Feeding The Fat-Prone Bulldog

Feed your Bulldog for good health and to prevent obesity.

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Is Your Bulldog Really Fat?
Some breeds can pack on the pounds easier than others, and unfortunately, Bulldogs tend to be fat. Unless there is an underlying disease (and there usually isn't), obesity is the result of too much food and not enough exercise. Bulldogs are one of the breeds predisposed to obesity, says Jeff Werber, D.V.M., of Century Veterinary Clinic in Los Angeles, California, and a television veterinary journalist. The way Bulldogs are built, their propensity to overheat, and their breathing difficulties add up to a dog that may not be able to perform the amount of exercise needed to maintain a proper weight, he says.

It doesn't take a complicated formula to figure out if your dog is weighty: Pat your dog on its side. Ideally, you should just be able to feel its ribs. Your dog is too thin if you can actually see its ribs and too fat if you have difficulty feeling (or finding) its ribs. Heres another test: Stand above the dog and look down, Dr. Werber says. You should be able to see that little, cute waist a slim Bulldog has. If the dog starts looking like a square box where you can't see an indentation around the waist and in front of the hips, chances are its overweight.

With a puppy, the time to begin weight control is now. Notes Dr. Werber, Ninety percent of obese puppies grow up to be obese dogs. Its a lot harder to lose the weight than it is to prevent your dog from putting it on. The key is starting when they are young.

Many well-intentioned owners go astray when the puppy moves into adulthood and its energy requirements begin to decline. Rapid growth takes place in puppies from about 8 to 20 weeks of age, Dr. Werber explains. A dog in that phase might need one and a half to two times more food than an adult dog at that same weight. Any breed stops rapid growth by 20 weeks of age, although it may still grow in height. Bulldogs grow until about 9 or 10 months of age, then they start filling out.

When rapid growth ceases at 20 weeks of age, gradually start decreasing or maintaining the same food amounts. People often aren't aware of this change in energy requirements, Dr. Werber explains. The dog stops the rapid growth stage, but the owner doesn't make the necessary adjustment, then the dog starts to gain weight. When the dog hits 5 or 6 months of age, even though its body is getting bigger, you should stop increasing food amounts. As the dog grows even older, cut back a little.

Its also a good idea to begin an exercise program for your Bulldog once its reached young adulthood and its bones and joints are fairly well-developed, says Dr. Werber. This usually occurs around 10 to 14 months of age, depending on the individuals frame; consult with your veterinarian to be sure. Once a dog has gained the weight, its a lot more of a strain to exercise because the dog more easily overheats because of the excess weight. Make exercise a normal part of your dogs routine when its young, Dr. Werber urges.

Still, all is not lost if you have an adult dog that's crossed over into overweight status. You can still make real gains in weight loss. Its generally a matter of feeding the correct proportions of a chosen diet and resisting the urge to indulge a hungry pet.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

4/8/2012 8:04:00 AM

good article, thanks

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