Nutrition for the Best Basset Hound
Balanced nutrition and portion control can help your food-loving Basset battle the bulge.
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Modern Bassets and modern Americans have two things in common: Many are overweight and undernourished. The culprits are overeating, junk food and lack of exercise. Admittedly, its hard not to overfeed a Basset. Their sad expressions and pleading eyes often convince the hapless owner that the dog will starve to death if not given treats immediately. When we give in, were making the age-old mistake of confusing food with love.
The most common nutritional disorder affecting pets today is obesity, says Lisa M. Freeman, D.V.M., Ph.D.more than 40 percent of U.S. dogs are overweight. Obese dogs are prone to more heart, lung and bone problems, something especially dangerous for Basset Hounds. Dogs are in peak condition when they are thin. We humans have been conditioned to confuse thinness with malnourishment and we often don't see fat for what it is.
To determine if your Basset Hound is overweight, check its ribs. You should not be able to see them, but you should be able to feel them when you run your thumbs along its ribcage. If you stand over the dog and look down, it should have a definite hourglass shape. Extremely fat dogs have fatty deposits at the base of the tail, shoulders and chest.
Each Basset is an individual, in terms of its nutritional needs. Many are easy keepers that gain weight on an amount of food that a hard keeper would lose weight on. The only guide is trial and error. If you notice your Basset getting too fat, cut back on the amount of food. Obviously, a young, highly active Basset needs more to eat than a couch potato. Most Bassets will eat all they can get, however, and such dogs should not be free fed (food always available). Its best to divide your dogs daily ration into two or three small meals a day. In addition, if you own more than one dog, its impossible to monitor each dogs food intake if you free feed them.
Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus) is one of the most serious of all medical emergencies, and barrel-chested Basset Hounds are particularly prone to it. In this condition, the stomach swells with trapped gases, then twists (torsion). Bloat is fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately. According to Jerold Bell, D.V.M., clinical assistant professor and director of the clinical veterinary genetics course at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, even with care, approximately 30 percent of bloat patients die or have to be euthanized.
Signs of bloat include a bloated, drumlike abdomen, repeated and unproductive attempts to vomit, whining, and restlessness. Excitable dogs, nervous dogs, older dogs, males and thin dogs are most prone to the condition. Although the causes of bloat are not completely understood, scientists have found a strong link to diet and eating habits. Fast eating and gulping air while eating may also be factors. The preservative citric acid, found in some dry foods, has also been implicated as a possible cause.
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