“It is estimated that more than half of all dogs in the US and the UK are overweight. (Reference 1) Veterinarians talk about the canine obesity crisis as badly as public health experts talk about the obesity crisis in humans. Many people think that obesity is one of the most important welfare problems for pets. ”
Our dog companions rely on us to give them the best possible life in a human-dominated world. Most dogs love to eat and we know how, what, who and how much we feed our canine companions directly to their weight and health. And while many dogs simply have to wait to be fed by their humans, we also know that many don’t mind working for food. (See “Working for food enriches dog lives and breaks boredom.”) We also know that far too many dogs carry too much weight around with them and that “feeding the wolf in your dog is far too often ill-advised. because the nutritional and calorie needs of companion dogs and wild wolves are very different. (See “Should I really feed the wolf in my dog?”) Here I wonder how we feed our dogs and how much we offer them in a world in which we control their tastes and needs There are many important lessons to be learned from revisiting these subjects.
How we feed our canine companions
What you feed your dog is important, but the manner in which food is offered is also important in developing and maintaining strong and lasting social bonds between you and your dog.
There is no simple rule of how dogs should be fed, and each dog must be treated as a unique person. One of the things we can do as human carers to our canine friends is take care of the vehicle they use to get food. It is important to think about your dog’s shape, size, physical ability, and eating style in terms of the shape, size, placement, and height of the food bowl. What could work best to make eating comfortable and easy for your dog? Some examples of frustrating situations for a dog might include a very hungry dog trying to eat nibbles from a smooth, flat plate because the nibbles keep moving out of reach of their tongue. a basset hound who always gets away from dinner and has half the food on his ears; or a pug who must have difficulty getting his nose to the bottom of a very deep bowl. For older dogs, a raised bowl can make eating more comfortable. Raised food bowls work well for very large dogs – keep in mind that you have to bend below your knees to eat your food – and shallow food bowls work well for puppies and short-nosed dogs.
Some dogs certainly “devour” their food, and some people like to brag about it. However, wild animals only do this under certain conditions. For dogs that are eating too quickly or swallowing their food, which can make them sick, a slow feeder may be a good idea. Hand-feeding can be good for puppies as it helps build bonds and can avoid competition for food when there are older, larger dogs. Using different feeding methods can also reduce competition between older dogs who prefer different feeding styles.
What, who and how much do we feed our dog companions
Freedom from overeating may sound completely uninteresting, but eating too much is unhealthy and poor health is an inhibitor of freedom. Obesity can have a number of negative effects on dog health. It can cause inflammation, heart disease, arthritis, ligament and muscle injuries, breathing problems, and liver disease that can affect a dog’s health as much as ours. This can make walking, running, and playing less comfortable for dogs and thus affect the overall quality of life.
It is estimated that more than half of all dogs in the US and the UK are overweight. (Reference 1) Veterinarians speak just as terribly about the canine obesity crisis as public health experts talk about the human obesity crisis. Many consider obesity to be a major concern for pet welfare. It is no accident that dogs and humans got fat together: we and our dogs eat a lot of junk food, we eat more than we need, and we don’t get enough exercise. Overeating is a form of abuse and can have serious consequences. Psychology today Writer and bioethicist Jessica Pierce heard a story from her local animal shelter about a dog that was adopted and brought back three months later after gaining forty pounds. He had to be part of the nursing program; He needed a temporary home where he could get extra exercise and be brought back to a healthy weight before being adopted by another family.
Like humans, dogs can be overfed and undernourished at the same time. There is tons of junk dog food like pup peroni, snausages, and pup corn dog food on pet store shelves that are smartly packaged to appeal to human consumers. As with humans, a bit of junk food is unlikely to shorten your dog’s lifespan, but no one should live on donuts alone.
Think about what you put in your dog’s mouth just as you would think about what you put in your child’s mouth. Consider the nutritional profile of your dog’s food, not just the price, as you usually get what you pay for. Much of the so-called food on the market is rubbish. However, there is a large selection of high quality food available at moderate prices. Do some research and speak to your veterinarian about your dog’s specific nutritional needs so you can find a food that provides adequate nutrition and that your dog will naturally enjoy. Many pet stores allow you to return food products if your dog doesn’t like them so you and your dog can experiment.
If you have a dog that is a bit wide around the belly, measure its food and include snacks in your total calorie count. “Sampling” half a cup of snacks is deceptively difficult – give it a try and see how accurate or inaccurate you are. If you offer overweight dog table scraps, feed them less with meals or make the table scraps a part of your meal. For dogs who are insatiable, splitting the daily diet into several smaller meals can help make them feel more satisfied. For example, Maya now eats four small meals a day since she is a senior citizen. She has thyroid disease, which makes her very hungry, and the time between meals seems to be very long. There is no rule to feed dogs only once or twice a day. Simply measure the daily feed carefully so that you do not feed more than is healthy.
Individual dogs obviously differ in what they need and how they process food. If you are feeding processed snacks or canned food, be aware that the feeding instructions on the back of a dog food bag may not be exactly right for your dog. The guidelines for the amount of food used by dog food manufacturers are generally bloated. After all, your goal is to sell more groceries. Eating and feeding can also be emotionally complicated. For example, the food your dog eats can affect his mood (Reference 2), and some dogs are stress eaters. (Reference 3) In addition, many people and dogs love food. People use food and feeding to build trust and bond with their dog. And look at us longingly as if they were really starving, even if they had only eaten half an hour ago. It can be cruel to deprive hungry dogs of what they really want – namely, more food! But we’re doing dogs a disservice by allowing them to become overweight. Since we control their diet, it is our responsibility to keep them at a healthy weight.
Finally, here are two interesting research results on the subject of eating and feeding. First, Labrador Retrievers have a reputation for being food pigs. Apparently there is a reason for this: laboratories have a genetic mutation that makes them extremely hungry. (Reference 4) Second, if your dog is not “weight loss”, you can add a little fat to their diet, which can have a surprising side effect: when dogs eat more fat than protein, their sense of smell may improve. (Reference 5)
Look forward to further discussions on how we can keep our canine companions happy, slim and fit, satisfy their taste wants and needs, and at the same time enable them to live the best possible life in a world where we pretty much control how, what, who and how much we feed. When we understand how to provide them with a tasty life that also offers a healthy life, it is a win-win for everyone.
Some of the above excerpts are made Unleash Your Dog: A Guide To Help Your Canine Companion Have The Best Life Possible. I thank Jessica Pierce for her collaboration on this and other projects.
This story was originally published by Psychologytoday.com. Reprinted with permission.