The Skinny On Losing Weight With Your Dog

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I’ll admit,  Charlie has a few ‘love handles’. On an average dog, this may be OK, but Charlie has had hip dysplasia, so it is crucial to keep him at a good weight to ease the stress on his joints.

I have fallen for those pleading labrador eyes many times and often thought ‘one more treat couldn’t hurt him right?’.  Charlie has mastered the art of pleading for food – sometimes he looks at you like “how could you be soooooo cruel? You can’t spare another few crumbs of that burger? What sort of person are you? How can you SLEEP at night?  I’m DYING of hunger.”  This is two minutes after he’s had his dinner.

Well, those crumbs can hurt.  It is estimated that up to 40% of American dogs are overweight.  We’ve all seen those awful photos of overweight dogs and I won’t repeat them here.  But suffice to say that an overweight dog can suffer with all sorts of physical issues, not to mention the impact on their quality of life.

*Sigh* I also have  a few love handles.  In my head, I think they’re kind of ‘cute’ and I am OK with them (I’m delusional that way), but I figure, if Charlie is going to lose some weight, I could too.  So I’ve done a bit of research and here are some tips on how to get skinny with your dog:

1. Pooch to 5k 

I love this concept.  There are many ‘couch to 5k programs’ and this is the doggy version.  You start incrementally building short runs into your walk, over a number of weeks, until you and your dog can comfortable run 5k.  Check out the website for more information: Pooch to 5k.   Don’t have a dog? Call up your local shelter and see if you can walk or run one of their dogs regularly.

2. Stop giving in to the pleading eyes

OK, this is a really hard one.  No. More. Treats.  None.   I think Charlie trained me very well.  Sometimes I give him a treat for the ‘peace-and-quiet’ factor.  I want to just chill out, and there he is, begging for food, or doing small whingeing noises, and I think ‘Well, a rawhide chew will keep him busy for the next hour’ and I cave in, for selfish reasons.  He has trained me, by upping the ante with his whimpering/pleading until I cave.  Don’t fall for it!

Also, stop giving  table scraps.  At dinner time, your dog needs to sit on his bed until you’re finished.  This has been the hardest thing for me. I almost feel we should have a support group for dog owners who can’t say ‘no’ to their dogs.  “Weak-willed People Anonymous” or something.  STAY STRONG PEOPLE!

3.  Feed less

This one’s not rocket science.  Feed less than what the food package tells you (they always overestimate the food requirements for dogs).  Feed at fixed times (no ‘grazing’).  For us, we’ve found the best way to get Charlie to lose weight is to actually halve his food, but it really depends on what you’re feeding and your type of dog.  Ask your vet for advice.

4. Mix up the exercise and move more

If you’re always going for that 30 minute walk around the block, take your dog to parks where they can run free for a bit.  Also, increase the walk duration, or go twice a day if needed.

Do you have any tips for a fit, slim dog (and dog-owner)? Have you successfully made your dog lose weight? Are you struggling with an overweight dog?  Talk to me!

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6 thoughts on “The Skinny On Losing Weight With Your Dog

  1. Our rule is no table scraps etc in the kitchen ever. I don’t like dogs getting underfoot when people are cooking, or schmoozing visitors at the table! We do sometimes put some of our food scraps in her dinner at her normal meal time. We had the opposite problem of her being underweight for the first few months, so she got lots of brown carbs added in – pasta, wholemeal bread etc – she *loved* it so she turns the pleading eyes on when she smells toast now, but we’re standing strong!
    I use lots of little treats when clicker training, but for a dog that has any weight issues, I’d take that out of their meal allowance so it wasn’t a problem.
    My last dog lived till she was nearly 17 and more than one vet commented she had arthritis that would have caused serious problems for other dogs, but because her weight was right and she was being exercised gently within her range of movement every day, she didn’t even need medication. I think we just have to keep reminding ourselves over and over that it is cruel to cave in to a dog that begs, not kind!
    I love the idea of pooch to 5k!

  2. I’m inspired by your strength! Charlie was pleading for rawhide chews tonight and I stood strong and steady! If I start thinking of it as ‘giving treats is cruel rather than kind’, I think that will motivate me to stay strong. 🙂

  3. At one point, a few years ago, both our JRTs got a little heavier than they should as I had a habit of over-estimated the amount of grub they should’ve been having. So we always weigh out every meal now. With our lurcher, we actually had the opposite problem and couldn’t get the weight on her; the vet said she was just one of those dogs who was super slim, even for a sight hound, for no good reason! We finally have her up to the right weight now though 😀

    • Weighing out meals is a great idea. I feed my dogs raw, and sometimes it can be hard to ‘eyeball’ how much they should eat (dry food is easier because you have measuring cups). The raw food has been great for the teeth/ears/coat, but not so amazing for weight because I don’t think I’m measuring their food properly. Btw, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a fat lurcher 🙂

  4. I have a Shih Tzu, When we go for walks she always trails behind me. When she first came to me she gained weight quickly. Coming out of a Puppy Mill all I could think of was what she had been denied her whole life and spoiled her rotten. Then summer came and it was time to get the short haircut and I realized how much weight she gained! Now we walk, play fetch (she chases but doesn’t bring it back) and there’s a measuring scoop in the dog food bag.
    Nice website!

    • Thanks! Small dogs can put on weight so easily. I can’t tell you the number of overweight pugs I’ve seen on the streets of Melbourne. And, especially with rescued dogs, there is a tendency for us to want to ‘make it up’ to them by overfeeding them. Good on you for realising this and doing something about it!

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