GSPs are lean by nature, so if your GSP is looking a little fat, then you need to do something about it.
It isn’t common for a GSP to become fat naturally because they are such high-energy dogs that usually burn off any excess calories they consume whilst running around like the lunatics they are.
I know with Hank; him being overweight has never been a concern of mine because of how much he moves around. Still, a chunky GSP needs to be dealt with responsibly to ensure they are in the best physical condition they can be.
If you have an overweight GSP and you’re not sure how to fix it, don’t worry. I’m on hand to help and I have a ton of advice about helping them lose weight, including food and exercise tips, and even some health concerns to keep you motivated to help them lose the weight they’ve put on.
Health Concerns With A Overweight German Shorthair Pointer
Being overweight is not good for a GSP, so make sure you take this post seriously if you’re dealing with a fat German Shorthair Pointer.
Lighting a fire beneath your ahem
This section is all about motivating you as the owner to change, because yes, unfortunately, the reason your GSP is overweight is because of how you have been caring for them (unless, of course, you’ve only just adopted your GSP and they were overweight before – then that’s the previous owners doing).
Either way, my point still stands. Only you, as the owner, can help get your GSP get in the shape they need to be in.
And I get it. You love your GSP – we all do. So you feed them a few extra treats than they should have, and you scrape your leftovers into their bowl to show them how much you love them, but if you don’t change, then your GSP will remain overweight.
And a fat German Shorthair Pointer will face some serious health concerns if you don’t get it in check. You love your GSP, and it’s because you love your GSP that you’re going to change the way you care for them so they are in the best physical health they can be.
If you don’t change, then expect to see these serious health concerns in the not too distant future.
Hip dysplasia is something GSPs are prone to anyway because of their build, but an overweight GSP is even more likely to suffer from this because of the extra strain that is being placed on their hips because of the additional weight. This will lead to even more pain for them as their hips wear down more easily.
That’s right, an overweight GSP is much more likely to suffer from heatstroke, which can potentially be fatal in dogs.
This is because they are naturally hotter anyway due to the extra insulation that the added layers of fat provide.
That means you might not be on the lookout for signs of heatstroke because the temperatures outside may not be soaring, but your overweight GSP might struggle more than you realize in lower temperatures too.
Failing to cool down a dog in heatstroke is seriously dangerous.
Arthritis is an obvious one for all overweight dogs, not just chunky GSPs, but it’s worth mentioning here anyway because it can be incredibly uncomfortable for your dog.
The pressure you add on to your dog’s joints by just being a few pounds overweight can be damaging over time. If your GSP is massively overweight, then the effects are worsened, leading to arthritis at an earlier age, and more severe pain as a result.
This pain then requires more aggressive treatment, more medication, and an increased expense for you. Seriously, an overweight GSP with arthritis isn’t good for anyone, especially them!
Back problems go hand in hand with arthritis in overweight GSPs, but it can be so bad that their backs just give out entirely.
The more weight a dog carries, the more their joints are worn down, leading to total failure in severe cases.
This can then lead to their untimely death. It’s sad to say because nobody wants to think about their GSP leaving them, but the more overweight they are, the more serious the health concerns become.
Breathing problems (including windpipe collapse)
The final major health concern for GSPs that are fat are breathing problems. This can lead to anything ranging from mild breathing problems, such as them becoming out of breath after a short walk, or severe breathing problems, such as a total windpipe collapse.
Most owners don’t realize how serious being overweight is for their dog, so looking after their weight is important.
I did not include this section to criticize you or scare you, simply to light that fire under your… well, you know. If you’re feeling motivated to help your GSP lose the weight to get them fighting fit again, then read on, because I have everything you need to help make them healthier than ever.
This section might surprise you, because I’ll be talking about everything you should be doing with your GSP, and I get it – it’s a lot. But GSPs are working dogs, great hunters, highly intelligent, and full of energy.
These factors combined make them very demanding dogs on the exercise front, and it’s your job as a responsible owner to make sure they get what they need.
A standard amount of exercise for a GSP should be two 30 minute walks every day. And that really is the bare minimum, so if you aren’t hitting this, then this is the lowest standard you ought to set your sights on to start with.
