Alaskan Malamutes are unfortunately prone to obesity, leading to a large proportion of Malamutes being overweight. This is likely a result of their willingness to eat almost anything that’s given to them and a lack of understanding into the needs of the breed. It’s therefore no surprise that one of the most common question we receive is ‘is my Alaskan Malamute overweight?’.
We’re here to help you and your Malamute get back on track towards a healthier lifestyle with our key changes that are bound to get the pounds dropping off again. Keep reading for our full guide on what to do if you think your Alaskan Malamute is overweight.
How to Tell If Your Alaskan Malamute is Overweight?
Before discussing any lifestyle changes, it’s important to determine whether your Alaskan Malamute is overweight. This is, unfortunately, not an easy task as the healthy weight of a fully grown Alaskan Malamute varies greatly.
This means that weight alone can not be used as a determining factor as to whether your Alaskan Malamute is overweight. What might be a healthy and perfectly reasonable weight for one Malamute could be considered obese or underweight for another.
For reference though, the AKC Breed Standard for an Alaskan Malamute states that an adult female should weigh around 75 pounds (approx. 35kg) and an adult male should be around 85 pounds (approx. 40kg).
Besides looking at the number on the scale, there are a few ways to determine whether your Alaskan Malamute is overweight. Firstly, check their physical appearance. A healthy Malamute will have a ‘tuck’ at the point where their ribcage ends, meaning their lower gut appears to cave in a little. Even with a thick coat, this tuck should be noticeable.
If you are struggling to see this on your Malamute, it could be a sign that they have packed on some unnecessary extra fat.
Another sign that your Alaskan Malamute is overweight is if their behaviour has changed. Overweight Malamutes are often significantly less energetic than their healthier counterparts, and they may beg for food more frequently (and more desperately) than they ever used to.
Finally, we of course recommend taking your Alaskan Malamute to a vet to determine whether they are overweight. This is particularly helpful if your Malamute has been to the same vet for any kind of checkup previously, as there is likely to be a record of their weight which can be used for comparison.
The previously mentioned behavioural changes can, in rare cases, be a sign of something more serious going on with your Malamute’s health. If you notice any sudden changes to their day-to-day attitudes, please consult with your vet.
3 Key Changes for Fat Loss in Overweight Alaskan Malamutes
Note: Before making any changes to your Alaskan Malamute’s diet or exercise routine, we always recommend that you consult a vet. This is to ensure that there are no underlying health issues behind your Malamute’s extra weight or any issues that could cause future problems when changing their lifestyle and eating habits.
1. Put Your Alaskan Malamute on a Safe Diet
The first (and most obvious) step towards helping your Alaskan Malamute lose weight is to decrease the amount of food you are feeding them. To lose weight, your Malamute needs to be in a calorie deficit meaning they are consuming fewer calories than they are burning off throughout the day.
A healthy Alaskan Malamute should be eating 3-4 cups of high-quality dry food per day, usually split into two separate mealtimes.
We’ve often heard from owners who measure their Malamute’s food by eye or feed them anytime their dog appears hungry. If your Malamute is overweight though, we highly recommend sticking to a strict routine where their food is measured out each time you feed them.
If the daily recommended feeding amount is significantly less than you are currently feeding your Alaskan Malamute, we recommend slightly decreasing the amount of food you are giving them each week until you reach this amount. This helps to prevent destructive behaviours from forming as a result of hunger, such as poop eating and excessive begging, as the change in their diet will not be so sudden.
Choosing a high-quality food brand for your Alaskan Malamute is very important. Low-quality dog foods typically contain a high percentage of calorie-dense filler ingredients that offer no nutritional benefit to your Malamute. In comparison, higher quality dog foods will contain more beneficial nutrients, vitamins and proteins to keep your Malamute healthy.
One of our personal favourite dog food brands is Orijen and their food has kept our Malamutes happy and healthy throughout the years. They even have a specialised ‘Fit and Trim’ dry dog food mix which is specifically made to help dogs maintain a healthy weight.
2. Slowly Increase Your Alaskan Malamutes Exercise Time
As previously mentioned, your Malamute can only lose weight by being in a calorie deficit. Whilst changing their eating habits is one of the easiest ways to achieve this, we recommend that you also take a look at your Malamute’s current daily exercise time.
Increasing the amount of exercise your Alaskan Malamute does each day will increase the number of calories they burn. Not only this, but it will help to improve their overall health by strengthening their cardiovascular system (their heart and related organs) and providing mental stimulation.
We recommend ensuring that your Alaskan Malamute gets at least one hour of vigorous exercise per day, assuming that no existing health conditions prevent it. Most Malamutes will happily exercise for much longer than this if they are allowed to do so. Vigorous exercise refers to activities such as walking at an average pace or playtime that involves running, for example, fetch with a toy.
If your Malamute does not currently exercise or is not used to exercising for longer than 30-minute intervals, we recommend gradually increasing their daily exercise time each week until they can sustain one hour of activity or longer. This will not only help to prevent injuries to their muscles and joints but also ensure that exercise isn’t viewed as a negative activity by slowly easing them into a more active lifestyle.
3. Limit Treats to Beneficial Situations
All too often we hear from owners that they’re feeding their Alaskan Malamute’s a healthy amount and exercising them plenty, but they still seem to be overweight. In situations where underlying health issues are not to blame, the problem usually lies with the number of treats they are feeding them.
Don’t worry, we’ve fallen victim to this many times ourselves. We know just how easy it is to give in to our Malamute’s puppy dog eyes when they’re begging under the dinner table or even feeding them treats to try and bargain with them to calm down.
Unfortunately, the reason that dog treats are so addicting to our Malamutes is that they are usually calorie-dense and full of non-beneficial (but very tasty) ingredients. Human foods can contain even more calories, and feeding them the odd mouthful or leftover adds up to a large number of extra calories every day.
If this sounds like a scenario you often find yourself in, we recommend changing your Alaskan Malamute’s treating habits. The best way to do this is to purchase treats that have an assigned purpose, for example, daily dental treats that maintain healthy teeth and gums or training treats that can be used for rewarding good behaviour.
Assigning a purpose to their treats will make it easier for you to keep track of how many your Malamute has had each day. It also means that you don’t have to cut out giving them treats altogether. Whilst it can be difficult, we also recommend avoiding feeding them any human food, or at the very least try significantly reducing the amount you are feeding them.
Final Thoughts on ‘Is my Alaskan Malamute Overweight?’
So, is your Alaskan Malamute overweight? If so, the first step towards getting them back to being healthy is to change your own habits. Whilst the road to a healthier weight is long and difficult, it will undoubtedly be worth it to see your Malamute live a long and happy life.
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