I Love Big Mutts… The Skinny On Dog Obesity
I have to confess that I love pudgy dogs. Their little round bellies are so freakin’ cute! We lovingly refer to Oliver’s shape as that of a rugby ball and Iggy looks like a potato with toothpicks for legs. Unfortunately that also means that they are most likely overweight. According to various studies, over 50% of the pet population in the United States is overweight or obese. Wow!
A few weeks back I took all three of my Chihuahua tribe to our local vet for their regular check up. While we had the doctors ear, I asked her about their weight. Sure enough, she confirmed that both Oliver and Iggy could stand to lose some weight. Percy had actually dropped weight from the last visit and tends to runs skinny any way. Oliver’s weight came in at around 8.6 pounds and Iggy weighed in at a whopping 8.4 pounds. Our vet suggested that Oliver should weigh somewhere in the 7 to 7 1/2 pound range and Iggy should be in the 6 1/2 to 7 pound range. So they need to lose approximately 1 to 2 pounds, respectively.
Pet obesity is just as bad for your animals as obesity is for you and me. When a pet is over weight it puts them at greater risk for serious illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, liver & kidney disease, respiratory issues, and arthritis just to name a few. We all love our pets and would never do anything that would intentionally harm them, but being overweight can harm them and shorten their life span. The good news is however that its really not that hard to turn things around and help our furry friends get to and stay at a healthy weight.
See Your Vet – First things first. If you haven’t had your pup or cat in for a wellness check with your veterinarian, schedule one now. Once again, as with humans, it is always good to know if your pet is healthy. Your vet can also guide you on your pet’s ideal weight based on their breed, age and health condition. Our checkup worked out to be great timing because, back in my January post, I had mentioned that our goal this year was to get all the boys out more for exercise.
Exercise Is Good For Everyone – Second step is to get moving. Percy is my regular walking buddy so he will be helping me get the other two couch potatoes out and about. Sometimes owners of little dogs like me forget that they need to get out and exercise just like the big dogs. Just wandering around the back yard or going for a potty walk isn’t enough. They need to really move their little bodies. Percy can walk 2 to 3 miles on any given day, depending on the weather. Oliver and Iggy have to take things a little slower. Oliver is 13 years old and has patella issues. Iggy is only 8 years old but has really short legs and is a chunky monkey. Walking the three of them together is a nightmare but my Christmas present this year was a Pet Gear Dog Stroller!!!! Don’t roll your eyes at me. It is indispensable for walking all three Chihuahuas. Each pup can walk what they are able, being rotated in and out of the stroller as needed. This also allows me to get in the distance I need to walk and not be shortchanged because I have tiny dogs.
Measuring Cups are Your Friends – The third step in your pups weight loss is measuring their food. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right amount for your pup and their weight goals. We have always been a free feeding family but I never measured out the dog food. I normally just filled the bowl anytime it was empty. Now we are going to start measuring out the dry kibble based on our vet’s recommendation. Using the amounts on the back of the food bags is not always the best way to determine how much to feed. I have to be careful because as I mentioned above, Percy tends to run on the skinny side so I need to make sure he is getting enough food while the other two are being feed only what they need. We also sometimes feed wet food so that has to be factored in as well.
Treats Can Be Good For You! – The fourth and last step has to do with treats. I love to spoil my dogs and their big brown eyes are truly really hard to resist. But resist I must! Now I’m not saying don’t give your pups treats, but think about the treats you are giving them and when you’re giving them. When feeding treats, can you break the treat into smaller pieces? Your pet doesn’t know if you have given them one treat broken up into two or three pieces, or three full treats. What about giving them healthier, low-calorie treats? Dogs like baby carrots, green beans, apples, bananas and pumpkin. You can feed these raw or think about making homemade treats using fresh ingredients.
We will be using these four steps in our quest for turning Oliver and Iggy into the leaner versions of themselves. I will keep you updated on their progress and we go. I love my tribe and want them to be around for as long as possible with the best health possible. As their mom, their health is my responsibility.
Have you had to put your pet on a weight loss program? If so, what can you share that worked out great or didn’t work at all? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.