Nutritional Pet Food
Dog/Cat Feeding Guide
Pet Health Guide
Dog Nutrition & Health
Low Appetite Dogs
Weaning Puppies (with puppy feeding guide)
Dog Weight and Condition
Feeding Bitches During Pregnancy
Cat Nutrition & Health
General Pet Nutrition & Health
Nutritional Pet Food / Pet Health Guide / Dog Nutrition & Health / Dog Weight and Condition
Feeding for Optimal Dog Weight & Condition
We have many enquiries from customers seeking advice regarding the best way to improve the general health of their dogs and the best way to gain optimal weight and condition.
There are many possible reasons for loss of weight and condition, and sometimes a combination of factors may be responsible. First and foremost, it is important to identify the cause / s and if necessary seek veterinary advice should a medical complaint be suspected. Any dramatic weight loss should always be investigated as a matter of urgency since it may be a sign of illness.
Knowing the accurate healthy weight of your dog can help you to identify any future health problems and therefore we recommend weighing your dog regularly and keeping a record.
There are numerous different reasons for loss of weight and condition, and far too many to list each individually here, but some common causative factors include : -
Any medical or behavioural problem manifesting in long-term inappetance will result in weight loss since energy expenditure will exceed the calorie intake. Please consult your vet and request our ‘Inappetance’ fact sheet if your dog is reluctant to eat. Arden Grange Prestige may be a good choice of diet for the fussy eater because it is a highly concentrated feed. It also contains a very high percentage of fresh chicken meat for maximum palatability.
Adverse Food Reactions
Many dogs suffer from food allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients. This frequently results in loss of condition, and ultimately body weight since the dog’s metabolism finds it difficult (and in severe cases, impossible) to utilise the ingredient /s to which he is sensitive. Elimination of the reaction provoking ingredients and replacing them with easily digestible substitutes that your dog is able to efficiently metabolise is the solution. This is a complex subject, and our ‘Adverse Dietary Reactions’ fact sheet offers further advice. Arden Grange Adult Lamb & Rice and Salmon & Rice varieties offer alternative primary protein sources, and may often be suitable for dogs suffering from adverse food reactions.
Metabolic stress may be caused by illness, surgery, physical injury, malnourishment, strenuous exercise, extreme environmental / climatic changes, pregnancy and lactation (particularly in bitches with large litters), chronic fear, hyperactivity and other behavioural problems. In cases of metabolic stress, more calories are expended than usual in order to maintain the correct body temperature and to ensure that all the bodily functions continue to perform in spite of the extenuating circumstances. A concentrated feed such as Arden Grange Prestige is an excellent diet for animals recuperating from a debilitating illness or surgery, or during late pregnancy and lactation.
Your vet must always be consulted if you suspect digestive disease. Your dog will usually suffer additional symptoms alongside his loss of weight and condition. These may include a dull and depressed demeanour, vomiting and / or chronic diarrhoea. Digestive diseases include malabsorption and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Arden Grange diets have been successfully fed to many dogs with digestive ailments under veterinary supervision.
Intestinal worms are a common cause of loss of weight and condition, and regular worming is important especially in pregnant bitches, puppies and any dog with a compromised immune system. External parasites (e.g. fleas and mites) may also contribute to an overall loss of condition since the body will be busy with its defences and thus having to work harder than usual.
Bacterial and viral infections are probably the most common cause of loss of weight and condition in our pet dogs, since they frequently manifest in vomiting and / or diarrhoea, which has the effect of altering the body’s electrolyte balance. The immune system needs to work hard to combat the infection, and very often, antibacterial therapy can leave the beneficial intestinal flora suppressed. The prebiotics included in the Arden Grange recipes may help to promote the growth of the friendly bacteria and limit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. The nucleotides may have a positive effect on the immune system and may help to facilitate a more rapid cell response to an outside challenge.
Despite the extensive list of possible causes, very often a dog owner is unable to attribute a specific reason for loss of weight and condition. It is frequently the case that the dog is not ‘unwell’ nor is he suffering from any medical symptoms, but simply does not look 100%. This is especially common in youngsters, especially those that are very energetic and burning off calories as fast as their owners can feed them! Very active adult dogs may do well on the Arden Grange Performance, since it contains extra antioxidants (green tea extract, grapeseed extract and quercitin). It also contains added taurine which may benefit the cardiac muscle, and L-Carnitine which may help to improve energy and endurance.
Having weighed your dog (accurately) and established the most likely causative factor / s and consulted the vet or behaviourist for the necessary medication or therapy, the next step is to review your dog’s nutrition. The necessary changes to the routine can then be implemented gradually.
Please feel free to contact Arden Grange for help in selecting an appropriate diet and for feeding quantities. We are always happy to offer advice on any aspect of your dog’s nutrition.
