Why Do Beagles Get Fat? : The Analytical Guide
Obesity in beagles is a life-altering situation that can be remedied and controlled. Up to 60% of all dogs are considered overweight, with nearly 50% of those being obese, which is considered more than 30% above their ideal weight range. Which leads us to the question: Why Do Beagles Get Fat? Let’s discuss this.
Wait — My Beagle is Fat?!
Does your dog look like they just consumed a football? Hate to tell you this — they may be fat. Let’s talk more in-depth.
General Weight Guidelines
- Adult beagles that are 13 inches or less [from the top of their shoulder blades to the floor], should be under 20 pounds.
- Adult beagles that are 13 to 15 inches, should be between 20 to 30 pounds.
Now don’t be remiss if your beagle doesn’t fit into these parameters. Some beagles may be slightly taller or have a larger-than-average bone structure, or maybe their breed is mixed with another larger breed.
The other thing to keep in mind is not to be too concerned about an overweight beagle puppy. Mainly, because they don’t really exist. Puppies carry additional fat resulting in a fuller, rounder look. It’s used to regulate proper body temperature and is used to help fuel their rapidly growing physiques. Most beagle puppy’s physiques are considered fully grown once they’ve reached the 1.5-year mark.
Now — If your adult beagle has gained [excluding a growing beagle puppy] or lost weight rapidly, and or you feel that something is ‘off’ about your beagle’s weight, consult your veterinarian. Better to be safe than sorry.
Observational Weight Guidelines
- Underweight: Ribs, spine and/or pelvic bones are clearly visible, even from a distance.
- Ideal Weight: Can feel ribs upon gentle petting. Their waistline is obviously thinner than their upper body when viewed from above.
- Overweight: Ribs cannot be felt upon gentle petting. No difference is observed between the size of their upper body and the size of their waist when viewed from above.
- Obese: Ribs felt only with pressure. Their waistline is the same size or wider than the upper body. Abdominal distention.
Ideal Weight – Detailed
- View from above: You should be able to observe an inward curve between the ribs and their rib cage.
- View from the side: There should be a gradual but evident up-curve, where the abdomen meets the rib cage.
- Feel the tail: You should be able to feel where the base of their tail meets their spine.
- Feel the ribs: Can you feel defined ribs. Your dog is clearly overweight/obese if you cannot feel the ribs at all.
What Are The Health Risks For An Overweight Beagle?
Canine obesity is a silent killer. It’s up to you to help your little buddy maintain a healthy and full life. Some health ailments that are attributed to obesity are:
- Shorter life span [potentially years less]
- Increased strain on the cardiovascular, muscular and respiratory systems
- Damage to internal organs
- Bone and joint damage
- Renal disease
- Muscle loss
- Liver disease
- Canine diabetes
- Heat intolerance
- Increased risk of some cancers
- Lower immune system function
- Slower recovery from surgery
Why Do Beagles Get Fat?
Just like their human counterparts, obesity can be brought on by both medical and non-medical variables.
As beagles age, they are more likely to become overweight, as they tend to naturally tend to lose some muscle mass and tend to be more sedentary as they age.
Female beagles have a higher propensity to become overweight than their male counterparts. Spaying further increases the odds.
This really falls on us. Heck, your beagle can even look to eating more when they’re stressed, bored or anxious or depressed; just like we do. Bottom line: If your beagle has access to an unlimited supply of food or treats throughout the day and night, what do we expect could happen? Yes, an occasional treat never hurt anybody. But they don’t need a treat for everything.
“Aww, Skyler blinked. How cute. He deserves a treat.” Don’t be like that.
Lack of Activity
This falls back on us too. Sure, we humans all want to be able to lounge about lazily like Garfield the Cat and not have a care in the world. However, that doesn’t mean we should actually apply that careless logic onto ourselves or onto our beagles. A sedentary lifestyle will have them super-sized in no time.
For the average beagle owner, having your pup spayed or neutered is a preferable and healthier option for your pet. One thing that results from their subsequent sterilization is their hormones change. This biochemistry alteration in their body results in their increased appetite and a slower metabolism.
Medications & Diseases
Biologically, medicine and diseases can widely alter many aspects of a beagle’s mind and bodily functions.
Food-Related Issues Regarding Your Overweight Beagle
Here are some tried-and-true recipes for success, for getting your beagle to a healthy weight. Remember, if it’s just you and your beagle — it’s easier to control their weight.
If you have a family, make sure they are on the same page as you, because otherwise there may be unintended self-sabotage that will happen.
Don’t allow your beagle to start a begging behavior. They can become master manipulators with those puppy dog eyes. Don’t fall prey to this tactic. Realize that in nature, wild dogs engorge themselves because they don’t know when their next meal will be. In a domestic environment, that coping mechanism isn’t necessary for them with responsible dog ownership.
Commercial Dog Food
A general rule of thumb regardless if you feed your beagle, canned or dried dog food, that you should follow would be:
- High in protein
- Moderate in fats
- Low in carbohydrates
Most commercial dog foods use a disproportionately higher amount of carbohydrates and/or bulking agents, not to mention enough additives to make your head spin. I mean, really? Why does dog food need coloring? Clearly, it’s not for your dog. It’s all consumer-driven. You should try to deviate from corn, soy, MSG, fillers or body-products. Ideally, the product should be manufactured in the United States — or your respective country.
