Overeating and obesity are sensitive topics around the dinner table in many American homes, and the same is true of the dog plate. From constant fast food that packs on the pounds to indulgences that can be life-threatening, our junkies often fail to measure up when it comes to eating sensibly. Fortunately, you have a lot of control over what goes into his mouth and he can take positive steps to get his canine friend to eat the right amount of food for his age and energy level.
Effects of dogs overeating
Eating too many calories regularly puts too much weight on your pup, leading to inefficient heart, kidney, and pulmonary systems. This puts him up for serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The moist environment between the folds of fat is a breeding ground for yeast and other skin issues. His joints eventually start to wear out with the added strain of carrying so much weight, resulting in painful arthritis. His immune system becomes less able to fight infection. An obese dog will have trouble walking even short walks in the neighborhood with his favorite people.
You might be tempted to fill Fido’s plate with extra food on special family occasions so he can join in the celebration. However, eating a meal that is too large can quickly cause bloat, a life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog’s abdomen fills with fluid, air, or food and puts pressure on surrounding organs. It’s time to take him to the vet if you notice your dog is panting, drooling, restless, or has a hard, distended belly after eating a big meal or gobbling up a plate of goodies left on a countertop.
Some dogs may be able to control their appetites and even resist a piece of apple pie that fell to the floor, but most will just consume anything they can nip at—as long as it’s not healthier. For these eating machines, free feeding—which provides an endless supply of food throughout the day—provides the opportunity to eat more than they should. Vets usually recommend that you divide your dog’s recommended daily food portion in half and feed two smaller meals a day, spaced approximately 12 hours apart.
Add up treats
A nourishing life It will get pretty shabby for your four-legged friend without a little treat now and then. And if he’s into obedience training or another canine activity, you’ll need a display of tasty treats to motivate him. Just track calories and reduce your regular food portion to make up the difference. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter dog snacks are high in fat and empty calories. If you start your pup on crunchy green beans, carrots, strawberries or sweet potatoes, he may never even notice he’s eating bunny food. Otherwise, slivers of turkey, chicken or tofu hot dogs make good low-calorie treats for your pup.
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Canine Obesity American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Platt Pets WebMD: Healthy Dog Treats: Natural, Organic, and Other Hassles to Help Keep Dogs Maintaining Pets WebMD: Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