Numerous studies have concluded that obesity can adversely affect the longevity of your dog. Just like humans, the biggest causes of obesity in dogs are the quantity and quality of food that they eat and how that relates to the amount of exercise that they undertake. By consulting the body condition chart below, you will get a fair idea ofwhere your dog’s shape sits and whether you need to take steps to help change it. Breed and metabolism have an effect, a sporty, active dog will need a little more food than a less active one.
According to the PFMA, vets consider that 49% of dogs in the UK are overweight and with obesity comes health problems.
Healthy Paws food contains such excellent quality nutrients, that the volume of food that needs to be fed can be significantly reduced. On the back of our complete dog food bags, you’ll see a chart giving guidance as to what quantity of food to feed each day. The figure on the left is the one to err towards and the one on the right is the absolute maximum that should be fed. Finding the perfect volume of food for your particular dog involves studying their poo. If you feed your dog twice a day, then he or she should only need to poo twice a day. Start by feeding the amount on the left hand side of the chart based on what your dog weighs. Your dog should excrete small dark coloured firm poos no more than the number of times that you feed him. If you are feeding too much, then poos will be sloppy, or might start off dark and firm, but be sloppy at the end.
We often find that owners will ask for advice because their dog has no problems with its morning poo, but the afternoon or evening poo starts OK then goes sloppy at the end. The answer is to feed 60% of the daily amount of food in the evening and 40% in the morning.
Read our blog post Dispel the myths about dog nutrition which gives you more information about how to judge the quality of your dog’s food. It also unveils the mysteries of the part that specific ingredients play in your dog’s well being. The key message is that the better the quality of ingredients, the less the volume that needs to be fed. Hence the cost per day of feeding Healthy Paws can be considerably less than other brands and eating fewer ‘empty calories’ which cause obesity means a happier, healthier dog.
Dogs aren’t like humans, their stomach is like a concertina - all the food goes through the colon in a soft, sloppy state, containing lots of moisture and the nutrients the dog needs are absorbed into the body. It’s not until what’s left of the food reaches the rectum that the moisture is removed and it passes as solid, small poos. Indeed a wild dog, who is hunting for food might pass very few stools as he is using up all the nutrients in the food he’s catching. As the colon is much bigger than the rectum, if you’re over feeding then you’ll know about it because the first couple of poos excreted will be solid, dry and are true waste as all the nutrients have been absorbed, but then the dog will continue to produce poo where the first part is hard and the end of it is sloppy making it difficult to poop scoop.
Because of the better nutrition contained in Healthy Paws, you only need to feed 50% of the amount of some other premium foods and up to 60% of the amount of a standard supermarket food. This is why Healthy Paws can work out cheaper than most other foods, including supermarket brands. The recommended amount to feed your dog is given on the bag of Healthy Paws food, but for the optimum amount for your own dog, there’s no better way than to study their stools! A medium sized dog fed on Healthy Paws complete adult dog food costs approximately 60p per day to feed.
Some owners report that their dogs have begun to be quite picky about their food. Unfortunately, this is usually a result of something we humans have given them. A dog shouldn’t be picky if he or she’s being fed correctly. If you give a dog wheat, for example in a piece of your toast in the morning, then it will sit in its stomach all day and the dog will not be hungry for its food later. If your dog starts chewing its paws, that’s an easy sign that it’s been eating something containing wheat or wheat gluten which does not agree with its metabolism. Take a look at our YouTube channel for a video containing useful information about dog digestion.
We’re often asked whether dogs go off food – dogs don’t taste like humans, they have 600-1700 taste buds depending on their age, whereas we have 6000-9000. A dog’s sense of smell is just as important as their taste buds so if you think your dog is not showing as much interest in his food as previously one trick is to rub some garlic on the bottom of the bowl before you feed him. The dog will smell something different and interesting and will be encouraged to taste it, but you can still be confident that you’re feeding the right nutrients. If your dog starts to be picky, cut down the amount of food you’re feeding and put it in the oven for a few minutes to get warm – what that does is release an odour from the fat contained within it and be very appealing to your dog.
