Just like any animal on the planet (including humans) it is really important that a healthy weight is maintained. Excess fat negatively impacts a dog’s health and longevity. A study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College in 2021 found that 1 in 14 dogs (recorded by their vet) were overweight and this problem is only worsening.
Some breeds are more prone to weight gain, such as Pugs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers and English Springer Spaniels. There are a variety of health problems that come with excess weight or obesity, not to mention that it can shorten their lifespan by between 6-12 months. A larger study even found that only moderately overweight Labrador Retrievers had shorter lives by nearly 2 years compared to their leaner counterparts. Obesity-related health concerns include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis, all of which are preventable with correct weight management.
Based on what breed of dog you own will depend on their ideal weight, although following the Kennel Club breed standard isn’t always a definitive rule for a dog’s healthy weight. Some breeds of dogs can be larger than this standard and perfectly healthy; similarly, others can be smaller but not classed as underweight. Likewise, if your dog is a mixed breed it can be harder to identify their ideal weight. There are, thankfully, some simple physical and visual health checks owners can carry out to assess their dog’s weight. The chart below offers a great way to assess your dog, no matter the breed, age, or size.
Why weighing your dog’s food is important
Here we’ll discuss the main reasons why it’s important to weigh out the correct amount of food for your dog and how to make your life a little easier in doing so.
- Nutrition and health– Complete dog foods contain carefully balanced nutrients to ensure your dog is provided with everything they need on a daily basis to maintain an ideal weight. Feeding a complete meal is convenient and can give the owner peace of mind that their pets are getting a balanced and biologically appropriate feed without the need for owners to supplement their dogs’ diets with additional vitamins, minerals etc.
- Weight management- As mentioned above, it is really important that your dog, no matter the size, breed or age, is at their correct, healthy weight but all dogs are different and no two dietary requirements will be the same. A dog that is over or underweight can face a variety of health issues. When dogs are fed the correct amount of a high-quality complete food on a daily basis it is easy for them to maintain a healthy weight. But as humans, we know all too well how quickly we can gain or lose weight despite having healthy diets and this is the same for dogs, so contributing factors need to be taken into account for each and every dog, such as treats, activity levels and potential health issues that affect weight and metabolism.
- Cost-effectiveness- Ensuring you weigh out the correct amount means you don’t overfeed your pets and your bag of complete food will last the right amount of time. Furthermore, it saves having to purchase more food. Our feeding guide and cost calculator are based on this consistent feeding approach.
- Routine- Research has shown that most dogs enjoy a daily routine; the structure helps them know what to expect and helps them relax into their day. In fact, having a routine has been proven to help some dogs with behavioural issues. Feeding at set times each day can also help with scheduling walks; some people like the benefits of feeding their dogs after their daily walk which can help to settle a dog down after they have eaten but also means not exercising them on a full stomach.
Your dog’s kibble doesn’t have to be given in the same way every mealtime. To help enrich dogs’ minds and keep them both mentally and physically healthy there are other ways to give your dog their dinner:
- If your dog gulps their food quickly, perhaps consider using a slow feeding bowl which have become popular in recent years. Designed with obstructions inside, they help to slow the dog down and make mealtime last longer. - An easy way of slowing down meal times whilst also keeping the fun might be to use an old towel: lay it flat out on the floor and scatter the kibble all over the towel, then roll it up from the shorter end and allow your dog to unroll it revealing the kibble a little bit at a time. - Snuffle mats have also grown in popularity. These are strips of fleece or material attached to a rubber or plastic base creating places where kibble can be hidden underneath meaning the dog has to ‘snuffle’ around in the material pieces to find the kibble. You can purchase these or make them yourself using scraps of material and a rubber doormat. - Gardens make amazing natural snuffle mats, if you have a grass garden you can use this much like the snuffle mat above. Take some of your dog's kibble, throw it onto the grass and allow your dog to sniff out the pieces as a great way to get them engaged outdoors and moving around to find their food. - Some owners like their dogs to ‘work for their dinner’ meaning they use dinner time as an opportunity to train certain behaviours or play games with their dogs. Using their daily amount of kibble as the reward means the dog is engaging its brain but not overeating.
- Weigh out your dog’s specified amount per meal and, using a permanent marker, draw a ring around the top of the kibble level. Using the pre-drawn line means you can quickly scoop their kibble to the right amount without having to reach for the measuring scales every time.
To help tackle pet obesity it is really important to look at not only the quantity but what else we are feeding our dogs. Titbits and treats are useful for training or simply to ‘treat’ your best friend, however, these need to be taken into account when calculating their daily intake of nutrients. It’s very easy to give your dog the correct amount of complete food and then accidentally overfeed elsewhere. We’re certainly not suggesting you stop giving treats, however, it's worth keeping a general eye on your dog’s overall health and weight and adjusting their daily feed accordingly. There may be days where they get more treats than others and by simply taking out a small amount of their complete food for that day it can help to maintain their ideal weight and ensure they’re not overfed. Likewise, if you feel your dog is underweight you can up their daily feed a little or consider introducing supplements that build condition without increasing fat.
Eden tailored Feeding Calculator
Located on the Eden website under the ‘Help & Advice’ header is our ‘Feeding Guide’ option. All you have to do is put in your dog’s ideal weight, their life stage and the product of either wet or dry food that you’re interested in. The guide will assist with suggesting products and how much to feed per day along with the exact cost per day. It’s worth noting that this is the total for the day not per meal; if you choose to feed twice a day then the total is obviously divided by 2 and similarly by 3 if it’s 3 times etc.
There’s no one who knows your dog better than you, therefore with any feeding guide, it is just that; a guide. Some dogs are more energetic and burn off food easily whereas others are less mobile and require careful food management. Whatever type of dog you’ve got it’s worth keeping a regular eye on their weight and body condition. If you notice any changes, you can help them back to their ideal weight with just a few adjustments. Finally, if your dog’s weight changes drastically in a short period of time, we’d always recommend speaking with your veterinarian straight away to rule out any serious causes.Click here to use our bespoke Feeding Calculator
- Royal Veterinary College - 23 March 2021 https://www.rvc.ac.uk/vetcompass/news/rvc-study-reveals-extent-of-dog-obesity-crisis-in-the-uk (Accessed 27 January 2023)