While the standard for the breed says Pekingese are not to be considered delicate or dainty dogs, they nonetheless are subject to gastrointestinal upset if they are not fed properly. These little lap dogs require a high-quality diet divided into small meals, because their stomachs are small. Pekingese are not highly active by nature, so pet parents must be aware of the threat of obesity. Extra weight can contribute to serious back problems for these cute dogs.
Pekingese dogs generally weigh between 8 and 10 pounds as adults, making their food needs comparatively small. Dogs the size of Pekingese should consume between 296 and 404 calories per day, according to The National Research Council of the National Academies. The actual amount your Peke should consume will depend on the dog's activity level. Pekingese descend from a long ancestral line of royal lap dogs, so they tend to be sedentary. Pekingese should be encouraged to exercise, but if your Peke is a couch potato, it is essential to adjust their daily calorie intake accordingly. It is important that your little pet stay slender to stave off intervertebral disc disease, a serious degenerative spinal condition that can affect Pekingese. Obesity makes your Peke more susceptible to this problem, which can cause paralysis.
Commercial dog foods can provide the nutrients your Pekingese needs. Fed as dry kibble, such foods also can help to keep your pet's teeth free of plaque and tartar. The Pekingese is brachycephalic, meaning the breed has a flattened face. This not only makes the Pekingese susceptible to the usual breathing and overheating problems of dogs with shortened faces, but it also crowds the dog's teeth, making the Pekingese prone to periodontal disease. When the dog chews dry kibble, the texture assists in scraping plaque and food particles off of hard-to-reach areas of the teeth. Kibble also works well with this breed because it doesn't get caught in the long, silky hair of the face. If you mix a spoonful of canned dog food with the kibble, be sure the total meal doesn't exceed the dog's caloric needs. Remember to clean your Peke's face after a meal that includes canned food.
A healthy, high-quality commercial food for your Pekingese should be labeled to specify that it meets the nutritional needs of a dog as established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials or that it has been tested according to AAFCO protocols to provide "complete and balanced" nutrition for a dog, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The food you select should contain as the first listed ingredient a meat-based protein source such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish or lamb. Other ingredients necessary to maintain your little dog's health include animal and vegetable fats for energy and a shiny coat, and fruits and vegetables to provide fiber. At least the first ingredient listed on the package should be a whole meat or meat meal, not meat by-products, which are harder for your dog to digest and can cause gas. If fish and vegetable oils are not already in the food, you may wish to consider adding them as a supplement to help keep your Peke's coat in good condition. Consult your veterinarian before adding supplements to your dog's ration.
Brachycephalic breeds tend to swallow more air than normal dogs when they eat. Because of that, Pekes may develop gastrointestinal upset and flatulence. This condition can be worsened when you feed your Peke ingredients such as corn, wheat, fillers and ash. Chemical preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene and ethoxyquin also can contribute to gastrointestinal distress, and should be avoided in favor of natural preservatives such as vitamins E and C. Dog foods that contain probiotics such as lactic acid bacteria may help ease digestion problems.
Instead of giving your Pekingese high-calorie treats that can cause weight problems, opt for healthy fruits and vegetables like apples, green beans, sweet potato or pumpkin in moderation, recommends "Modern Dog" magazine. You also can mix these ingredients into your overweight dog's food, substituting them for a portion of the ration. Consult your veterinarian before making such substitutions, however. A diet dog food contains extra fiber and 15 percent fewer calories per pound, letting your dog feel full with fewer calories.