Dog Food Quantity Why you Must Count Calories for Your Dog

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Dog Food Quantity Why you Must Count Calories for Your Dog

by Brock Lorber

Over feeding and under feeding your dog poses a severe health risk for them and your wallet. Big or little, a five-pound swing in the weight of your dog represents a big change in their body mass and must be treated as a serious condition.

Your dog cannot control its appetite. He or she will eat until they are full; certain breeds (greyhounds, for example) don?t even have a mechanism to tell them when they are ?full.? If you provide too much food for their body type, activity level, and age, they will store the extra calories in body fat. Too little food will cause their body to harvest the extra calories it needs from body fat if they are active and lean muscle if they are not.

If you cause your dog to become overweight ? and, make no mistake, it is your fault, not theirs ? the strain on their heart, immune system, and joints will result in additional veterinary bills and eventual loss of companionship from their early demise. To combat the curse of the obese canine, you must track their body weight, exercise, and food intake compulsively.

Start by developing a baseline: record your dog?s weight and your estimate of their overall ?fitness? at least once a week, the weight and type of food they eat every day, and an honest daily assessment of exercise. Unless your vet has previously diagnosed an unhealthy condition in your dog, your estimate of your dog?s overall health is just as good as a professional opinion. If you have questions about what your dog should look like, many kennel clubs maintain online galleries of specific breeds that can aid your eye.

Regardless of your dog?s condition, make a firm commitment to dramatically increasing the exercise they get. Exercise is good for their heart and lungs and lets them develop strong, lean muscles. Dogs who receive plenty of exercise burn off a lot of nervous energy, making them better-behaved, and the extra exercise can help you shed a few extra pounds, too!

If you feel your dog is underweight, slightly increase the quantity of food they receive and immediately give them a dramatic increase in opportunities for exercise. The exercise will stimulate their appetite, add body mass as lean muscle, strengthen their joints, and teach their body to use more of the calories in the food they eat.

Overweight dogs can easily be stressed by too much change in their daily routine. Gradually decreasing their caloric intake and increasing their exercise will prevent injuries to joints and fragile bone structures. Longer periods of exercise at a moderate level are preferable to short periods of strenuous exercise in an overweight dog, so take them on a long daily walk instead of jogging them. As their heart and lungs gain increased capacity, the fat will melt off their bodies and new, lean muscle will appear to protect their joints.

Every dog needs plenty of cool, clean water throughout the day, but especially when going to higher activity levels and while exercising. Don?t be surprised if they make many trips to the water bowl for long slurps of water; much of the water they drink evaporates off their tongue while panting so the extra water helps them regulate body temperature.

Lastly, reserve treats for special occasions and training rewards. Many treats are just empty calories that may interfere with the way they use the quality food you provide in their bowl. Make sure the treats you do give them are as good or of better quality than their normal food. You can also break larger treats into smaller pieces and give them out one at a time; your dog would rather you treat him five times with a bite-sized chunk than one time with a whole biscuit.

Remember, you hold the life and health of your dog in your hands. You must be the trainer, dietician, pack leader, and security blanket. If you exercise self-control for your dog, you will have a healthy companion for a long time.

Brock Lorber -- investor, aviation coach, author, and dog lover -- provides helpful tips for the care, feeding, and training of your dog.

You can subscribe to his newsletter at his website,

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