Is Overfeeding A Dog Harmful? 

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I know a rolly-polly puppy can be so cute. It also can be irresistible to not give a dog treat to a cute doggo asking for something yummy. But is overfeeding a dog harmful? This may be an eye-opening one not only for your dog’s health but also for your dog’s budget. Today, let’s dig into all the aspects of overfeeding a dog.

NOTE: Before changing your dog’s diet, always talk with your vet.

a german shepherd dog enjoys a few dog food treats after his dog mom learned read is overfeeding a dog harmful
Budget tip:

This is a great one for you and your dog. If you feed your dog properly, with the right amount of food, you can save a good amount of money on your dog's budget. Well, maybe it’s not enough for a new car, but it’ll definitely be enough that you’ll notice. And more importantly, it’ll help improve your dog’s health tremendously. That is a win-win! 

Is overfeeding a dog bad for behavior?

Yes, it can lead down that road. Actually, overfeeding a dog can open the door to a multitude of health and behavior issues. Think how you would not enjoy having your food amount reduced, especially if you like eating a pile of donuts daily. Or how you’d be upset if you were forced to go for a long hike if you were used to grazing and “free feeding” from the couch all day. Change is never easy. While an overweight dog and weight gain generally never happens overnight, the process to a healthy weight and proper feeding also is a long journey. 

Is overfeeding a dog abuse?

The National Humane Education Society (NHES) points out that if overfeeding occurs to the point of obesity it can certainly be considered abuse. 

Sadly Petmed states that as many as 65% of dogs in the US are obese or at least overweight. 

I know you’re saying that sounds super high, but how is it abuse? Well, it can cause a variety of health issues, and limit a dog’s quality of life with general daily activities such as walking, breathing, sleeping, and self-grooming. In turn, it often results in a shorter lifespan. 

What specifically are the side effects and health risks of overfeeding a dog?

The risks of overfeeding your dog, as stated earlier, don’t happen overnight. It’s most often a cumulative effect. Comparing overfeeding your dog with yourself, think of Thanksgiving. Generally, we all overeat a bit on this holiday. However, it’s not a huge risk since it’s just a day or two. But think if you ate like that every day the results could be disastrous for your health and well-being. 

The same goes for your dog. With increased weight, your dog will be more prone to such health problems as:

  • Inflammatory diseases like arthritis
  • Filtration diseases involving the kidneys
  • Breathing diseases involving the lungs and respiratory system
  • Endocrine, insulin, and digestion diseases involving the pancreas and gastral intestine system 
  • Cardiovascular diseases and heart diseases involving the heart 
  • Body temperature regulation diseases of the hypothalamus 

Other specific symptoms and health issues a dog parent might see with overfeeding will include:

  • Food bloat 
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation 
  • Extra weight

Additionally overfeeding your dog leads to overweight dogs can result in various behavior issues such as: 

  • Aggression
  • Destructive chewing
  • Fearfulness
  • Indoor potty issues
  • Separation anxiety
  • Food guarding and food stealing
  • Feces eating

This all increases obese dogs’ risk of being diagnosed with diabetes or even cancer. 

And if that wasn’t enough, overweight dogs are also facing a shorter lifespan of as much as 2.5 years. That is huge considering how short their lives are to start. 

How do I feed my dog the proper amount? 

First talk with your vet about what is proper for your dog. If your dog is overweight, don’t put him on a strict diet. This can cause more issues. Always do a diet change under the guidance of your vet. 

While dog food will have a recommendation of feeding for your dog’s size and weight, that might not be the correct amount for your dog. Some reasons the listed recommendations might not be right for your dog could include:

  • Low activity/low energy
  • Health issues
  • High active/high energy
  • Nursing dog mom
  • Puppy

So, overfeeding is bad for my dog, but where does my budget come into play?

This is the cool part. Well, maybe not cool, but the bonus part. 

Overfeeding actually inflates your dog’s budget unnecessarily. While how much it increases your budget will depend on how much you overfeed and the type of food you give your dog, it does substantially affect your budget. After all, it’s one of the main expenses of your dog’s budget. 

