A new puppy is a source of joy, but it also entails responsibility. The owner of the puppy must care for the animal, ensuring it is exercised, warm and well fed. Feeding a puppy correctly is important for its physical development and health in later life. Because a puppy will keep eating even after it is full, overfeeding is a risk. There are several possible consequences of overfeeding.
The primary and most immediately obvious problem of overfeeding your puppy is obesity. While difficult to define exactly, an obese puppy is one around 20 percent heavier than its ideal body weight. Obesity can cause a number of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.
A particular problem resulting from obesity in puppies is the development of skeletal problems. Because the puppy's body is growing rapidly, it needs the correct nutrition to avoid putting too much stress on its nascent physiology. Carrying too much weight can put stress on the bones and lead to complaints such as osteochondrosis, a defective bone formation, or hip dysplasia, when the ball of the femur bone does not fit properly into the hip joint, which can affect the dog throughout its life.
Bloat -- technically known as gastric dilation volvulus -- can occur in dogs at any age. There are a number of potential causes, including eating from an elevated position, stress at mealtimes and overeating. Feeding your puppy one very large meal per day, rather than several smaller ones, can trigger it. The puppy's stomach becomes distended with gas and can, if untreated, cause the stomach to become twisted.
A puppy will eat whatever food is put in front of it. Therefore, the owner must regulate the puppy’s meals. Young puppies should be given between three and four small meals a day, with the number of meals reduced and their content increased as the dog ages. At around six months, depending on the breed, the puppy should receive two meals a day. Avoid giving puppies scraps from the table. It can cause them to put on weight and their digestive systems are unable to handle it, sometimes leading to diarrhoea. Make sure your puppy gets sufficient exercise. If you are concerned about your puppy's weight, consult your vet.
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