Much of a dog’s quality of life is determined by whether or not he gets the proper amount of food to eat. Many pets are overfed and experience mobility issues, heart disease, and other complications as a result, but it is just as harmful to feed your pet too little.
It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to try to get the balance just right. Ask yourself these four questions to determine if your dog might be getting too much or too little to eat.
1. Does your dog look heftier than other dogs his size, especially around the waist?
He’s probably eating too much.
It can be difficult to judge when a dog is overweight, but this is a sure-fire sign that the animal is eating too much. A healthy dog should have a defined waist that can clearly be seen even under long fur.
If you’re not sure about what you’re seeing, you can also try feeling along your dog’s ribcage; you should be able to feel his ribs with a little gentle pressure. If you have to really look for them or can’t feel them at all, there is too much fat in the way.
2. Does your dog have low energy?
He might not be getting enough food.
Like all living creatures, dogs eat to replace the energy they use up during each day. A dog that isn’t getting enough nutrition won’t have the fuel he needs to live an active life. In response, he’ll start to slow down, moving only as much as he has to.
This is especially noticeable in dogs who were previously very active, but even dogs who don’t usually move much will become lethargic and listless when they’re consistently underfed.
3. Is your dog vomiting a lot?
Too much food may be to blame.
When a dog ingests a lot of food at once, the sheer volume of it can backfire on them. Instead of digesting it properly, they may vomit it up. A dog that vomits frequently may be overeating even if he hasn’t gained any weight.
It’s important to note that vomiting in dogs can also happen for many other reasons, including systemic illnesses that need to be treated by a vet. If this is the only symptom of overeating that your pet is displaying, it might be worth getting them looked at by a vet to rule out these other potential problems.
4. Does your dog have a dull, sparse-looking coat?
He might not be eating enough.
A dog’s fur grows with the help of the nutrients in its food. Fatty acids are particularly important to this process. While most dog food contains more than enough of them to give your dog a soft, shiny coat, he has to eat enough of it to achieve that effect.
Underfed dogs can also develop dandruff in their fur, which you’re sure to spot. These symptoms should not be thought of as cosmetic issues; they indicate significant nutritional deficiencies that need to be corrected so your dog can live a long and healthy life.
Both overeating and undereating are bad for your dog’s health, but the good news is that this pet health factor is within your control as an owner. Feed your dog the appropriate amount of food for their size and age, and be sure to give them quality food that satisfies them and provides all the nutrients they need. Once you’ve established this new feeding routine, you’re sure to end up with a happier, healthier dog.
One final thought is to move your dog to eating twice daily instead of one big feeding and/or “free feeding” by leaving a bowl out all day for your pup to graze on.