How much can I really save if I don’t overfeed my dog?

As an example let’s explore a basic middle-of-the-road OTC dog food. Since I’m not endorsing this dog food, I’ll just provide the basics of what this dog food offers. 

This is a highly-rated dog food made with chicken and rice.

Here are the specifics:

Adult dog food
18lb bag = 96 cups
$45.68 = $0.47 per cup
Dog sizeRecommended feeding instructionsFood will last forFood will cost per day
3-12lb dog 1/2 to 1-1/4 cup daily 192 to 76.8 days$0.23 to $0.59
13-20lb dog 1-1/4 to 1-2/3 cups daily76.8 to 57.6 days$0.59 to $0.79
35-50lb dog 2-1/3 to 3 cups daily41.2 to 32 days$1.11 to $1.43

Now, let’s see what happens when we increase the feeding by only 10% per day. (These are approx. figures)

Dog sizeIncreased amount:Food will last forFood will cost per day
3-12lb dog 1/2 cup + 2-1/5 t to 1-1/4 cups + 1 T daily 172.8 to 69.8 days $0.26 to $0.65
13-20lb dog 1-1/4 cups + 1 T to 1-2/3 cups + 2 T daily 69.8 to 51.8 days$0.26 to $0.88
35-50lb dog 2-2/3 cups + 2 T to 3-1/3 cups daily 37.8 to 28.8 days $1.21 to $1.58

That means the yearly saving for not overfeeding your dog by 10% is:

Dog sizeCost with the recommended feeding per yearOverfeeding cost per yearSavings per year
3-12lb dog $83.95 to $215.35$94.9 to $237.25$10.95 to 21.88
13-20lb dog $215.35 to $288.35$237.25 to $321.20$21.90 to $32.85
35-50lb dog $405.15 to $521.95$441.65 to $567.70$36.50 to $45.75

While this is fairly remarkable, it’s not really the way I believe most dog parents will overfeed. It’s with extra dog treats, table scraps, and not measuring dog food. So, when you don’t measure the dog food and just fill a bowl. It’s generally more than 10% overfeeding. 

What’s the expense of more practical overfeeding my dog?

With the same example let’s look at rounding up the cups, which is probably the more accurate or practical view of dog food overfeeding. 

In this example it would mean: 

Dog sizeFeeding increaseFood will last forFood will cost per day
3-12lb dog 3/4 to 1-1/2 cup daily 128 to 64 days$0.36 to $0.71
13-20lb dog 1-1/2 to 2 cups daily64 to 48 days $0.71 to $0.95
35-50lb dog 3 to 4 cups daily32 to 24 days $1.42 to $1.90 per day

On a yearly basis, this means when you don’t overfeed your dog by rounding up or filling a dog bowl you save:

Dog sizeCost with the recommended feeding per yearOverfeeding cost per yearSavings per year
3-12lb dog$83.95 to $215.35$131.40 to $259.1$47.88 to $43.86
13-20lb dog $215.35 to $288.35$259.15 to $346.75$43.80 to $58.40
35-50lb dog $405.15 to $521.95$518.30 to $693.50$76.65 to $125.80

While the food you select will vary in cost, the savings, if you feed correctly, can be significant. Plus, when you factor in the health risks you can help your dog more easily avoid, then there really is no other option. 

NOTE: When I adopted Henry he weighed about 4lbs more than he does currently. This was simply because his previous owners feed him only junk human food and his foster home didn’t force him to eat healthily.

What if my dog begs for more food? 

Some dogs are prone to want to eat more, just like some people are prone to want to eat more. This can be a DNA issue or a breed issue. However, make sure you talk with your vet if your dog seems to be hungry. You may need to get your dog more active or feed smaller portions throughout the day. You can accomplish this with a timed feeder as long as your dog food doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated. 

There are dogs that hit their threshold of food and won’t touch anymore, even a yummy homemade dog treat. Henry falls into this class. Which is great and also bad when you need him to eat to take a prescription. Although, sometimes he saves room for a yummy treat and I get this look.

Henry will sometime leave a little bit of food and then ask for a cookie. Yes, it takes a lot to resist that look.