Make sure you feed your dog the correct daily allowance for his or her weight. You will be surprised at the amount of owners who estimate their dog’s weight, and also estimate the amount to feed. The scope for error is therefore very large, and can result in over or under-feeding by a significant quantity. The best method is to weigh your dog’s meals using kitchen scales. We also have measuring cups available free of charge upon request. Do not make any drastic changes to the feeding quantity – changes should always be implemented gradually. If your dog has always been used to a larger portion of food, then he will almost certainly end up feeling most put out if his allowance is dramatically reduced. Likewise, a dog who has been used to very small portions, will feel overly full and even be at risk from bloat, or at the very least, loose motions if the meal volume is increased suddenly.
Feed a diet that is suitable for the age and activity level of your dog. Puppies should be gradually changed over onto an adult formulation once their upward skeletal development is complete (i.e. when the pup has reached his optimum height). Even though the pup may continue to ‘grow into’ his adult shape over a longer period, the requirement for a growth diet generally ends once his adult height is achieved. Growth diets have a higher calorie density and increased levels of protein, calcium and phosphorous thus providing surplus nutrients if the dog is fed a growth diet beyond his natural growth span. In any dog, but particularly youngsters, surplus calories are not always laid down as fat. Many dogs will simply burn them off as extra energy, and this is often mistaken for ‘hyperactivity’. Other dogs may simply pass the excess food through the digestive tract in faeces. This may result in increased frequency of passing motions, increased stool volume and diarrhoea.
Ensure that quality ingredients are fed, and that these are easily digestible and efficiently metabolised. Proteins, for example, should be of a high biological value – which means that they are easily broken down into the essential amino acids necessary for all the structural and metabolic functions within the body. Arden Grange use fresh chicken, fresh salmon, Grade A chicken meal, lamb meal and fish meal in the recipes because they are all excellent protein sources. The primary fat source is human grade pure chicken oil, which again has been chosen for its digestibility and the ease with which the body can break down the fats into the essential fatty acids necessary for energy, insulation and the transport of the fat soluble vitamins. Chicken oil is the highest quality fat source available for the dog.
Avoid the ingredients commonly associated with adverse dietary reactions (wheat gluten, soya, dairy products and beef). Arden Grange pet foods are all hypoallergenic and free from the items listed above which frequently provoke food allergies and dietary sensitivities. If the body is busy excreting ingredients it finds difficult to digest, it stands to reason that the overall efficiency of the metabolism will be compromised.
Avoid artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives . Treats and chews are the primary culprits, and many are laden with artificial additives to make them highly palatable. Many animals are very sensitive to such additives and they may cause a range of symptoms varying from gastric and skin disorders to behavioural disturbances. Arden Grange pet foods are preserved naturally with mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) and rosemary. Palatability is enhanced by the use of top quality raw ingredients, fresh chicken / salmon and a tasty coating of natural juices (with no added salt or sugar).
Encourage your dog to lead an active lifestyle with the minimum of stress. This is important for all dogs, but particularly so for growing youngsters. Puppies and young dogs (just like babies and children) need periods during the day when they are able to have stress-free rest and sleep, in order to keep in good condition and make steady growth. Not being able to get away from other dogs or children can be a major cause of lack of condition, poor growth or loose bowel action from continued excited activity. Some dogs are naturally highly-strung or exuberant and it is especially difficult in such animals to keep weight on them, as they are burning off calories as fast as we can supply them. These dogs will obtain particular benefits from the frequent feeding of small regular meals in order to try to stabilise blood sugar levels, with the aim of avoiding energy peaks and troughs. Such dogs may also benefit from the antioxidants in the Arden Grange diets, since these may help to combat the potentially harmful effects of free radicals (stressed or very active dogs are more at risk).
Feed small, frequent meals. Not only will this be helpful in stabilising energy levels, a small meal is more easily digested, absorbed and metabolised. This means that your dog will glean the maximum benefit from the nutrients in his food.
Don’t be tempted to try to bulk up your dog with a dramatically bigger daily food allowance. The metabolism of many dogs is such that they will simply burn off the extra calories or pass them in faeces. Over-feeding can be just as detrimental as under-feeding and may result in diarrhoea. A classic sign of over-feeding is when a dog passes normal faeces the first time he empties his bowels, with them becoming progressively looser throughout the day. Any increase to the daily allowance should be introduced gradually in order to allow the stomach to expand and accept a higher volume of food. Stool quality should be closely monitored for at least 3 days, and if motions remain firm, a further gradual increase may be implemented.
Remember that building up a dog to peak health and condition can be time consuming. It is important to build up stamina and muscle tone as well as to increase the overall body weight. Controlled exercise is crucial, and lead exercise and swimming are preferable to free-running during the build-up period.
Closely monitor your dog’s weight, appetite, general demeanour and stools. Weighing should be undertaken weekly in order to make any necessary gradual adjustments to the feeding volume, whilst stool production should be assessed daily.