Because doggy digestion is not the same as human digestion, there are a few important things to watch out for – you might think it’s good to give your dog some chicken breast or steak now and again, but meat is full of phosphorus which absorbs calcium, too much phosphorus and the calcium is robbed from bones and teeth which can create problems with metabolic bone disease, so be very careful. Healthy Paws recipes are nutritionally balanced to give the right phosphorus/calcium ratio. Our recipes also use small quantities garlic and herbs to help deter fleas and worms and natural preservatives like rosemary and vitamin E. The complete dry dog food by Healthy Paws is also produced with a crunchy kibble that’s ideal for healthy teeth.
There’s a choice of four complete dry adult food recipes from Healthy Paws, take a look at the details before selecting the one you feel is best for your dog. Healthy Paws does also provide wet food, but remember that if a dog has 100 grams of dry food, he would need 500 grams of wet food to give the same nutritional benefit because of the moisture content of wet food (generally 80%). Wet food is a good option if a dog is convalescing, but normally a complete dry food is a good, nutritionally balanced choice.
The use of treats can be very handy for dog training and rewards but remember that the quality of treats that you feed can impact on their digestion too. Don’t use treats containing wheat when you’ve been so careful to avoid it in their food. If your dog needs to lose weight, you need to reduce the amount of food given by the amount of treats given during a day.
Just like humans, dogs can start to feel hungrier in winter and they do need to put on some extra fat to combat the cold. They also grow a thicker coat, which is fine if they live outside, but if we keep them in centrally heated houses, they will start to moult.
We know that humans feel more like comfort food in the winter – stews rather than salads tend to be on the menu and it’s fine to increase your dog’s food slightly, but you must study their stools to guide you as to how much is enough and also watch their body shape. It’s easy to overdo it and then find that they are getting overweight.
There’s no getting away from it, the way to decide precisely what quantity of food is right for your dog is by studying its poo. The rule is that their poo should be small, dark and firm and not too much of it. Sloppy poo means you’re feeding too much. We recommend that you increase the evening meal slightly in the first instance and you may find that is plenty. Likewise, when the evenings start to get lighter, you can reduce your dog’s food intake.
If a dog still seems to be hungry, then try giving it some sweet potato – around 50 grams in weight, softened in the microwave – this provides a bit of bulk to stave off hunger pangs. Never overdo the amount you feed your dog, apart from the risk of obesity, it might also get copraphagia which is not pleasant.
This body shape chart should help you to know when enough is enough. A long term study of Labradors, half of whom were fed ad hoc on demand and half of whom were fed on a restricted diet gave interesting data about how much to feed a dog to keep it healthy. After 11 years, those fed on a restricted diet were alive and healthy, those fed on demand were all dead and the owners had incurred expensive vets bills due to obesity related ailments.
When is a dog overweight?
The body shape chart above (provided by the PFMA at www.pfma.org.uk) is a useful tool to help you decide if your dog is overweight. Look down at its shape. Your dog needs a waist – its shape needs to go in and out – if it has a big tummy, then it needs to diet.
The way Healthy Paws food is formulated means that it contains high quality ingredients, designed to ensure that your dog receives the best nutrition. It is important however, to ensure that you take note of the quantity you feed your dog – just like humans, over feeding, even on excellent quality food, will mean that the dog will put on weight.
A less active dog or an older dog, needs a lighter food that’s gentle on the stomach. The Healthy Paws senior/light food contains less fat (as fat is higher in calorific value), but a good source of meat calories and low GI rice and oats to keep hunger at bay. This light food also contains glucosamine, chrondroitin and MSM to maintain and support healthy joints.
Choose quality over quantity
The problems caused to dogs by being overweight mirror those of humans; mobility problems, lethargy, constipation and colitis. That’s why we at Healthy Paws talk so much about the cost per day of feeding your dog – which is based on giving a smaller, better quality quantity of food, rather than the fixed cost of a bag. Take a look at our blog about doggy digestion to understand more about why this is.