If you want to ensure that your beagle remains or becomes full of energy and enthusiasm, it won’t hurt to provide them food products that are made with a complete nutritional profile. Yes, with that being said — I’m all for a great deal just like anybody else. Higher quality dog food does tend to be more expensive. However, this is an investment in your beagle’s health and future, so it’s more than worthwhile.
Simply put: It’s better to spend a little more being proactive, then to spend a lot more being reactive.
Home-Cooked Dog Food
Are you one of those types that makes their beagle their own food? Much respect is definitely given. Dogs are in fact omnivores with a carnivorous bias. That being said: Make sure to include an abundant supply of meats + vegetables while curbing the number of grains and starches.
Don’t worry about the energy aspect of the grains/starches. The vegetables will provide an ample source of energy. Not only that, but they contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals that will fortify your dog’s immune system, rendering them less susceptible to other issues.
When choosing grades of meat, you should try to gravitate toward lean cuts of meat. Fish is great, just be mindful of any mercury content. Protein will help build and maintain strong muscles, which will accordingly burn fat. How? Because just like humans; the more muscle we have, the higher their basal metabolic rate [BMR]. This essentially means the more muscle they have, the more calories they burn at rest and during activity.
Finally, when concocting your beagle’s dishes, it would be beneficial to add a small amount of fat, such as fish oil, into their food. Recent studies have shown that beagles can benefit from a healthy oil such as that, as it is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, that can help curb hunger, combat inflammation and improve mobility.
If you seek additional insight into this topic, we discussed it in a previous article here: Beagle Home Cooked Food: A Culinary Guide
Food Quantity and Scheduling
Not only is the type of food that you feed your beagle important, but the quantity and how their food is scheduled also plays a big impact. Don’t allow the never-ending love in your heart, equate to a never-ending supply of food. That also means don’t let them get comfortable with table scraps. Remember, your beagle’s daily caloric intake is exponentially less than yours.
Speaking of calories: Food labels on packages aren’t standardized in terms of their portions. You’d be much better off calculating calories and then adjust it accordingly to the measurement.
Automatic Food Dispenser
Your beagle’s food intake should be fed to them in 2 to 4 smaller portions daily. If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to feed them that many portions daily, you may wish to consider an automatic food dispenser that you can control when the food is dispensed on a timed schedule or even remotely via your smartphone.
If you’re needing some help with spacing out your beagle’s meal portions (like I did), a WestLink Automatic Dog Food Dispenser can work wonders.
Another way to control their portions is to encourage moderated eating through different means. Ever heard of a slow-feeding bowl? It works on the principle that by having their food displaced instead of all in one mound, it makes it more difficult for your beagle to scarf their food down.
If you’re looking for a highly-rated one, Amazon has one: Outward Hound Fun Slow-Feeder Bowl
Be sure to keep in mind that most commercial dog food labels are notoriously bad in terms of their feeding guidelines. Why? When doing the calculations, the dog food manufacturers generally figure that your dog is an un-spayed and un-neutered active dog in their prime. In that sense, you may be overindulging your beagle by over 20% over the amount they actually need.
Generally, assuming your beagle is healthy overall with no pre-existing conditions, you will generally be able to self-regulate their consumption and be able to keep their weight in check, based on their age, size, and the amount of physical activity. If you are in need of additional guidance or your beagle has health-related issues that have to be taken into account, your best bet is to consult your veterinarian.
Mitigate the Munchies
Did your beagle just go to the bathroom outside, and you or your family is compelled to give them a treat? That might be all well and good when you’re first housebreaking them, but do they really need that treat 3 years later after potty training has finished, and they are 5 lbs overweight. Absolutely not.
Not to say that treats shouldn’t be given. Of course, they can. Just be sure to provide more nutritious treats to your pup is all we ask.
Some examples of healthy, wholesome treats that you may wish to give a bite-sized amount can be:
- Apples [no seeds or core]
- Bananas [No peels]
- Sweet potatoes
Exercise That Beagle’s Body
Beagles that have become fat are part of a minority — since intrinsically they are a very active breed. As such, they rarely become overweight, as long as there are no existing health conditions or the other predominant issue that leads to their obesity: lazy owners.
Keeping your beagle moving and grooving has many benefits, as they will for you undoubtedly if you’re exercising with them. Some mutual benefits include:
- Helps promote weight loss or healthy weight maintenance
- Limit anxiety and depression
- Lowered bad cholesterol + heightened good cholesterol levels.
- Mitigated risk of diabetes
- Stronger joints and greatly flexibility/mobility
- Greater cardiac health
If your beagle is obese, be sure to consult your veterinarian to produce an effective weight loss plan that will be specially made for your beagle to minimize overexertion or risk of injury. Walking is an excellent exercise for most dogs, it tends to have a lower impact on joints, and doesn’t overstress the cardiovascular system.
As your beagle starts a new exercise plan, you’ll want to build up their strength and endurance slowly; starting with leisurely walks to eventually for 5-10 minutes to eventually gradually upping the time duration, then subsequently the exercise intensity through speed and/or terrain. 3 to 4 times per day daily is a healthy start and maintenance point.
The key is to make the exercise enjoyable for them. Toys, treats, encouragement and most importantly — your time, are all great rewards to your beagle.
A beagle is a very fortunate breed with relatively few health concerns and loves activity. Ensuring that your beagle is kept within a controlled weight range, will ensure their happier, healthier and longer life.
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