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You do your dog no favour in overfeeding
27.04.09 - 18:57 -

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Fat is out
An undated photo of Cassie, a 9-year-old labrador, whose former owner allowed her to grow to a weight of 189 pounds. The new owner in California put her on a special diet and exercise, and Cassie now weighs 89 pounds. / AP
An advertisement in a San Francisco magazine of 1890 caught my eye. Professor Williams “Fat-Ten-U Foods” guarantees to make thin ladies “Plump and rosy with honest fleshiness of form”, and goes on to advise: “Get plump”. Now, how about that? How times have changed! Now the governor of New York proposes a fifteen per cent tax on sweetened sodas as an obesity charge and British broadcaster Anne Diamond has a programme, “War on Fat”, and says it is lifestyle which makes you fat, and conjures up a word “Obesogenic”. Seems that fatties are definitely out and thinnies are in.
Well, we all have a choice, however hard. However with our dogs we make the choice for them. If we feed them a lot, they will eat a lot … and suffer as a result. In the feral state they may eat their fill but then they run and run for miles and maybe face days without food. Chasing after prey is enough exercise to keep them thin. In the domestic environment into which we have enticed them, they have no such challenge.
“He still wants more, so he must be hungry”. I have heard that said so many times and it is simply not true. Never feed your dog until he can eat no more. A good plan is to calculate how much he will eat normally until he is replete and then feed him seventy percent of that. That is what he should eat rather than what he wants to eat and thereby you keep him in good shape and fit.
Frequency

How many times a day should you feed your dog? Puppies under six months and old age pension dogs should have three small meals a day. In between they should have one or two meals but introduce the change slowly. Personally I prefer to feed a dog one main meal in the morning then a snack before the late night stroll.
So much depends on lifestyle. A dog which goes for long walks and is young needs more food than an elderly dog which curls up on the mat at home and takes the odd stroll. The best person for advice is your vet so why not discuss the matter with him or her.
One thing is certain. You do your dog no favour in overfeeding. Obesity means poor health, difficult breathing, shortened lifespan and vet bills for you. He relies on you, so do not let him down. Fat dogs are not happy dogs.
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