Over Feeding A Dog
Even though we love our dogs, over feeding a dog is never good for its health. A dog can suffer extreme consequences when it feeds on too much food. Instead, a dog should eat a recommended portion of food every day to maintain an optimal weight.
Many owners may not even realized that their dog is overweight or unhealthy, and instead they keep feeding their dogs with the same meal habits. Avoiding this can lead to a healthier and happier dog; but staying on this path will push a dog's lifespan down dramatically while increasing the risk of a variety of health problems.
Many owners believe that it is okay to supply a dog with a food bowl which is refilled endlessly rather than sitting empty most of the time. Just like people, dogs can and will eat out of boredom. This means that an endless supply of food in his or her bowl could become a target when there is nothing else to do.
Why Are Owners Over Feeding Their Dogs?
For the most part, I do not believe that owners are actually aiming to over feed their dogs and make them large and unhealthy. I believe that over feeding a dog is a result of owners thinking that dogs will only eat when truly hungry, and in "normal" portions. This has led to a vast amount of overweight dogs (and cats!) and has even distorted the views of what a "healthy" animal looks like. Many owners would point at a heavy or obese dog versus a dog with a healthier weight range if they were asked to identify which one looks to be in the healthiest condition. With a little bit of education and clarification, owners can bring their dogs to a healthier weight and significantly increase the animals' lifespans.
Dogs, like humans, should also have a very limited number of treats. Many dog treats will cause dogs to gain a lot of weight. There are healthy treat choices, but they are not as widely available and diversified as standard treats. Owners love to spoil their pets with lots of treats, thinking of it as an act of love. Many don't realize that they can have a very negative effect on the pet's health, so they continue to supply the animal with several treats per day.
How Can Dog Owners Prevent Themselves from Over Feeding A Dog?
In order to avoid over feeding the dog, an owner will need to properly research his or her dog's breed, and find out exactly how much food the animal requires. In addition to this, age, sex, health, lifestyle, and breeding will all need to be factored into a dog's feeding regimen.
- For example, let's say that we have three different dogs. All three dogs are the same sex, breed, and size:
- Dog A: This dog is only 10 months old, and plays heavily. It is also trained to hunt; and goes on regular hunting trips several times per week. She is used to locate and chase particular species, which is rather physically demanding.
- Dog B: This dog is older, around 13 years old. She has arthritis, and is not very active.
- Dog C: This dog is about 4 years old, and has just whelped a litter of 8 puppies. She is moderately active when she is taking breaks from her puppies.
I'm sure you are aware that Dog C would require the most food, with Dog A requiring a moderate amount and Dog B requiring much less than the others. This demonstrates that a dog's nutritional needs will fluctuate drastically throughout its life, making it harder for owners to accurately guess how much food they require at different life stages. Owners should be prepared to research this information when necessary.
How Can An Owner Tell If His or Her Dog Has A Healthy Weight?
The body of a dog with a healthy weight has a few different conditions. First of all, the skeletal system should not be visible. This includes hip bones, ribs, the spine, or the shoulders. The dog's abdomen should not appear saggy either. If you are having trouble understanding this, a saggy abdomen would look similar to a female dog who is lactating, or feeding puppies. A sagging abdomen is a sign of being very overweight, or a sign that the dog has recently lost weight but the skin has yet to tighten. Over feeding a dog will quickly result in a sagging abdomen. The dog should also have a visible waist, much like a human. The dog should not have a straight waist, nor should the waist bow outwards. Please refer to the image to the right for more detail regarding the different weight ranges for animals. I absolutely love this chart as it makes the different levels very clear and easily understood for all dog owners!
What Could Happen If an Owner Continues to Over Feed Their Dog?
If an owner ignores the threats of an over fed dog, the animal could become victim to a wide array of health conditions and problems. As dogs age, arthritis is likely to overcome the animal just as it affects people. It is a natural occurrence with old age. However, a dog who has been unhealthy and large for most of its life can begin suffering from arthritis in its early years. This causes the dog lots of pain, and it will hinder the animal's physical activity, leading to more weight gain, more stress on the joints, and compounded health issues.
Diabetes will occur as well, as insulin resistance will become higher. The pancreas produces insulin which digests sugars within food. When a dog eats much more than it should, the pancreas is put under stress. If the pancreas becomes too stressed, it can fail; resulting in 0 insulin production. This quickly becomes fatal.
Kidney, heart, and respiratory disease may occur as well, as other organs begin to suffer from the additional weight and lowered physical activity. This all becomes much more common as the dog ages as well.
What Consequences Might Occur for the Owner of an Over Fed Dog?
First of all, the owner could wind up paying large amounts of money toward his or her vet if the overweight dog continues to have health issues. Medical bills can very quickly become out of control and land an owner in debt.
If this is not an issue as far as the owner is concerned, then the risk of death should be reason enough to keep the animal in a healthier condition. Dogs who become overweight or obese have a much lower lifespan than their healthier peers. For the owners who truly consider their pets as family, this is just not acceptable. By ensuring that the dog has a reasonable portion of food at the right times, and that the dog gets the necessary exercise, becoming overweight should not be much of an issue.
Joanne on October 14, 2017:
Our Cava Tzu is overweight at 30 lbs. and should be 25 according to the vet but getting my spouse to realize that giving her too much food is not an act of love but will hurt her, especially with the King Charles Spaniel part of her prone to heart valve issues. He is a bit OCD and the feeding routine is just too much. He spoons a couple of spoons of weight control wet food, cleans off the spoon, places a specific number of dry kibble into that, adds a couple of spoons of canned pumpkin, washes the spoon, and then breaks it all up with the spoon to mix. After she finishes her meal he then gives her a treat fro being a good dog and eating her meals!! She is on Phenobarbital for a seizure disorder which increases her appetite which does not help either.To correct him is a fight..what to do? He also will not allow me to take over feeding to get her down to a healthy weight :(
angryelf (author) from Tennessee on January 01, 2014:
If I were you Mary, I would take the food from her one day, and show her what triple looks like in a large measuring cup. Then, show her what the RECOMMENDED amount of food for a Yorkie looks like in a second measuring cup (you can find great sources like the AKC for this information). Once you demonstrate how much she is feeding her, show her a video of a dog suffering and unable to move around from obesity; as well as one who's undergoing hip/knee surgery, or suffering from arthritis. Let her know that this IS where her dog will wind up; especially with the tiny, fragile bone structure of a yorkie.
mary on January 01, 2014:
my mother in law has a yorkshire terrior a few years old - she feeds her 3 times a day with 2 slices of dog food plus table scrapes ow can I get her to see that this is too much
angryelf (author) from Tennessee on August 14, 2013:
Thank you Sugahware! Most owners mean nothing but spoiling, no harm... As you knew, it usually ends badly :/ I'm sorry about your Retriever, and am really happy that you keep your current pups at a good weight! I'm glad you found this article so important! Thanks!
Robyn D Bera from California on August 14, 2013:
Thanks for this hub, it hit really close to home. My Golden Retriever (who passed away last year) was incredibly overweight. I didn't mean to let it happen. His health suffered greatly and as he got older, his hips and joints. I really focus on keeping my current dogs at a healthy weight. Thanks for writing this post and bringing attention to this issue. Voted up!