It's all too easy to over feed our dogs, giving them bits of our human food (who can resist those puppy dog eyes?), treats when training, and estimating their food amount. But how do you know if your dog is at its ideal weight?
All breeds can vary in size, I have two toy poodles and one is slightly taller than the other, but smaller features and much skinner, so they get fed different amounts despite being the same breed.
How to check
A general rule of thumb to check if your dog is a healthy size is to gently press your fingers against their last two ribs. If you can feel them easily just from touching then perhaps your dog is a little on the skinny side. If you move your fingers across their skin slightly to feel the ribs then they are probably at their perfect weight. If you have to move the flesh around quite a bit to feel their ribs, or can't feel them at all, then you probably need to look at what you are feeding them.
Also you should be able to see from above that between their ribs and hips their body curves in at the sides. As well as looking at them sideways their stomach goes up from their ribs towards their back legs.
How much should you feed them?
Usually a breeder should give you instructions on what food they should be eating. But generally as puppies they eat not just more meals a day, but a bigger amount of food too. As you reduce the amount of meals, you reduce the amount of food as well.
There are plenty of charts online to find a guide on what you should be feeding your dog. But the important thing to remember is when you add in treats to the mix, you need to reduce the food amount.
I raw feed my dogs and really like this guide by the Raw Feeding Rebels.
Villanelle who is my skinner poodle has 47g twice a day, Darcy has 40g twice a day. If I give them a larger meal one time, such as eating a rib or something that usually weighs over 50g, I will reduce their food amount the next meal/day.
If I give them extra treats, which I tend to do if I'm going out and leaving them home alone for a while, then I will also reduce their food by a few grams.
Raw feeding is great for dogs, and a good way to help keep them fit and healthy. It can help improve their coat, skin, breath and teeth, as well as smaller, less smelly and less frequent poos for you to pick up! Talking of carrying poo, have you seen our new Pookey
keyring? It will hold those smelly bags for you when you can't find a bin, it just clips onto your lead for hands free poo holding! Any enough about our products, and back to raw feeding!
Dogs need a balanced diet of 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal. They don't need any fruit or veggies, their stomaches can't process them the same way we do, so think of those as more like a treat. Some dogs, like my Darcy, cannot eat anything with veg in, her stomach just can't cope.
It may sound daunting to some, especially if you are on a plant-based diet. The thought of weighing out and cutting up bones and offal to give your dog the right amount. I'm really not a fan of that myself. I tend to occasionally give them some bones and meat chunks, but I mainly use complete mince meals where someone has done all the work for me. I'm a fan of a newly launched business called Raw Made Simple
. The team there are lovely, the are Essex based like us and their packaging and website are really simple and clear for dog owners. If you want more of a DIY meal solution, the check out Primal Raw
, they offer lots of different brands, so you can research and try different brands to find what your dog likes best.
Now I hear so many people talk about their dog being fussy, "I tried raw and they just wouldn't eat it". There is no such thing as a fussy dog. I won't go into detail on this now, this needs a blog post in itself, stay tuned for that. I followed this rule for Darcy who I thought was fussy and now she will eat whatever I give her!
Low fat treats
There are lots of low fat healthy treats you can get for dogs. Try to avoid biscuit type treats, and look to more natural treats. There are plenty that can help entertain them for ages, help clean their teeth and maintain a healthy gut. Check out The Bark Bites and Nibble and Nosh for some tasty natural treats!
Monitor your dog's weight
It's a good idea to keep an eye on your dog's weight. Weigh them regularly. Some groomers often have scales, or Pets At Home usually has a free scales you can use. Like us humans, their weight will go up and down depending on how much exercise they get and what they are eating.
As you start to come familiar with their weight changes you will know if they are eating the right amounts or not.
Of course if you are totally unsure, be sure to check with your vet and a dog nutritionist.
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Photo by Jorge Zapata on Unsplash