Q: Does my puppy weigh too much?
What’s the harm in a tubby puppy? Can’t I make him lose weight, if necessary, when he grows up?
That adorable-but-overweight pup could grow up with bone and joint diseases —the result of carrying too much weight in the first few months — and/or could be growing fat cells that haunt him for the rest of his obese life.
Large breed dogs that are subject to joint diseases, such as hip dysplasia, want to go through puppyhood as light as possible. Scientific studies — including some by dog food companies that profit from selling lots of chow — have shown that relationship. Most manufacturers’ recommendations now reflect the wisdom to keep large-breed puppies lean and healthy through critical growth periods. Still, too many owners read the label and think: “My pup deserves more than this. And some extra treats for good behavior.”
Even small-bred dogs that are less subject to joint diseases are building an unnecessary horde of fat cells thanks to overly generous humans. (“That’s not baby fat, just a little juvenile adipocyte hyperplasia.”) Regular veterinary visits will help monitor appropriate growth and feeding. Be prepared to cut back — even as much as 25 percent — on the food maker’s recommendations — if the pup is too big for his age.
Early obesity can shorten life expectancy. Save the calorie-laden treats for training only.
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