How to Determine a Dachshund's Ideal Body Weight

How to Determine a Dachshund's Ideal Body Weight

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Dachshunds have a small frame that make them more susceptible to certain health problems due to obesity. Learn about their ideal body weight here.

Dachshunds are small, friendly dogs with long bodies carried low to the ground. They are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. Originated in Germany to hunt badgers, and built to follow their prey through underground tunnels, both miniature and standard Dachshunds have elongated, muscular bodies. Their long bodies make Dachshunds prone to serious back problems, and excess weight greatly increases the likelihood of such problems. It is important to determine and maintain your Dachshund's ideal weight.

Healthy Weight

The judicious eye of the Dachshund's owner is needed to determine the ideal body weight of a Dachshund, and the correct quantity of a nutritious diet, plus regular exercise, are needed to maintain it. The breed standard, which can serve as a starting point, says the ideal body weight of a miniature Dachshund is 11 pounds or less, while standard Dachshunds will weigh from 16 to 32 pounds, depending on their body height and length.

The Dachshund’s body should be lean and muscular with a pronounced arch behind the ribs, leading to the hindquarters. The Dachshund’s chest bone should visibly protrude, with a dimple on each side. If you notice that the fat around the chest covers the breastbone, or that the dog displays a rounded waistline that does not arch upward at the abdomen, your Dachshund is overweight. This holds true for both miniature and standard Dachshunds. At the ideal weight, you should be able to feel the ribs without probing through fat.

Daily Meals

Dachshund puppies should eat up to four times daily. Moist food is best for puppies, especially when they are first weaned. Dachshund puppies can start eating dry kibble after about 3 months of age and cut down to three meals per day. One ounce of food for each pound of body weight helps Dachshund puppies stay at a healthy weight, according to the Dachshund Club of America Handbook. When Dachshunds reach about 6 months old, they should get two meals per day.

Free Feeding

Free-feeding allows Dachshunds to eat as desired from a full bowl of food throughout the day. This is generally not the best method for maintaining an ideal weight. If you use the self-feeding method, it is important to watch your Dachshund's body shape and weight to guard against obesity. Many Dachshunds raised with the self-feeding method will not overindulge, according to the Dachshund Club of America, but some dogs are not able to adjust to this method and will become overweight.

Portion Feeding

Portion feeding divides your Dachshund's ration into two or more measured portions per day. Commercially prepared dog foods include daily ration recommendations on the bag, based on the calories per cup of the food; these tables are generalized and may not be accurate for your dog's needs. Caloric needs vary, depending on the Dachshund’s activity level, age and health. For this reason, it is important to consider whether your Dachshund is tending to gain or lose weight. Always measure your dog's food. Make small adjustments to measurements as needed to keep your Dachshund at an ideal weight.

Weight Adjustments

If your Dachshund is overweight, reducing the daily calorie intake by 20 percent is sufficient for weight loss. Consult a veterinarian when your Dachshund is overweight and needs to slim down, or if your Dachshund has trouble gaining weight.

If your Dachshund loses weight on the recommended daily ration, have your dog checked by your veterinarian. Intestinal parasites can cause weight loss, as can a variety of other health issues.

3 Steps to Healthy Dog Weight Loss 

Losing Weight the Right Way

Overweight dogs are becoming more common now than ever before. Most of the time it tends to sneak up on pet parents. If your dog is a bit overweight and needs to shed a few pounds, it's important to go about it in a healthy way.

In order for dogs to live long, comfortable lives, maintaining healthy weight is key. Overweight dogs are prone to a number of disorders, including joint injuriesosteoarthritis, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, diabetesheart disease, and even some cancers.

And though pet obesity is a largely preventable medical condition, overweight dogs are on the rise. A survey of veterinarians by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. So how should you go about dog weight loss if your dog is one of these?

How to Assess if Your Dog is Overweight

Many dogs gain weight gradually, so pet owners who see their dog on a daily basis may not notice a pet’s extra bulk. Examining a dog’s physique is one way to determine weight gain without breaking out the scale.

  • Feel around the sides of your dog’s body and pinch the skin. A layer of skin and muscle between the ribs is normal, but pet owners should be able to feel rib bones underneath.
  • Examine your dog’s profile from the side. Overweight dogs may have a low-hanging belly rather than a natural curve in the abdomen.
  • From above, a defined waistline should be visible along the torso. A bulging waistline indicates that a dog is overweight.

Simple Steps for Dog Weight Loss

Depending on a dog’s breed, medical history, age, and size, the steps to healthy weight loss will vary. Follow these steps to ensure all weight loss measures are effective and not harmful.

1. Set Up a Weight Loss Regimen for Your Dog

Meet with your vet to determine the weight loss plan that will work best for your dog. After performing a check up, your veterinarian can rule out any medical conditions that may be responsible for weight gain.

If your pet is overweight from inactivity and overeating, then a diet and exercise plan will help them get back on track to a healthy weight. The plan may include:

  • Setting weight loss goals and benchmarks.
  • Doing frequent weigh-ins to track your pet’s progress.
  • Determining a nutrition, calorie, and meal plan.
  • Recommending an exercise routine.

2. Monitor Food and Calorie Consumption for Weight Loss

Once your vet has determined what caloric intake is ideal for your dog, make sure to follow strict portion control. Measure out food portions and set up specific meal times. Avoid letting your dog graze from a full bowl all day, and discontinue use of self feeders. If you have multiple dogs, be sure each pet eats the amount of food set out for them. You may decide to feed pets in different rooms to make this easier.

Portion control will ensure pets are not overeating, but you can make sure calories aren’t being over-consumed in other ways:

  • Reduce or Eliminate Treats: Like any diet, frequent snacks should be the first thing eliminated. Overweight dogs should avoid regular treats. For special occasions or training, buy low calorie treats or try natural foods that are low in additives and preservatives, like carrot sticks.
  • Cut Out Table Food: It may be harder to keep a diet on track with table food or scraps in the mix. Stick to measured meals and treats, and keep a watchful eye on dogs that have a tendency to eat unattended food.
  • Avoid Fatty Chews: Some chew toys can pack on unintended pounds. Try switching out chews that are high in fat, like pig’s ears, to leaner, more protein-rich chews.

3. Exercise and Dog Weight Loss

Increased exercise is not only a great weight loss solution — it will also benefit a dog’s overall health and well-being. Always check with your vet to make sure that the exercise regimen you have in mind will work for your dog’s age and current health condition.

Try these exercise tips to mix things up and increase your pet’s step count.

  • One simple way to increase your pet’s activity is to take longer walks.
  • Frequent games of catch at the park or a dog run is an enjoyable way to get the heart pumping.
  • Getting in play time with toys at home daily will also increase movement in general. If old toys aren’t cutting it at play time, try switching them up for variety.
  • If your dog is able to climb stairs, try moving food or water upstairs or downstairs so that your pet burns off a few extra calories.

Be sure that your dog has access to plenty of water during a weight loss regimen, especially after walking, playing, and exercise.

Maintaining Your Dog’s Healthy Weight

Once your pet has achieved optimal weight, talk to your vet about the best nutrition and exercise plan to maintain it. As your dog ages, you may need to adjust exercise and caloric intake. Schedule regular checkups, and be on the lookout for signs of weight gain. Your dog will be grateful for it in the end!

More on Weight Loss

Recognizing if Your Dog is Overweight
Grain Free Dog Food: Cut Down on Carbs
Getting Your Dog or Cat to Lose Weight

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

More on Dog Nutrition

How To Change Dog Food
Getting Your Dog Or Cat To Lose Weight
For The Dog Picky Eater

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