Responsible dog owners should make sure their pets get the right amount of exercise and consume the right kind of food. An unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise can cause a dog’s weight to fluctuate, which could be a significant concern for the owner.
However, with a species as diverse as this, it’s challenging to figure out if your dog’s the right weight, as every breed has its own ideal weight. But you don’t have to worry too much. Because in this article, we’ll discuss how you can calculate your dog’s weight to help you figure out how healthy your dog is. Along with this, we’ll also discuss healthy dog diets to keep your dog in tip-top shape.
But before we can discuss those things, it’s essential to know why a dog’s weight should be a concern for any owner.
Why Is It Important To Know Your Dog’s Weight?
As dog owners, we can’t resist those adorable pleading eyes and head tilt from our dogs when we’re having a meal. We can’t help but give them some food from our plate. It’s only natural for pet owners to want to spoil their pets. But this is not a good habit. It can have adverse effects on our dogs in the long run.
Studies have shown that nearly 53% of dogs in the U.S are either overweight or obese. The culprit is clear: an unhealthy diet combined with a lack of exercise. These two things can have long-term health consequences for any pet.
Therefore, it is vital to your dog’s weight to prevent them from getting overweight or even underweight. As their owners and caretakers, it is our ethical duty to look after their well-being.
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How To Determine The Ideal Weight Of Your Dog?
One of the best and simplest ways to calculate your dog’s ideal weight is the Body Condition Score. This is a tool used to estimate the amount of fat on a canine’s body. BCS is evaluated through a 9-point scale. Dogs that score 4 or 5 out of 9 are at healthy body weight.
A Score of 1 to 3 is considered too thin, while a score of 6 or 7 means the dog is overweight. Dogs that are obese typically receive scores of 8 or 9.
The BCS method involves examining the abdomen, ribs, and waistline by touch and sight.
Ideally, the ribs should not be covered by too much fat. And when the dog’s body is viewed from above, there should be an inward curve behind the ribs.
A side view of the body should show an ‘’abdominal tuck,’’ meaning that the belly should be slightly curved upward behind the ribs.
An overweight dog will have excess fat on the ribs and lack a defined abdominal tuck and waistline. In contrast, underweight dogs will have an accentuated abdominal tuck and waist. They will have prominent ribs, pelvis, and vertebrae, which means that their bodies do not have enough fat.
How To Calculate Your Dog’s Ideal Weight?
After using the above method, you should know your dog’s BCS. Using these results, you can find and calculate your dog’s ideal weight by following the steps given below:
Step 1: Subtract 5 from your dog’s starting BCS.
Example: 8-5 = 3
Step 2: Multiply the result by 10.
Example: 3 x 10 = 30
Step 3: Now Add 100.
Example: 30 + 100 = 130
Step 4: Now, Divide the Result by 100 and round it up to 3 digits.
Example: 100/130 = .769
Step 5: Multiply the result by the current weight of your dog.
Example: .769 x 50 pounds = 38.45 pounds
Dog’s Target Weight is 38.45 pounds.
As you can see from the formula above, calculating your dog’s ideal weight using the BCS system is very simple. If your dog’s weight is close to that range after calculating with the above formula, you have nothing to worry about.
However, what if your dog is overweight? Or what if he’s underweight? Read on to know the available options for you to get your canine back into tip-top shape.
How To Help Your Dog Lose Weight
Before you can help your dog begin its weight loss journey, you should consider a few things.
1. Food & Exercise
Generally, when we speak of weight loss, it comes down to two things: diet and exercise. It is the same for humans as well as dogs. It goes without saying that dog owners should be very conscious of what they feed their canine friends. Along with proper and daily exercise. The volume of which significantly depends on the breed of the dog.
“Weight loss for humans and dogs is 60-70% diet and 30-40% exercise”, says Ernie Ward, DVM, and founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
From the above statement, it is clear that weight loss for a dog almost wholly depends on their diet. A well-balanced and quality diet can make weight loss very effective as well as tolerable.
With that being said, it would be a mistake to neglect daily exercise completely. It is crucial to make an exercise regime that will suit your dog, along with planning a balanced diet. It’s also paramount that you create a weight loss regime that can fit into your lifestyle easily so that you won’t have to sacrifice a workout or meal and affect your dog’s weight loss journey.
2. Split Up His Meals
According to Dr. Carol, a veterinarian from the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Ohio, splitting up your dog’s daily ration of food into small portions of three to six can aid in digestion. Not only that, but it will also help in burning calories as digestion requires a certain amount of energy.
