Some studies have suggested that 60% of pets in the United States are overweight, leading to a variety of health problems for our four-legged friends.
Being overweight results in greater stress on the joints as well as the heart, makes our pets more prone to injury and surgery, and shortens their lives. Chubby Cavalier puppies are cute, but being heavy early in life can lead to obesity in an adult Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Weigh your pet regularly. At home, weigh yourself first. Then, holding your Cavalier in your arms, step on the scale for a second time. The difference in the two measurements is the weight of your dog.
Adult Cavalier Spaniels generally weigh 13 to 20 lbs, but keep in mind every dog is different. How can you judge whether your Cavalier Spaniel is at a healthy weight? Take a good look at your dog (from above, i.e. an “aerial view”) and follow these guidelines:
If your dog’s ribs are noticeable to the eye and too easily felt, and if his waist below the ribs is pronounced, then your pet is too thin.
You won’t generally see your dog’s ribs if he is at his ideal weight, although you should easily feel them through only a slight layer of fat over your dog’s ribs. Your dog should have only minimal abdominal fat and his waist should be noticeable. When looking at your pet from above, he’ll have a pleasing hour glass shape.
If your pet is overweight, you won’t be able to see your pet’s ribs or easily feel them because of the moderate layer of fat over his ribs. His waist will not be particularly noticeable due to more than necessary abdominal fat.
In an obese dog, you won’t be able to see or feel his ribs at all. Abdominal fat will be heavy and your dog won’t appear to have a waist as his abdomen will be distended.
Avoiding an Overweight Cavalier
The best medicine is always prevention. Your goal should be to keep your dog from becoming overweight in the first place.
Whenever you notice your pet starting to look a little “chunky”, it’s time to adjust his eating routine.
- Exercise is very important to your dog’s health. Take your dog for a few extra walks everyday.
- Cut back on the number of treats you give him, and substitute lower-calorie alternatives.
- Switch your Cavalier to a dog food especially formulated for overweight dogs.
- Take him to see your Vet to rule out any medical condition that could be responsible for your dog’s obesity.
Food portion guidelines you find on the label of your pet food is only a starting point. Be aware that the pet food manufacturer doesn’t know how active your dog is, or how many treats you give him during the day. Pet owners need to customize the amount of food to each dog’s situation.