Some breeds, particularly very active breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel, are commonly reported to have an enthusiastic appetite. Their energy requirements are often likely to be higher due to their activity levels, but it is important to monitor body condition due to the risk of overfeeding.
There are a number of ways in which you can whilst making sure they don’t put on excess weight by feeding them a healthy and controlled diet.
Read on to find out more.
One of the ways you can help your breed with food obsession is to put your dog’s dry food in puzzle toys (known as Puzzle Feeders). By keeping your dog’s attention engaged in the task of actually obtaining the food, the feeding process itself will be prolonged and it is more likely to provide fulfillment and satisfaction.
Avoid giving extras in response to begging for food, instead you can also hide your dog’s food around the home, which will allow him to “hunt” for his food through following the scent, which plays into his natural instincts and provides a sense of achievement.
Essentially, look for ways to provide interest, attention and stimulation through feeding your dog. Find other ways to reward your dog during training or strengthen your bond with them, such as a favourite toy or game, or by using clicker training.
It’s important that you feed a good quality complete diet that’s tailored to age, size and breed. Follow the feeding guidelines closely, monitor body weight and body condition, and spread rations throughout the day. Ensure any extra food rewards do not constitute more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake and reduce the ration of their main food accordingly.
Remember, daily feeding quantities can be adjusted to maintain body condition. Ask your vet or vet nurse to let you know your dog’s ideal bodyweight, and to show you how to score their body condition. If maintaining your dog’s bodyweight becomes difficult, consider switching to a ‘light’ diet formulated for dog’s prone to weight gain.
Another way of ensuring your breed sticks to a complete diet is to keep any food they are liable to scavenge safely out of reach.
Some breeds have an exceptionally brilliant sense of smell, and can find food anywhere in your home, even in your rubbish bin. Dogs with a big appetite will often attempt to eat discarded food if given the chance, even if they have just eaten their own food, which can contribute to obesity and digestive upsets.
To prevent this, place rubbish bags in a bin with a lid outside or out of reach, such as in your garage or an outdoor area they can’t gain access to.
Additionally, you can lock your cabinets and store your dog’s food and treats in air-tight containers. If you still feel that your dog could potentially sniff out and freely gain access to their food by force, you could also use child-proof locks as a fool-proof precaution.
Exercise your dog regularly to help them burn off excess calories and keep fit. A brisk walk daily or a game of fetch can keep your dog in good shape, daily exercise should ideally last between 45 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remember to keep your breed on a leash when outdoors if they are untrained or particularly active – breeds such as Cocker Spaniels can easily become distracted by scents and trot off for a wander.
If you’re still concerned that your dog has an excessive appetite, we recommend that you consult your vet for further advice.
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