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Just like with us, if a dog eats too much and does not get enough exercise they are going to gain weight. It is very important to take care of your dog if he develops a weight problem. Just as with us, being overweight can cause a whole mess of problems with a dog. The thing is they happen faster with a dog than they do in us. The excess weight a dog has can cause extra pressure on their joints and muscles and they might develop arthritis. The extra weight can also cause heart problems with dogs and dogs can even get diabetes. Before you rush out to buy the newest diet dog food, stop and look at your dogs feeding habits.
Before you start, double check and see if you dog is overweight. You can check this without going to your vet. The best way to check is to feel your dog’s ribs with both hands. For an ideal weight dog, it is easy to feel the ribs. If you look at your dog from the side, the belly is tucked up and if you look at your dog from the top, you will see your dog with a little waist. If you dog is overweight, you are not doing to be able to feel his ribs. When you look at your dog from the side, you will not see a tucked belly and when looked at from the top, there is no waist. Growing up my family dog was a beagle and was overweight and her belly hung down to the ground almost, she was that fat. You could tell just by looking at her, we didn’t need to do the rib test at all.
While being overweight can be the symptom of other illness, chances are your dog is just being overfed. It is still a good idea to take him to the vet just to make sure. It turns out our beagle had a thyroid problem and needed medication. That was part of the problem, the other part was that she ate too darn much.
Like we said, you do not need to rush out and buy the newest diet food for your dog. There are some simple steps you can do first. For starters look at his feeding schedule. If you are still feeding him twice a day, you should cut that down to once a day especially if he is older than a year. The schedule of feedings for you dog should go as follows: A puppy gets fed three times a day from 8 weeks until about 6 months. From 6 months until a year, they should be fed twice a day. Once they hit a year, they only need to eat once a day.
Also, keep an eye at how much you are feeding him. Keep in mind the guidelines that are on the bag of the dog food. If it states to feed your dog a cup and a half a day for example, do not feed them 3 cups. Some people believe that if they are only being fed once a day then they should double up on the serving size to compensate. This is not true. When your dog is eating three times and even twice a day, they more than likely still on puppy food. Once they are being fed once a day, they are on adult food which theoretically will fill them up more than the puppy food did.
Next, make sure you exercise your dog. This is easier with some breeds than it is with others! Take your dog for walks, if you have a fenced in yard, make sure you are out there with him tossing a ball around or at least playing with him. Anything to get them moving. This not only helps with exercise for maintaining weight but it also helps some dogs relieve a lot of their pent up energy.