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Summary of is overfeeding a dog harmful? 

In short, yes overfeeding a dog can be very harmful. It can cause or lead to a variety of health and behavior issues, which means more vet visits, more prescription medicines, and worst of all a shorter lifespan. So, while it may take self-restraint on your part at times, it’s worth the effort. It’s in your dog’s best interest to feed the proper amount. Even if your dog asks for more food, try distracting him or her with a game or toy. If you feel your dog is hungry, then talk with your vet for guidance. 

Sometimes Henry will ask for some kind of human food that he absolutely can’t have like something with garlic. I suppose it smells good to him. Of course, I resist his asking. I know I’m doing what’s best for him. But it’s at these times I tell Henry I wish I had someone acting as my food police, I’d be better off too. 

When it comes to proper feeding stick to what’s right and know you’re helping your dog. Even if that means less food. There’s a bonus you’ll get with your dog budget not being unnecessarily inflated, which is great! It took Henry a bit to adjust to dog food and proper portions when I adopted him. Henry is certainly healthier for the adjustment. It was a winning move!

a husky pup waits for dinner after his dog mom read is overfeeding a dog harmful

Have you overfed your dog? Did you know about all the health and budget impacts of overfeeding a dog? 

8 thoughts on “Is Overfeeding A Dog Harmful? ”

  1. Carrying extra weight can be so detrimental to dogs (cats too!). It can lead to many serious health issues, just like in people! My Vet always comments on my dogs’ weight. She says they’re both at the perfect weight & urges me to ensure they stay that way.

    • I think extra weight in generally doesn’t help any living being. I was always very aware of my horses’ weight as well, especially as they aged. I didn’t want the extra weight to cause unnecessary leg or back issues. My vet was always on board with that thought process as well.

      I’m so glad to hear your pups are the perfect weight. My vet said the same thing about Henry. I asked him if I should start eating his food. It’s always easier to help someone else than ourselves, I think.

      Thank you for your continued support! I really appreciate it!

  2. Over feeding a dog is very bad and a pet parent must watch their weight to avoid any further health issues. Layla has been the same weight since I rescued her and the vet is very happy with that. I cringe when I see obese dogs

    • WOW!!! Now that’s impressive that Layla has remained the same weight. Henry lost a good bit and then tapered off to his optimum weight. It took a little while to get him to eat dog food. Now, he’s much healthier and has the optimum weight for him.

      Thank you for always being so supportive and giving me an update on Layla. I love hearing about her and you!

  3. People forget that it’s not just overfeeding, it’s overSPENDING and this should hit home. Our cats are the same, they put on a starved look and I have to resist!

    • You’re absolutely right. It can be easy to overfeed and not think about how much extra money is being spent. A healthy pet weight (dog, cat, horse, bunny, goat, whatever) is best for the pet and best for your pocketbook.

      Yep, it’s definitely tough to resist a sad look asking for something. I just remind myself that it’s for Henry’s best health and I it makes it easier. I just need someone to look after me like this too. 😀

  4. Such great info! I was always very aware of my Huskies’ weight, and fortunately, they were all in great weight, with the exception of my Epi-dog Gibson who once he went on epilepsy meds, he did experience a 20 lb. weight gain as a side effect. It took me two years and adjusting his food and adding in healthy veggie fillers like string beans and pumpkin puree, but I did eventually get him back down to his normal weight. You worry about all sorts of medical issues and structural issues when they gain weight. It’s amazing, too, how overfeeding can add up financially. Your breakdowns were an eye opener, and not something I think folks think of. And 65% of dogs are overweight – now that one surprised me. But again, in our day of supersize this and that, it makes sense that the same could be said for what people do with their dogs. Pinning and sharing this with my followers!

    • That 65% of dogs are overweight was an eye-opener for me as well. But as you said, society leans to the overweight side so it makes sense that your dogs do as well.

      I’m glad you liked my breakdowns. It was actually fun to do those calculations. I hope it helps many dog parents realize that overfeeding is not only a health risk but a financial drain.

      Thank you for your continued support and kind words! I really appreciate it.


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