My grandmother and I had a conversation this weekend about our dogs’ health. She had mentioned to me that her dog, Allie, was back on her diet. I asked the question I was dreading asking, “How much does Allie weight now?”
Allie is an Australian Cattle Dog of low to medium activity. Ideally she should be 50-55 pounds. As my grandmother put it: 59 pounds is overweight, 69 pounds is ridiculous! Then she looked me dead in the eye and told me “I’m killing my dog.”
I meet lots of dogs, some (if not most) are overweight. A few owners might admit that they are overfeeding their dogs, a few more might even admit to that it affects their dog’s health. I’ve never had anyone admit that they are killing their dog with food, which is what happens. Just like with people, a dog being beyond the ideal weight causes a bevy of health issues. It increases the risk of diabetes, heart, liver, and kidney disease. Carrying extra weight can cause arthritis. I’ve seen dogs that have breathing issues when they lie on their sides because of the weight on their chests.
It isn’t a sign of a good life. Falling prey to the sad, begging face does your dog no favors. I liken it to letting your child eat chocolate cake when they want. They might like you because of it, but it shows an immaturity on your part.
Are you more worried that your dog likes you, or for their health?
So, what do you do?
Measure the food! Don’t just put a scoop and hope for the best. You can buy cheap measuring cups from the dollar store. I read the recommended serving on the food bag and usually I cut it down by 1/4 cup. Adjust the food amount based on activity level.
Cut back on treats. I know it is hard. Kato is a treat monster. I measure out the number of treats he can have in a day and work it into his nutritional plan. If you are going to be giving out more treats (training day, or a trip to grandma’s house) then reduce your dog’s food for that day. He’ll be fine, I promise!
Amp up the activity. I’m lucky that Kato is a high activity dog. He is easy to play with and sometimes he entertains himself! Some dogs like walks, some like wrestling and playing hand to paw. Whatever your dog likes to do, do more of it. And if their activity is “eating food as fast as possible” make it a game. There are plenty of feeding games you can play.
Don’t give up. Or fall back into old routines. A permanent change might take time so as I like to say “Persistence pays off!”
Allie is on her diet. She gets one cup of food a day and two treats, plus she gets playtime with Kato (he is her personal trainer). Hopefully soon she’ll be fit and feeling much better.