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!