My pup is overweight (or underweight) – help!
By Rudy Leschke —
2 Minute Read
health + nutrition
As with humans, weight management in dogs is largely a balance between energy expenditure and food/energy consumption (i.e. calories in vs. calories out). The availability of high-quality pet foods and the sedentary lives of many dogs has resulted in a high incidence of overweight dogs in the American dog population – upwards of 25% to 30%, while the underweight dog population is estimated at only 2%.
The most effective way for your pup to maintain a healthy body weight is to provide some daily exercise and to closely regulate food intake.
Changes in activity levels can significantly alter energy needs. Dogs tend to become more sedentary as they age, beginning when the pet reaches maturity and have less interest in rowdy play. As activity levels decrease, so does a dog’s calorie requirement. Continuing to feed at levels designed for normal activity will result in obesity.
Ideal weight can be achieved by feeding an adult maintenance recipe with calorie restriction (smaller feeding amounts), but overfeeding is common, and many pets will easily gain weight when eating these foods. A weight-control recipe is a good option for pet parents that have a harder time balancing activity levels with food energy needs.
While less common, approximately 2% of the pet population is still underweight. This occurs when activity or stress levels create an energy need that exceeds the pet’s food consumption. Consumption might be limited by poor palatability (your pup doesn’t like their food), or by a food that is not properly formulated for high activity, which is usually achieved through carbohydrate and fat content.
In either case, energy intake can be improved by feeding a diet designed for highly active dogs. These foods usually have higher fat levels than normal maintenance diets, which tend to improve palatability.
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