Friday, March 19, 2010
A Weighty Issue
Big or small, canine, feline or human, we all have weight issues.
Chan and I each have a dog who firmly believes we're trying to starve them for no reason. Chan's Sissy speaks about it on her blog, Don't Mess With My Tutu. My Samba is on high doses of steroids to combat an auto-immune disease and is constantly hungry. What do you do with a dog who is always so hungry that she'll resort to stealing food? How do you know if your dog is overweight? What's a good weight for a dog?
My Lucy was a Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix and when she came to live with us at eight weeks she was starving. The family she was born into wasn't interested in the puppies and didn't feed them enough and Lucy was in very poor condition. She never outgrew that mindset and throughout the rest of her life, she was convinced she was starving.
Rob and I allowed her to overeat and her weight blew up to 28 pounds. She looked like a long haired sausage and one morning when she was about five years old, Lucy couldn't get up. Her back couldn't handle all the extra weight and we were afraid she'd never walk again.
Dr B gave Lucy meds for her back, but he also put her on a strict diet and scolded us for letting her get into that situation. After all, we controlled the food, not Lucy. We stuck to the diet and Lucy lost half her body weight and for the rest of her life weighed about twelve pounds.
Two of my dogs, Lola and Noah have always seemed too thin to me. Every time I ask the vet, he tells me they're perfect. He says that dogs who are kept 25% under what is commonly considered normal weight have fewer joint problems, and tests on rats have shown that the thinner ones have less auto-immune disease. Even though the study used rats, he feels the same would apply to dogs.
Dr B has told me on many occasions not to go by the numbers on the scale. Feel the dog's ribs. A padding of 1/8" is perfect. 1/8" isn't very much padding. He'll allow up to 1/4", but over that he tells me to have them drop some weight.
I currently have only one dog that needs to lose weight. Sky is a lot like me. He loves to eat and he hates to exercise. His idea of a perfect day is to eat breakfast, grab his glow ball and stretch out on the window seat to snooze till dinner.
I've cut Sky's food by 1/2 cup and substituted green beans. Sky isn't crazy about green beans, but he's hungry and eats them. The beans make him feel full without adding a lot of calories. Morgan eats green beans every day with her dinner and her weight is perfect for the first time in her life. Samba is also eating green beans to make her feel more full. We buy them by the case.
Sky doesn't like to exercise. He doesn't run much. If we throw his ball, he'll lope down the hill after it, grab it and stroll back to us. Since he isn't putting a lot of effort into the program, we need to increase the repeats. To give him the exercise he needs, we have to throw the ball till our arm feels like it's going to fall off. He'll bring it back as often as we throw it.
On my other blog it seems like my dogs are always getting treats. It's not as frequent as it appears on the blog. We do have a party occasionally, but most days our afternoon treat is carrot or apple or melon. When I buy dog treats, I look for ones that are nutritious and low calorie. We buy four different types of dog food to meet the needs of different dogs. It's not one size fits all.
There may be medical reasons why your dog is overweight. Thyroid is a common one. Check with your vet, have a simple blood test done, discuss the results and ask for help in maintaining a healthy weight for your pet
The control is in your hands. Don't kill your best friends with kindness, you want them to be around as long as possible.