What Can Happen if You Overfeed a Puppy?

A chubby puppy may be cute, but he may also be well on his way to poor health.
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A well-balanced diet is essential to the health of your growing puppy, but owners often overfeed, hoping their puppy will grow up big and strong. Overfeeding puppies is a serious concern that will affect your puppy for the rest of his life. Feed your puppy the proper amount of food as instructed by your veterinarian and keep a close eye on his weight to avoid overeating-related health problems.

Digestive Irritation

A puppy’s digestive system is very delicate, and packing it with too much food is a recipe for irritation. Puppies who overeat will often vomit to relieve pressure on their distended stomachs. If your furry friend manages to keep the food down, it may reappear in a few hours in the form of diarrhea. Puppies who overeat for just a day or two should be back to normal in a couple of days; chronic overeating may result in diarrhea that lasts for weeks, even months. To avoid this unpleasant issue, feed your puppy the recommended amount on a consistent schedule.

Weight Gain

Excessive calories from overfeeding will lead to weight gain. Run your hands over your puppy’s back and sides; if you can’t feel his ribs under your fingers, he’s too heavy. Eating too many calories can increase the number of fat cells in his body, which can lead to heavier body weight later in life. Before you put your pudgy pup on a diet, ask your vet how to safely cut back his caloric intake.

Skeletal and Joint Development

Overeating may result in rapid growth in young puppies, and this condition can cause permanent skeletal damage. Osteochondrosis, a condition aggravated by rapid bone development, occurs when the cartilage and connective tissue do not receive enough nutrients. Puppies suffering from osteochondrosis may have swollen joints, limp or whine in pain. This condition mainly affects large breed puppies who take in too many calories, but may be present in smaller or mixed breed puppies who are allowed to eat too much.

Hip Dysplasia

While hip dysplasia is not a side effect of overeating, the more weight your dog has to carry, the more likely it is to impact his hips. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the ball joint at the hip does not fit together correctly, due to injury or malformation. The ball does not wear evenly, resulting in chronic pain and lameness. Puppies who overeat and rapidly gain weight place unnecessary strain on the hips and may cause uneven wear on the hip socket. If you suspect your puppy may have hip dysplasia, schedule him for an exam and diagnostic tests with your veterinarian.