As a new year rolls around the most popular resolution to make is for people to lose weight. Who couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds? I know I can! A lot of people resort to the old “36/24/36” (as outdated as it may seem) measure for the ideal figure of a woman. As it turns out; this general hour glass shape is about right for our dogs as well! When viewing your dog from the top, looking down over them towards the ground they should exhibit at least a slight hourglass figure. The body should show nice muscle tone and acceptable width for your dog’s breed standard as the shoulders and rib cage. Past that the dog’s body should narrow somewhat as it passes the 13th rib. As you approach the dog’s hips his/her body should widen back out somewhat. Similarly, if you look at your pup from the side you should see at least a slight rise (the appropriate height of which varies from breed to breed and animal to animal) as you look past the last ribs.
Furthermore, if you have a short coated hunting buddy you should only be able to just slightly see rib indentations in his sides when he/she is standing at rest. With any dog you should be able to EASILY palpitate the ribs when inspecting your dog by hand. When your pet is running or exerting energy it is far more likely and acceptable to be able to visually notice the ribs.
I know a lot of you are thinking, “my dog is in shape, he’s rectangle, or watermelon, etc, etc. shaped!” Think for a minute how you feel after a long day’s hunt. Now imagine your four legged valet to finding every one of those birds you took today. He/she had to run what is most likely a factor of 10 to 15 times further than you walked. Every extra pound they carry makes their work that much harder. “Sure, but a couple extra pounds never hurt anyone” you might say. Keep in mind, dogs are far smaller creatures than we are. Five pounds to a 50lb hunting dog is 10 percent of his body weight. That’s 20lbs to your average 200lb human.
There are many good ways to help your pet lose and/or keep this extra weight off. It all starts with using a high quality dog food that provides all the necessary calories and nutrients in appropriate amounts for your pet. Monitor your dog’s intake and increase or decrease it as necessary to maintain body weight during varying levels of activity. Speaking of varying levels of activity; a well planned and executed training and endurance program is also a vital step in keeping your hunting partner ready and able to hunt for as long as possible!