I wrote recently about how lots of people at a recent Beagle Club event had thought Beanie was too thin, but her vet and many non-beagle owners (and us!) thought she was in great shape.
Well it seems now that Beanie might be eating too much!! :)
She weights 9.6 kg, and her weight hasn’t changed much for a couple of months. Although she has got a little bit bigger and consequently leaner. The vet said this is fine and normal – she’ll bulk up in her own good time. We decided a couple of weeks ago (when she was 9 months old) that as she was over the rapid growth stage that it was time to put her on adult food.
She’d previously been on Burns Mini Bites and eating the maximum amount advised for puppies of her size – about 8 ounces a day. We switched her to Burns Adult Kibble and the guidelines say a maximum of 4 ounces a day for a dog of her size – so half the amount of a less concentrated food. Clearly she’d need to stay on at least 8 ounces if she was to maintain her weight.
So for a couple of weeks now we’ve been giving her adult food at double the recommended amount and she’s not put on an ounce (well she put on a tiny bit then promptly went back to her normal weight). The really puzzling thing is, that when she was under 7 months and growing quickly she had the appetite of sparrow and rarely ate more than 3 or 4 ounces of mini-bites a day. Now that she’s stopped growing (and has been spayed) she’s eating more than twice the amount of food and is much leaner.
I was concerned that given her levels of activity (which are very high compared to other dogs we know) that we’d taken her off puppy food to soon. I decided to contact the Burns advice centre for advice, and sent them her vital statistics and some photos of her. Here’s what they had to say:
Your dog looks fantastic and we would not like to see her carrying anymore
weight. She is within the weight range for her breed and you cannot see her
You should be able to feel the ribs and backbone easily and see a tucked in
We would recommend very gradually reducing the amount of food fed. This
should be done over perhaps a two month period. If you feel she is really
not satisfied on the adult food then the Canine Extra or High Energy Lamb
diets would be recommended but the volume would have to be reduced. As she
is under 12 months we would recommend around 150 grams per day.
Some dogs grow to be greedy and not hungry. My colleague’s dog would eat a
whole 15kg bag of food and still want more!
We would try and reduce the amount of food fed to your dog but would not try
to achieve weight gain; she looks fab as she is.
Interestingly, the Burns web site says the following in their FAQ (http://www.burns-pet-nutrition.co.uk/frequently_asked_questions.htm#anchorover):
I CAN’T BE OVERFEEDING BECAUSE MY DOG IS NOT OVERWEIGHT
NO!! Many pets which are overfed do not put on weight because they discharge the excess rather than store it as fat. This discharge of excess tends to occur in those pets which are physically active. It is the less active ones which become overweight.
MY PET IS UNDERWEIGHT. SHOULD I FEED HIM MORE?
It is first necessary to establish if the pet really is underweight. There are so many overweight dogs that a fit, lean dog looks underweight. Forget what the charts and scales say. You should be able to feel the dog’s ribs with only a thin covering of skin. In a short-coated dog you should not be able to see the ribs and the bones should not be prominent. Many dogs are lean because they are active, not because they need more food. Often, increasing the food intake will reduce the efficiency of digestion so the dog may not put on weight.
Which sounds hard to believe, but I have to say that in Beanie’s case whether we feed her more or less her weight remains constant.
The FAQ also says:
MY PET HAS DRY, FLAKY SKIN. DOES HE NEED MORE OIL IN HIS DIET?
No! Dry, flaky skin (dandruff or scurf) is a sign that there is an excess of waste matter in the system. It is not a sign that anything is lacking in the diet. The solution is to feed a high quality diet in smaller amounts. This will enable the body to eliminate the waste matter and the skin condition will then improve.
Well Beanie’s coat is lovely and glossy, but she has been suffering from a mild ichy skin problem that we can’t seem to be able to connect to any allergen or irritant. The mild itching first started at around the time when her appetite increased and she started doubling the amount of food she eats. Then the little flare up of more intense itching occured when I started giving her yet more food because people had thought she was too thin.
So in the last couple of weeks we were worrying about whether to feed her more, and now we’re worrying about whether to feed her less!! But I think my first step will be to keep her overall food intake the same, but to feed her more frequent small meals. Then I’ll try cutting back a little and see if she maintains her weight.