit the amount you give - too much can cause gastric distress.
If you think your dog needs more food to fill his belly at meal time but he's still overweight, it's OK to add up to one can of low sodium green beans, or a handful of cooked green beans to his Napa Fresh.
After a few weeks of a modified feeding routine, you should see a difference in your dog's appearance, and you should feel a difference. Your dog should also feel a lot better and have more energy, depending on how long he's been carrying around the extra weight.
It's worth the change in routine to insure your dog is at his healthiest weight.
At Highmeadow Farm, we monitor all the dogs each and every morning - it's just part of our morning routine. For example, Rosie needs less food to maintain her girlish figure than sister Emme. Rosie tends to put on weight easily and quickly, losing her waistline and her hip bones, while Emme consistently requires more food every day, and careful monitoring, because she can lose weight quickly and become too "ribby". They get the same amount of exercise too, and we have found that maintaining weight in our dogs has more to do with what and how much we feed than it does with exercise.
The same holds true with our big boys - Dru requires more food than his brother Cisco, who can get "chunky" sometimes. Both of these boys run hard in the field every day, chasing their sisters.
If your dog is overweight, modify the amount and type of food and treats you give, be patient, and don't do anything extreme when it comes to exercise, because forcing an overweight dog to exercise more can lead to injuries, and probably will have a limited effect, if any, on weight loss.
Continue monitoring your dog every day while you snuggle and love them, like we do!
Not sure about your dog's weight? I'll be happy to check for you. Just get in touch and let me know. Plan to bring your dog to the barn on Fridays between 1 and 4pm and I'll share my opinion. No scale required!