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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #26
February 12, 2012
How big is too big?
The holidays have come and gone. The fruitcake was eaten, the champagne was sipped and many hors d'oeuvres were consumed. If you were like me, you may have made the annual pledge to lose the extra 10 (or so) pounds for after the New Year. Imagine to my surprise that at my most recent vet visit I was told that my Bella was overweight as well. Looks like we both overindulged during the holiday season! In fact, I recently heard a report on CNN that 50% of pets are overweight. A pound or two extra doesn't sound like a lot (I wish it were just that for us humans) but for dogs it can mean many medical complications. Dogs who are overweight can have issues with diabetes, arthritis, cancer and much more. It turns out, that many of my visiting relatives had given extras to all my Jacks, especially Bella who is a seasoned beggar. That coupled with less time for walks led to the weight gain.
So how can you tell if your Jack is a little pudgy? If you touch your Jack's backbone and rib cage, you should be able be able to feel the bones without having to press. Also, you should see a noticeable "waist" between the back of the rib cage and the hips when looking at your pet from above. Viewed from the side, there should be a "tuck" in the tummy—the abdomen should go up from the bottom of the rib cage to inside the thighs. If your Jack doesn't pass this test, it may be time to talk to your vet and see if there could be any medical reasons for the gain like hypothyroidism. It's always important to talk with your vet before you start any change in diet. Your vet can help you come up with an adequate amount of calories and how to divide that during the day. Overweight animals take in more calories than they require. Work with your veterinarian to determine your pet’s caloric requirements, select a suitable food and calculate how much to feed. The diet should contain a normal level of a moderately fermentable fiber and the type of fat that prevents the skin and coat from deteriorating during weight loss.
Regardless of whether your Jack needs to lose weight or not, there are definitely ways to make him/her healthier and eat calories that are beneficial. Biscuits and high value treats are motivating and should definitely be used but they add in extra calories pretty quickly. For a day to day reward try baby carrots, frozen green beens, peeled cucumbers and chopped celery. They add lots of crunch, nutrients and most in important dogs usually love them. Guess what, Dogs can also have fruit. Apples (no seeds), blueberries, watermelon chunks, the list is endless. Making yourself a smoothie? Your Jack can share in the fun. Put some of the smoothie straight into his bowl or if you want to score some extra point with your Jack pour some into an ice cube tray, freeze and then give it to him/her on a hot summer day. Be careful, foods that dogs should not eat include raisins, macadamia nuts, grapes and onions.
As with any health kick, diet is not enough. Exercise is the key to gaining muscle and strength. So what are you waiting for! Get that leash on and take your Jack on a nice long walk. You just might reap the benefits as well :-)
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'Til Next Time...
Take care - and take care of your JRT!
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