Here’s the most heartbreaking fact of modern pet parenting: as much as we all love our dogs as equal family members, more than half of us either feed them too much, or don’t exercise them enough. According to several studies, over 50% of US dogs (ruffly 40 million) are clinically overweight or obese. Overweight dogs live shorter lives and have a lower quality of life.
Why do we allow this? We think it’s because they’re so damn cute. Unlike humans, dogs in bad physical condition still look perfectly adorable, and fill our hearts with joy…at the expense of their health.
Overweight dogs are unhealthy dogs
Ready to hear this? Feeding our dogs too much puts them on track for a lower quality of life, a shorter life expectancy, and the potential to develop medical issues that end up costing us a lot of time and money. Here are a few examples:
- Musculoskeletal problems
- Cruciate ligament ruptures
- Intervertebral disk problems
- Congestive heart failure
- Oral diseases
- Skin disorders
- Cushing’s disease
- Certain types of cancer
So how much food is just right?
Starting from the feeding guide on your dog’s food label is generally a good idea. But how wide is that range?! The recommendation for an active dog is often 2.0-2.5 times that for a less active dog.
Here at FitBark we thought we could be a little more precise. As your dog moves and collects BarkPoints, his calorie expenditure increases. So why not use this information to estimate how much to feed him?
Here are a few steps to help your dog achieve his ideal weight through diet:
- Ask your veterinarian to assess his Body Condition Score (BCS) and what his ideal weight should be
- Monitor his calorie burn for a couple of weeks with the FitBark mobile app and average out what you find (we’re working on automating this for you!)
- Feed below calorie burn if your dog needs to lose weight (or above if he needs to gain weight)
Whether your goal is weight loss or sports training, FitBark makes you smarter about how your dog’s daily food intake and exercise play together. Of course, always use common sense. Your dog will love you even more if you work gradually on changing food intake, or exercise, or both.