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Diet - Weight

Overweight Pomeranians

Pomeranian Diets And Weight Issues

Weight is a concern for many dog owners, especially those of toy breed dogs such as the Pomeranian. This breed is not prone to becoming overweight but with his tiny frame, extra pounds can cause quite a few issues. Toy breed dogs show weight gain very easily due to their standard size. Even a 1 pound (.45 kg) gain can make a dramatic difference on a toy breed dog as opposed to a Husky that could gain a pound and no one would notice.

It will be the older adult and senior Pomeranians (8 years and older) that will most often have weight issues severe enough to warrant a diet. However, it is not uncommon for a Pom with certain health issues to gain weight due to being less active or to be ordered to lose a bit of weight to help with an existing medical condition.

Some examples of reasons to lose weight (even just a pound) as part of a treatment program are for:
  • Collapsed trachea - When the rings around the windpipe are damaged veterinarians look to see if the dog can lose even just a bit of weight any amount will put less stress on the trachea and improve breathing.
  • Canine diabetes - Most often seen in aging dogs, an older Pomeranian may need to diet off 1 or 2 pounds to help the body better control blood sugar levels.
  • Hip dysplasia - This is a slippage or weakened hip joint and socket. Excess weight - and again it does not need to be much - puts stress on an already sensitive joint. 
How to Know if Your Pom Needs to Diet

Since this breed can have such a thick, full coat it is often difficult for owners to notice any problems in this regard.

Do keep in mind that this section is mainly discussing adult Pomeranian dogs. Puppies are supposed to be round and carry puppy fat. The extra fat as insulation to help keep them warm and as an extra fuel reserve.

Unless there are medical conditions that are at play, there is no need to be concerned about dieting until the adult years.

During your once-a-year vet visits for healthy checkups, your Pom's veterinarian will alert you if there has been a weight gain that is significant enough to be a cause for concern.

At home, you can make an assessment to see if your dog is carrying too many pounds by taking a good look at him once he is soaked down during bath time. Ribs should be just barely visible. If the are sticking out, this is a sign of malnutrition and being underweight. If they can not be seen and also can not be felt at all, this is a sign of being too heavy.

The Effects of a Dog Being Overweight

Just as with humans, dogs will suffer the consequences of being overweight. This can cause many canine health issues including:
  • Stress on the joints of the dog
  • Limited mobility for the dog to exercise/ interact with family
  • Canine Diabetes - Which is a chronic serious health issue
  • Strain on the dog's heart...and more
Pomeranian in a basket
If your Pom will not remain on a scale, put a basket on the scale and weigh it. Then, put your Pom inside the basket. Take the weight you see, minus the weight of the scale and you will know how much your Pomeranian weighs.
Medical or Eating Issue?

All adult dogs that appear overweight must be checked out by a veterinarian to first rule out a medical issue that may causing the problem. Some conditions that can cause weight gain include:
  • Ascites - A condition in which the body retains too much fluid. The most common sign is a very extended belly on a dog that eats healthy and has daily exercise.
  • Parasitic infection - Many types of worm infections can cause a dog to gain weight. This is diagnosed with blood and stool samples.
  • Thyroid issues - An under-active thyroid can cause a slowing of the metabolism that results in weight gain for dogs.
  • Cushing's disease - This is not that common with the Pomeranian breed however it is always a possibility. With this condition, there is an overproduction of cortisol that manifests with weakness, weight gain, increased appetite and thirst and hair loss.
How Did My Pomeranian Get So Big?

If the Pom is deemed healthy, other than the excess pounds, it will be due to overeating. Just as with humans, when a dog takes in more calories that is needed and does not burn off those calories through exercise, the result will be a weight gain for the dog. While most owners have good intentions and honestly do not believe that their dog is eating too much, there are 4 main elements that contribute to over-ingestion of calories:

Snacking - Many dogs are given little treats through out the day, these small calories snacks can add up quickly.

Begging - It is hard to resist those puppy eyes! A dog will beg for food unless you train him to know that you will not give in. If you give in once, your dog may not leave you alone until he gets a bit of your dinner. Throwing down those little pieces of cheeseburgers or steak can add up, especially with a tiny Pomeranian.

The Finicky Eater - Discussed in an earlier Pomeranian blog- Topic of the Month, a dog that seems to refuse to eat his food can be quite a challenge. An owner may then feed the dog human food on a regular basis - a huge no-no!

Performance Eating - Dogs are sometimes given treats every time that they behave. As discussed in our training topics, in most cases your Pomeranian should receive praise, hugs and kisses for his great behavior, not food.

In addition, if a dog gradually becomes less active, either due to an owner's busy schedule or a health/mobility issue, this can cause a Pom to gain extra weight as fewer calories are being burned. For optimal health, 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day is important. 
How Do I Know if My Pomeranian is Overweight?

The easiest way is to take a look at your dog's rib cage. This will tell you a lot. You will want to look at the ribs and touch the bones.

Looking - Stand above your Pomeranian. This can be done more easily when your Pom is wet after a bath and his fur is not getting in the way. Does the stomach area on the dog curve in? Is there a distinction between the upper torso and the lower torso of the dog? If not, there is most likely too much fat there.

Touching - Pushing the fur aside, try to gently touch the rib bones on your Pomeranian. Dogs that are underweight will have bones that are right against the skin and protruding in some places. Pomeranians that are overweight will have a thick shielding of fat between the bones and you; if you find it very difficult to even locate your pet's rib bones, this is a sign of obesity.

There is a mathematical equation that you can perform to determine how many calories a dog should be eating:

Metric System: weight in kilograms x 30 + 70 = calories needed per day. For example: 2.26 kg x 30 = 67.8 + 70 = 137.8 calories needed per day

Decimal System: weight in pounds divided by 2.2 x 30 + 70 = calories needed. For example: 5 pounds divided by 2.2 = 2.27 x 30 = 68.1 + 70 = 138 calories needed per day.

A much simpler method is to calculate 55 calories per pound for puppies and 45 calories per pound for adults; you'll notice that growing Pom puppies require more calories per pound than mature dogs since they are in a stage of rapid growth that requires more calories to burn as energy.

Helping a Pomeranian Lose Weight

You may simply feed your dog fewer calories and exercise a bit more each day; over time there will be a weight loss. This is a preferred method, because toy breed dogs are very sensitive and should not have the stress of a sudden surge of increased exercise. Adding 10 minutes to your dog's daily walk is suggested.

Dogs that enjoy eating will do best when they are given the same amount of food but with less calorie content. This can be accomplished by adding low calorie items such as green beans, baby peas and carrots. The volume that you place into a meal should replace the same amount of heavy, more calorie-laden food that is being taken out.

Other Reasons for a Pomeranian Being Large

There are some instances in which a purebred Pomeranian will be a "Throwback" Pom, a term used to describe a dog who has the appearance (and sometimes the behavior) of its much larger ancestors. There are also partial throwbacks. If your purebred Pomeranian is over 10 pounds (4.35 kg) )and not overweight, you may wish to read about Throwback Pomeranians.
More Help

Feeding...dieting...wondering if a Pom is too little or too large ! These are just a small piece of what a loving Pom owner needs to know. We have put together the most comprehensive Pomeranian-specific book that exists. NOW IN PRINT! Take a peek.
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