Canine obesity is a serious problem but, luckily, it’s 100% preventable (assuming there are no underlying medical conditions)! A good, high-quality diet and sufficient exercise are very important in a dog’s life. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can help prolong his life, prevent injuries, and improve his overall quality of life. The image below shows the canine Body Condition Score chart. Keep in mind that some breeds will naturally be leaner and may not 100% follow the chart below. Most sighthounds, for example, are very lean dogs. Bone structure can also play a role and may cause hip bones to be visible even when the dog is at a healthy weight.
When it comes to a dog’s daily caloric requirements, many dog food manufacturers’ recommended portion sizes can be too much for some dogs. A guide to the recommended caloric intake based on weight for the average indoor dog can be found here: https://petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs (this is a general guide for healthy, lightly active ADULT dogs and will NOT apply to all dogs).
On the contrary, recommended caloric needs listed in the link above or suggested portion sizes listed on a bag of food may not be enough for some dogs. For example, if your dog is needing to gain weight, if they are highly active, or if they have a high metabolism. You could have 2 dogs that are both 50lbs that receive the same amount of exercise but require very different daily caloric needs.
Please do your own research and consult with a canine nutritionist for information pertaining to your particular dog and his/her individual nutrition needs.
*The boxer in the photo above has a medical condition that causes her spine to protrude which is why it looks like her back is roached, but her overall body condition is healthy and ideal. Depending on the breed, you want to see an abdominal tuck when looking from the side and an hourglass shape when looking down at the dog from above. You want to be able to easily feel the ribs but not see them (they may be visible when the dog is breathing heavily).
Keeping your dog’s nails short is vital for their health. Long toenails cause a myriad of problems for your dog:
- Pressure in the nail bed when walking, which can then cause your dog to alter the way they walk which then affects joint health and muscles (imagine wearing a shoe that is a few sizes too small all day, every day).
- Long nails can snag on blankets, carpets, furniture, etc. and might result in a vet visit if your dog gets hurt trying to free themself.
- If a puppy’s nails aren’t kept short, this can potentially affect the growth of the foot and toes.
- Can cause your dog to splay their feet when walking which is unnatural.
Maintenence & Trimming Schedule:
- If the dog’s nails are very long and you’re trying to get the kwik (blood source to the toenail) to recede, you should file, Dremel, or clip your dog’s nails every 3-4 days.
- Once the nails reach a desirable length (toenails not touching the ground when the dog is standing), you can reduce trimming to once a week or once every 2 weeks depending on the dog. Exceptions may apply, such as a dog whose nails grow very fast.
If your dog doesn’t enjoy nail trims, join these Facebook groups for help & support Dog Nail Maintenence and Nail Maintenence for Dogs.
Importance of Crate Training
The absolute safest and most useful thing you can do for your dog is to crate train it. Not only does it help with housebreaking, but it’s also great for:
- Keeping your dog safe while unattended (prevents them from rummaging through trash or cabinets, counter surfing, destroying furniture, etc.)
- If you ever stay at a hotel or someone else’s home with your dog
- Having to be hospitalized at a vet
- Going to a boarding facility or boarding at someone’s home
- Needing to be on crate rest following an injury or surgery
- Practicing being calm
Types of Crates
The most commonly used crate is a wire crate. These are easy to fold up & transport and are the most affordable, but they might not work for all dogs. Dogs who have phobias, separation problems, or destructive tendencies might do best in a different type of crate, such as ones that are chew-proof or create a den-like feel with an enclosed/dark space. Other crates to consider that are safer and more durable than wire crates are:
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great sources for secondhand crates.
*Pictured at the top of the blog is the crash-tested G1 Intermediate Gunner Kennel.