Once you’ve achieved this and your GSP can do it safely without becoming out of breath, then you can do some more activities too or extend the walks.
Make sure you walk them during the coolest hours of the day and take water with you too – overweight GSPs need to be watched constantly for signs of fatigue so you don’t push them too hard too soon.
This can often do more damage than good. Start small and work your way up if needs be.
A great activity that your GSP will love to do is swimming – I know Hank can never get enough of it. It’s great for overweight GSPs too because it’s relatively low impact so it won’t damage their joints further, and it’ll also keep them cool so they don’t become overheated.
Some other great activities once they’ve built up their stamina some more include fly-ball, fetch, and chase.
You could also get involved in exercising with your GSP once their stamina has improved a little. Activities that are fun to do together include jogging and hiking.
A GSP can handle two 20 minute jogs a day, and once they are at peak physical fitness, they will hike with you all day if you let them. Me and Hank hike often, and it’s one of the best ways to bond with your GSP.
Again, whilst losing weight, just be conscious of how your GSP is responding. If they look exhausted or out of breath, cut the exercise short – their health is more important than losing weight.
They’ll get to a healthy weight eventually anyway, even if it takes a little longer because you have to go slower at first.
Here is where you’ll find everything about the food your GSP should be eating, how much of it, and how often. This section isn’t about policing what your dog consumes, it’s just about managing it responsibly.
Do I give Hank treats from time to time? Of course I do, and you can too when your GSP is back at a healthy weight, just hold off on the treats for now or switch them to healthier alternatives whilst you help them lose weight.
What foods should your GSPs be eating?
Look for foods high in protein and made with real fruits and vegetables. Dog food that is padded out with wheat products and grains will fill your dog up, but they won’t be beneficial to their health.
These healthy dog foods will cost you more, but they’ll also give your GSP the fuel they need to get out there and exercise!
How much is enough?
Consult the specific brand of dog food you have for your GSPs weight, but generally it’s recommended that adult GSPs have 5 cups of dry food each day.
Most GSPs that have become overweight are often from homes where their food intake isn’t monitored.
If your house works on the basis that if the dog bowl is empty, then they mustn’t have been fed yet, then your intelligent GSP will devour food to convince others in the house they haven’t been fed when they already have been.
Many owners don’t know that measuring their GSPs food out is a necessity too, so get into the habit of monitoring when your GSP has been fed and how much was given.
With Hank, I give him 3 cups of dry food in the morning, and 3 cups in the evening. Yes, that is 6 cups – so slightly higher than the average, but Hank is also a very active boy, so he needs a little more fuel.
For you, 2 and a half cups in the morning and then again in the evening will be great if your GSP isn’t overly active. Just split the daily recommended amount according to the package instructions across two meals.
General tips to motivate an overweight GSP
To finish, I’ll give you some extra tips to get your overweight GSP up and moving. I know it’s difficult to convince your GSP to get up to do the exercise they need to do when they are used to lazing around all day, so follow these tips to give them the motivation to exercise.
This is a great way to get your GSP excited and motivated. Take them to a new park, mix up your typical walking route, or simply visit a friend’s house to play fetch. Whatever it is, GSPs get bored by the same old routine too, so break them out of it to get them moving more.
There’s no better motivator for friendly GSPs than other dogs. Head somewhere like a dog park where lots of dogs will run around to get them to exercise more too.
Seeing a bunch of other dogs off the leash and running will make them want to as well because GSPs are so social and never want to miss out on any fun!
Interactive exercise games
Finally, why not try some interactive games to keep them motivated. I’ve already mentioned fetch (one of Hank’s favorites) but why not incorporate some treats into interactive games too to keep them doubly motivated.
The more incentive you give them to exercise, such as your attention or some tasty treats or fun games, the more likely they’ll be to push harder.
Follow the tips in this guide and your overweight GSP will slim down to a healthy size in no time. If you’re really concerned about their weight, then consult a vet first to make sure you’re doing the best things for them.
They’ll also be able to advise you specifically about the amount of exercise that’s suitable for your GSP and provide you with a diet plan too.
Whatever you do, make sure you stick within your GSPs limits and give them plenty of encouragement and before you know it, they’ll be looking and feeling much better!