Your four-legged friend has an appetite for anything edible and he will steal a hot dog off your plate at a barbeque. You try to feed him a healthy diet and avoid giving him table scraps, but somehow, he still gains weight. Beagles are not only known for their cute, lovable eyes, but the increasingly high numbers on the scale, causing severe health problems. Their breed is in headlines because some dogs end up being 80 or more pounds. Your Beagle’s waist has been gradually expanding and you are becoming concerned. Why is it that Beagles get so fat while other dogs maintain their shapely stature?
The Root of the Behavior
Beagles are known for their adorable eyes and their pudgy little bodies. This breed averages in size from 18-30 pounds, classifying them as a small hound breed. Their friendly demeanor and ability to like people and other dogs make them excellent pets. They are active pups and need a moderate amount of exercise to stay happy, but they work well in smaller homes, making them great for apartments. No matter where a Beagle lives, he lives for food. Many Beagles eat fast and sometimes don’t even taste their food. They wolf down anything and everything in front of them and will steal food off your plate if you are not careful. These cute canines get crafty and will take food if it is unattended. Mysteriously lose some steaks, burgers, or chicken? Your Beagle might know where it went.
Beagles are always eager to eat, they eat quickly, and will beg to get what they want. Their begging combined with their cute eyes makes it hard for their human friends to say no. As a result, these food-loving pups eat more than they should and gain weight. Beagles need a moderate amount of exercise. Their small stature might seem like they would get tired after a short walk, but Beagles actually need at least 20-40 minutes of exercise per day and opportunities for intense cardio exercise 1-2 times per week. Their need for exercise is great; if Beagles get all the food they beg for and don’t get proper exercise, they will gain weight. As a member of the hound family, Beagles were originally used to hunt and track prey, which means they were very active. Don’t let a Beagle fool you into thinking he’s slow moving because an adult Beagle can run up to 20 mph. If your Beagle is in healthy shape, he can probably move faster than you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Being obese is not healthy for humans and it is not healthy for dogs. An overweight Beagle is at risk for developing serious health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, wear and tear on ligaments and tendons, breathing problems, snoring, heart disease, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, and shorter life expectancy. Making sure your Beagle follows a healthy diet and has plenty of exercise are crucial to keeping him in an optimal state of health. To manage your Beagle’s weight, measure his food and do not feed scraps or table food to your dog, no matter how cute those eyes are. You could split his food into smaller meals, so he gets the same amount of food, but is tricked into thinking it’s more because the frequency is increased.
Take your four-legged friend for daily walks and let him run at the dog park or in the yard. Play frisbee, fetch, or even jump through hoops. Because Beagles were once on the hunt, they have energy that can be used with games and activities to stimulate their mind. Beagles who have excess energy tend to be harder to train, so providing them with enough opportunity to expend that energy will make teaching commands easier. It’s difficult being the one responsible for saying no to extra treats, but an overweight Beagle is at risk for so many problems. Tough love is needed to keep him healthy. If you’re struggling to say no when he begs for food or treats, you can cut the treats in half or give him healthy options. Carrots are a healthy alternative and are great for removing plaque from teeth. You can also give him green beans, green peas, or other low-calorie snacks.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you’re not sure your Beagle is overweight, do a visual assessment. When you look at your Beagle from above, you should be able to see his ribs, but they should not stick out. His waist should also be indicated with an indentation between the last rib and his hips. If you touch his body, you should be able to feel the ribs under the fur. If you cannot feel them or have to try very hard to find them, he is probably overweight. Once you’ve assessed your dog, call the vet for proper treatment. Your vet will tell you how much food you should be giving your Beagle daily and what snacks are best. If your Beagle gained weight rapidly, take him to the vet. Sometimes, dogs develop health conditions that pack on the pounds and his weight gain might not be simply a result of overeating. If you put your dog on a healthier diet and he is not losing weight, call the vet as it might also indicate a health problem.
Practice saying no to those cute Beagle eyes. Keeping your Beagle a healthy weight will keep him around longer and make him happier. If you’re struggling to issue some tough love, arm yourself with carrot sticks and low-calorie doggie treats in case you cave. Your Beagle will appreciate being healthy and not becoming a rounded Beagle bagel.