Your dog depends on you for the necessities of life—food, water and shelter. In addition, though, a key responsibility is to stay abreast of your dog’s medical condition and to keep your dog as healthy as possible.
One of the best ways to ensure good health is by maintaining a proper weight. Studies have shown that a complete and balanced ration fed in amounts to sustain a dog’s ideal body condition can help extend its life. For hunters and field trialers, that means more productive years in the field with your dogs.
Ideal body condition is not an indicator of whether your dog is in top shape muscularly but more a gauge of your dog’s overall health and well-being. While an underweight dog presents its own set of issues, a far more common sight is an overweight dog. Just as with people, excess weight increases the risk of blood sugar levels, blood pressure and heart rate. Also, an overweight dog in the field tires more easily and is more likely to overheat on a warm day—both of which lead to inability to stay focused.
How to determine your dog’s body condition.
Nestle Purina Pet Care Center developed a system, the Body Condition System, that examines specific areas of the dog’s body such as ribs, waist and abdominal tuck. Based on observations of those areas, a body condition score is assigned. The scores range from 1 (Emaciated) to 9 (Grossly Obese) with the ideal condition being 4 or 5. To view the Nestle Purina Body Condition chart, click here.
Feeding for ideal body condition.
To keep your dog in ideal body condition, follow these simple guidelines.
- Choose a high-quality dog food. We feed and recommend ProPlan Performance.
- Feed the proper amount. To determine the correct ration, start with the suggested serving amount on the dog food bag. Use a measuring cup–don’t guess! Because the feeding amounts are merely suggestions based on an average, monitor your dog’s body condition. It might need more or less.
- Don’t supplement with vitamins, minerals or table scraps. Too many supplements or too many high calorie treats can dilute the nutritional value of a dog’s diet, predispose them to obesity or cause a finicky eater.
- Feed your dog at the same time each day.
By establishing a feeding routine and feeding the proper amounts, your dog should be eager to eat its food. (Also, if a normally good eater fails to eat, it could be an early sign of a health-related issue.)
Monitoring your dog’s weight and using the Purina Body Condition System will help you keep your dog in ideal body condition. This will take effort and observation on your part but will pay big dividends in the long run—both for your dog’s health and for more rewarding days afield.
For more information on the Purina Body Condition System as well as other dog health and feeding related topics, visit the Purina website at www.purina.com/dogs.