The Hard Keeper – Tips On Handling
While more often than not I am commenting to dog owners that their pet is obese, there is a definite need for any information on getting weight up on a dog.
A hard keeper is exactly that: a dog that does not hold weight easily due to stress or hard work or high drive or whatever. I have already discussed the choices to be made regarding the right dog food and the dangers of feeding a dog such as this a low calorie food. Now I am going to explain in more detail how to get the job done of putting weight back onto your working dog.
The first thing to do is examine your dog food’s ME, or metabolizable energy. If your food has less than 3900 kcal/kg, change foods to a high energy food, with at least 3900-4500 kcal/kg and around 450-550 kcal/cup. If you need to call the manufacturer for this information, then do so. They are required to disclose the kcal data to the consumer.
Now that you hopefully have a decent quality high calorie food, you need to determine how much to feed the dog daily. Please do yourself a favor and use a measuring cup. Here is the rule: you increase the daily food intake slowly until your dog starts to get loose stools. Loose stools is a sign that you are overfeeding the dog. Then, you cut back until you get a firm stool. I know, this sounds goofy, but it’s the only way to know if you are feeding enough. There is no reliable weight-to-food gauge that I know of. I have seen eighty pound dogs absorb four cups and some that cannot. It is a matter of the individual dog’s metabolism.
If the dog lives primarily outside, this may take up to eight or ten weeks for you to see significant increase in the dog’s body weight. In extreme cases where the dog is simply moving around too much for the food to convert into fat and muscle tissue, you may need to crate the dog during this time period. I have seen dogs who cannot gain weight while in the kennel environment, who, when crated in the house for around a month or two, have gained close to five pounds, which is significant for a dog.
Remember, every dog is different, with different metabolisms and nutritional needs. Work with their diet and you will get them to an ideal weight.