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- I didn't expect cocker-spaniels to be so keen on food, otherwise I wouldn't get Chita. She is incredibly plump. All she does is eating and sleeping. Have no idea how to struggle her.

- Normally animals keep their average state, regulating it by the amount of food consumed. If a rat is fed with the food rich in calories, she eats less. If the food is mixed with innutritious cellulose the rat eats much more.

Different animals need different amounts and types of food. However all they require carbohydrates and proteins, since for all of them food is the source of energy for brain, heart, muscles and the rest organs. Food is the building material. Digesting it, animals get substances and vitamins for growth and reconstruction of tissues.

The majority of beasts grow and develop well without fats or with little amount of those. But fats are the reserve substances and are closely connected to transformation of carbohydrates and even proteins. Fat may be saved in the deposit after a digestion of a highly nutritious food that may not include pure fats.

Fats may also serve as a shock-absorber.

But fats may accumulate in big amounts in the organism. It this case the excessive depositions of fats in hypoderm and other tissues are called OBESITY.

This disorder is quite wide-spread among animals kept indoors.

It may be caused by a cranium injury. As a result of trauma in frontal lobes the dog may start to eat continuously until becomes very corpulent.

Obesity may develop after the injury of hypothalamus - the department of interbrain, being at its base. Here lies the so-called SATIETY CENTER, which determines the moment when the animal has ate enough and inhibits ingestion.

If the locus with the satiety center is destroyed rats begin to eat vast amounts of food, at least four times much than the healthy animals. However such hyperphagia, or, in plain words, gluttony may last for three weeks. After this the rat eats less and stops at the level when eats approximately twice as much norm. Of course, the rat grows fat and inactive.

The injury of the center may highly raise the satiety threshold. But hypothalamus also includes one more center that increases the food intake.

The fact is that hypothalamus is closely bind to other brain departments and hypophysis, the endocrine gland, and thus controls the whole hormone system of the organism. This feature together with the rich blood supply makes hypothalamus very sensitive to deviations in metabolism and allows it to engage the reactions that improve the abnormality in time.

The process of fat accumulation and consumption is complicated and goes under the control of brain cortex. Along with hypothalamus it has a strong effect on the obesity status if some disorders in its activity.

When the process of energy consumption and appetite, which determines the income of energy material and intensity of metabolism, are disbalanced, the organism starts to accumulate fats.

The obesity may happen when the endocrine glands are upset. This disorder usually takes place in the old animals.

If the cortex of adrenal gland throws out excessive amounts of hormones, the dog organism, especially of a Boxer or a Poodle, begins to grow fat gradually. And ultimately, thin and weak legs can hardly bear the weighty body.

At reduced thyroid gland activity both birds and mammals become fat, even when they eat not much.

For the centuries people know castration deeply affect the behavior as well as the exterior of the animal.

Nevertheless, domesticated animals and those wild, but living with humans, grow fat most often through a habit to overeat, which is formed in childhood or in adult age owing to:
- incomplete diet;
- excessive amounts of one type of nutrients in the absence of another type of nutrients (disbalance);
- inactive way of life.

The hereditary predisposition may also influence fatness. It may be expected that the activity of the centers in hypothalamus that regulate feeding behavior, have inborn or acquired peculiarities.

The animals that suffer obesity have rounded body shape. In case of birds, fat lies under the skin on the surface of the chest and the belly. In dogs fats are deposited in subcutaneous tissue on the neck, the belly and the rear. Soft and elastic wrinkles are formed on the neck and the back of the body. In cats, which suffer the disorder resulting from immoderate feeding and life inside the house, fats spread along the whole body. If the male cat is sterilized, fat can be found only on his neck, the chest, the belly and between under hind legs.

When with surplus weight animals are languid and indifferent. They suffer general weakness and get tired very quickly. Therefore dogs and cats have to lie much. Birds mainly sit since partly or totally lose the ability to fly. Male canaries stop singing.

Usually ill animals have increased appetite. Obesity affects the whole organism but first of all, the blood system. Increased bloodstream because of excess adipose tissue, accumulation of fat in the heart, increased body volume - all these contribute to extra loadings for the heart and hamper its activity.

Even a light physical loading causes short breathing. For the dogs a small passage upstairs at once makes the pulse rapid. Short flight makes the bird breath with open beak.

Obesity contributes to inflammations in respiratory organs. As the weight grows bigger the higher goes the ratio of bronchitis and pneumonia.

Adipose deposits interfere with the normal stomach and intestines activity. Mammals and birds suffer constipation.

Birds, especially parrots, canaries, chaffinches and goldfinches, as well as mammals have an increased liver. Parrots, died from obesity, have liver very soft and flabby, white or yellowish.

Sexual glands get an impact too. Males cease their interest to females. In females the heat circle gets broken, and the sterility may follow.

Other diseases may arise, like eczema in dogs, shedding in birds, resulting in bold spots. Dogs and cats may lose smell acuity.

As for the TREATMENT, the most effective method is therapeutic diet. The food should consist of well-balanced proportions of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The calorie content should be regulated by moderate proportions of carbohydrates and fats.

The amount of vegetables and fruits in the diet should be increased, especially uncooked pieces, since they reduce production and accumulation of fat in the organism and decrease the transformation of carbohydrates into the adipose tissue. Food rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, spaghetti, bread and potatoes should be minimal. Needless to say that such dainty as biscuits, pastries, sugar, candies and the like should be absolutely excluded.

Also one must give less vegetable oils and butter. To avoid hunger give the animal food rich in proteins: fresh meat, curds or clabber.

Cut down the amount of water.

To stimulate blood circulation one may apply the general body massage.

Bathing, or rather frequent swimming trainings, especially in cool water, is a good method to struggle obesity both in dogs and cats. Long walks are no less effective. Take a cat or a dog to the forest, in the country, etc.

But the main thing is to keep off over-diligence. You can't let the bird out of cage and make her fly for two hours through. You can't take a dog or a cat for a long walk right away. Physical work - walking, running, swimming and flying - is to be increased gradually.

Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).