One of the most serious health concerns we see in the Finnish Spitz is excess weight. Not only is it bad for overall health, it is particularly hard on joints and is the most common reason for luxating patellas. Just like in humans, excess weight is very hard on the knees.
The cause of obesity is OVERFEEDING. Plain and simple. So often I hear “but he doesn’t eat very much”. I explain that if the dog is overweight, he is eating more than he needs. How can a Finnish Spitz eat so little and still become overweight? It is because the metabolism of the Finnish Spitz is still set for the forest hunter who can run and jump all day without resting. You’ve seen it in your backyard. They have a LOT of energy and they can maintain this energy with not a lot of food. We call them “easy keepers“. But as our dogs in North America lead a more sedate lifestyle, the dogs eat that small amount of food, they will gain too much weight.
One cup of kibble per day is usually adequate food for a Finnish Spitz. This is not a lot of food for a dog their size. All dogs are individuals though so the only way to know if you are feeding the right amount (not too much or too little) is to feel the dog’s body. Most literature says you should be able to find the ribs. But if a breed has a particularly thick coat, like the Finnish Spitz, sometimes if you can feel the ribs the dog is actually too thin. So rather than feel the ribs I recommend feeling for the top of the pelvic bones. These are two knobby bones on either side of the top of the hips, just under the root of the tail. You should be able to feel these two bones without there being a dip between them. If it is too hollow between the two knobs then the dog is too thin.
You should also see a waist when standing over the dog.
I often notice dogs with too much weight are flabby looking and have a particularly protruding chest. Finnish Spitz put weight on the front of their chests. This will even swing from side-to-side when they are trotting. If you feel your dog is too hungry with less food there are tricks to helping them feel full without adding more calories. A great diet food is steamed green beans. You buy the frozen ones and steam lightly. Add one cup to the regular food which has been cut in half if the dog needs to lose weight, or the regular portion with one cup of green beans added if the dog just seems too hungry. We also cook pumpkin this time of year and give everyone a chunk of pumpkin. The dogs love it and it helps them feel full.
Canadian Finnish Spitz Club Président
-The Red Letter October 2017-