Almost 60% of pets are overweight or obese. A major cause of this trend is “proportion distortion” on the part of dog owners. Here are 3 helpful hints to prevent feeding your dog too much.
1. Use an 8-ounce Measuring Cup
American English uses the word “cup” in many ways. We don’t automatically think of the word “cup” to mean an 8-ounce measuring cup. We think of a coffee cup, a beverage cup or a “Big Gulp” cup. The feeding instructions on the labels of dog food bags are always for the 8-ounce measuring cup. This is generally news to my veterinary clients who use every other cup or scooping device other than a measuring cup.
The problem, of course, is that using alternative “cups” leads to overfeeding and weight gain. It is the biggest offender of proportion distortion.
The green cup shown is 8oz. The numbers on the other containers indicate how many cups they hold.
2. Use Smaller Food Bowls
For my entire 30+-year, veterinary career, my clients have always told me that their dog’s food bowl is larger than their dog’s water bowl. Despite the fact that dogs need more water than food, the food bowl is always bigger. The problem is that studies show that owners tend to “top off’ food because the required amount does not look adequate in the large bowl. Their dogs receive too much food.
This solution is to use a smaller food bowl. The bowl should be no larger than 1.5 times the size or the dog’s snout. That way the required amount of food fills the bowl adequately and decreases the psychological urge to “top off.”
3. Feed Your Dog’s Ideal Weight
Feeding instructions on dog food labels are for your dog’s ideal weight, not its present weight. This is not easy to know with all of the mixed breeds of very different body types (labradoodles, puggles, etc.). Your veterinarian can help you determine that ideal weight of your dog.
Once you have determined your dog’s ideal weight always feed the low end of the label instructions. This is necessary because these instructions are overly generous and based on the most calorie demanding life stages like unneutered, active, pregnant or lactating.
These simple ideas can keep you from “proportion distortion” and keep your dog fit. Better yet are homemade dog food diets that provide more accurate feeding instructions.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN