Is My Dachsie Fat?
Most likely, the answer to this question is “Yes.” As many as one in every four dachshunds could stand to shed some weight. If you have a shorthaired dachshund, the easiest way to tell if she is overweight is by looking down at her from above. A dog in good shape has a slight hourglass shape, curving in at the loin after the ribs and back out slightly at the hips.
If you own a wirehaired or longhaired dachshund with a substantial coat, you will need to feel her. Placing your hands on her rib cage, lightly press your fingers into her sides. What do you feel? It shouldn't take much effort to be able to find a few ribs. If you have to press harder, it's a good bet that your dachshund is too fat for her frame. If you suspect that your dachshund might be heavy, take her to the veterinarian's office for a quick exam.
The Weight Loss Team
Once you know your dachshund is overweight, find out from your veterinarian exactly how overweight he is, and develop a plan of attack together. Your veterinarian will want to see a slow, gradual weight loss, which generally consists of increased exercise and decreased caloric intake.
Be very honest about the amounts you've been feeding your dachshund, including any snacks, treats, and other possible source of food. You don't want to reduce your dachshund's intake drastically (as might happen if you don't fess up to everything he is really eating) because it will have a negative impact on his weight loss.
Many veterinarians are reluctant to tell their clients that their dogs are too heavy. In fact, one survey indicated that veterinarians don't discuss obesity because they are concerned they will lose patients. Research shows that their concerns are valid.
While working to decrease your dachshund's weight, weigh your dachshund monthly to keep track of his progress. If your scale is not accurate enough to record ounces lost, consider going to your veterinarian's office and using the scale there. If you are diligent and careful, you can help your dachshund return to a healthy weight and stay there.
Four Opportunities for Weight Gain
To prevent overfeeding, be mindful of the fact that when your dog reaches full size (at twelve months or sooner), she will not be burning off as many calories as before. This is when the first opportunity for weight gain appears. By this time, all dachshunds should be on an adult maintenance diet.
After your dog is spayed or neutered, his metabolism rate, caloric needs, and activity level may change significantly. Altering does not cause obesity, but it can influence factors that will encourage weight gain if food portions are not adjusted.
The second opportunity for weight gain is when the dachshund hits two to three years old and begins to settle into a more mature, calmer state. Less activity equals fewer calories burned. If you continue to feed your dachsie the same amount of adult food as you used to, she will begin to pack on the pounds. Remember, one extra pound on a five-pound miniature dachshund is a 20-percent weight gain! That's a lot!
A third opportunity for weight gain is when the owner becomes less active. Though your dachshund would never dream of blaming her obesity issues on you, this is often where the crux of the matter lies. Get back off the couch, and start walking your dog! It will be a health benefit to both of you.
There's a fourth opportunity: your family members. Are they sneaking your dachshund people food, dropping morsels from the table, or rewarding her with too many biscuits? The dachshund doesn't require much food. A 22-pound adult dachshund may only eat a cup of food a day, divided into two half-cup servings. The snacks your family is feeding the dog may equal her daily recommended caloric intake.