These small meals will also help keep your dog’s insulin levels stable and ensure that his belly is full throughout the day. It will also help in reducing appetite spikes. Once your dog’s metabolism starts working normally, any excess fat will start to come off.
3. Treats Count
We believe we speak for most pet owners when we say that nobody wants to deny their pets treats. However, a treat here and there could significantly affect weight loss as treats still count as calories. Too many treats will gradually add to the daily caloric intake of your dog, causing him to gain weight.
Although, it’s fun to see the excitement in your dog’s eyes when he’s given a treat for being a good boy. But you will still need to keep a close eye on how many treats you are feeding them. If you provide your dog with healthy foods with high protein and low carbohydrates and then feed them high-calorie, high-carb processed treats, then it’s safe to say you will not see considerable weight loss anytime soon.
According to many doctors, you should not feed your dog more than 10% of their daily food intake in treats. Any more than the recommended amount will undo the benefits of the balanced diet your dog is consuming.
4. Increase Exercise
Food may be Key, but no weight loss plan is complete without a proper exercise regime. The simplest form of exercise for your dog is walking. Not only will regular walks exercise the body, but they will also offer mental stimulation for your dog. However, the amount of walking or frequency of the walks depends upon the breed of your dog. Although it is said that some dogs need less exercise than others, it is universally agreed that all dogs require regular walks.
The recommended minimum of daily exercise for most dogs is 20 minutes, twice a day. Some dogs will need more, depending on their breed. If your dog is already partaking in regular walks, you can gradually increase the frequency or length of the walk by 10-20%. Don’t try to increase the exercise frequency too much as it may strain your dog’s body. This will result in fatigue, due to which your dog will not be very active the next day.
You can ask a vet for the best physical activities your dog can partake in. They will take into account your dog’s breed, current physical condition, age, and sex and give you the best exercise regime according to your dog’s needs.
How To Help Your Dog Gain Weight
The points mentioned above were intended for overweight dogs, but what about if they’re underweight? Well, keep reading if you want to learn how to help your canine companion healthily gain some weight.
1. Feeding Schedule
Dogs process and metabolize food a bit differently, but the concept is quite similar to humans. Just like with humans, eating a few hours before bed can cause weight gain. Doctors generally encourage not eating right before bed as this may lead to weight gain.
The reason for that is simple. When we eat after walking up, we have an active day ahead, so we burn the calories. However, when we eat before sleep, the calories do not burn and instead get stored as fat. But you can use this logic to your benefit if you want to make your dog pack on a couple of extra pounds.
If your dog is accustomed to eating twice a day, try making their morning portion of food smaller and feed them more at night. This helps make sure your canine companion doesn’t burn off those calories during the day.
Bear in mind that you should not let your dog exercise right after eating, as this can cause bloating. It is recommended to make your dog wait at least 30 minutes after the meal before engaging in physical activities.
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2. High Fat Treats
Another excellent way for your dog to gain some needed weight is by feeding them some extra treats. Sometimes a few extra high-fat, high-calorie treats throughout the day can aid in the weight gaining process.
One of the best treats recommended by vets for weight gain is peanut butter. All-natural peanut butter is generally believed to be healthier than most dog treats. You should try combining peanut butter with a piece of vegetable like carrots. Carrots are low-acid, low-sugar food that can aid in reducing the risk of an upset stomach.
One thing to keep in mind, you should not combine peanut butter with fruit, as this can cause stomach issues for your canine.
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3. Feeding Pumpkin & Sweet Potato
When feeding your dog to gain weight, sweet potato and pumpkin can be great options. If you try to avoid adding more meat protein to your canines’ diet, you should substitute it with these two root vegetables. Not only will this boost their fiber and fat consumption and add some pounds it will also help you prevent your dog from getting an upset stomach.
You can purchase a canned or dehydrated pumpkin and sweet potatoes from a local pet store or grocery store.
4. More Exercise
This one may seem counterproductive to many people as exercise is usually associated with weight loss. However, to ensure that your dog gains healthy muscle mass instead of fat, exercise is crucial. Moreover, making sure your dog gets regular exercise also helps in maintaining its weight. Coupled with a diet high in protein and fats, your dog should be at its ideal weight in no time!
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As dog owners, it is our moral and ethical duty to keep our canine companions healthy. To ensure our dogs are the right weight and size, we can conduct monthly weigh-ins. This will keep you on top of any health risks your dog may be exposed to. Paired with periodic medical checkups with the vet, you can rest assured that your dog receives the best care.
We should make a conscious effort to make sure that our furry friends will thrive by our side for many years to come.