You already know a good diet is important for your dog’s health. Did you know that dogs that are fit live almost 2 years longer? A 12-year study of Golden Retrievers proved that puppies and dogs that stayed fit their whole life lived almost 2 years longer than their overweight littermates. Not grossly obese littermates, just overweight! The reason is that body fat doesn’t just insulate against cold and provide energy. Fat is very active and not in a good way.
Fat Produces Harmful Hormones
Studies in humans and animals have discovered that body fat makes hormones. The fat in dogs makes over 39 different hormones and each one is harmful. These hormones signal the body’s white blood cells and immune system act as if it fighting off an infection even though there is no infection. This is called inflammation and is like living with a fever 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year! Constant inflammation from fat shortens a dog’s life because it can cause:
>Diabetes and other hormonal diseases
>Asthma and other respiratory problems
>Increased blood pressure
>Bladder stones and other urinary problems
Causes for Becoming Overweight
Dogs become overweight for many reasons:
>Breed (Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Dachshunds)
>Spaying or Neutering
>Medical conditions that limit exercise
>Weather that limits exercise
>Owner’s exercise limitations (medical problems, neighborhood limitations for exercise, job hours)
>Overfeeding, especially treats
Prevention is Better than Dieting
You know dieting is hard and doesn’t really work. Preventing excess fat gain is the best approach. Feeding directions for dogs are only a starting point. Every dog is different and may need more or less food than recommended to stay fit. Here are some helpful things you need to know about commercial dog food feeding instructions labels:
~The “Weight” on the feeding chart means your dog’s ideal weight, not its present weight if different than ideal
~“Cups” means 8-oz. measuring cup, not a beverage cup, coffee cup, big gulp cup or scoop
~Start at low end of feeding range in the chart because feeding instructions are calculated for un-neutered, active, laboratory dogs which need more calories than normal, neutered dogs
~Entire day, the number of cups or cans to feed are for the entire day, not each meal
~The calorie count of dog food is not standard for all brands. The difference can be as large as 200 calories per cup or 100 calories per can. Your dog could gain 14lbs. in 1 year if you don’t change meal amounts when you change dog food brands!
Feed The Waist. This motto will help you feed the perfect amount of food to your dog, even during puppyhood. A dog is at its perfect weight if:
~There is a definite hour glass figure from the chest to the hips when you are looking from above at the tail and looking toward the head-a “Waist”
~A very tight tummy - looking from the side
~The ribs can easily be felt and just barely seen during exercise
Dogs with this body profile are a perfect 4/9 BCS (Body Condition Score) and at their ideal weight. By subtracting meal portions during times of limited exercise (winter in colder climates, summer in hotter climates) or adding meal portions during periods of excessive exercise (spring and fall) you can easily maintain this fit condition. Score a 4, Live Some More! (2 years)
If your dog is overweight, I do not recommend dieting. Drastically limiting calories causes the body to keep fat, not lose it. In every overweight dog there is a thin dog. Feeding the calories and nutrients that meet the needs of the thin dog will cause excess fat to eventually go away. Feed The Thin Dog Inside. Losing fat this way is much slower than dieting but it is a healthier. Once your thin dog is set free, feed to maintain that fit condition.
But how do you know your dog’s ideal thin weight? We can help. By sending us a picture of your dog from directly on top and directly from the side we can estimate its ideal body weight for you. Use the weight as a starting point and adjust meal amounts as needed. No diet, No special food, just Feed The Thin Dog Inside.
Hearthstone Homemade dog food recipes and supplements are specially formulated so that all essential nutrient requirements are met with fewer calories. The feeding instructions are calculated for the normal, sexually neutered dogs, not laboratory dogs. That means our daily portions are more in line with the needs of your dog. A fit, healthy dog gives you and your best friend longer, better quality time together.
Here are more articles on fitness you may enjoy:
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN