Beware the Flabrador, my friends.

When Martha was a puppy, I took her to the vet for regular check-ups and weigh-ins.  I first met her when she was only four weeks old, and brought her home at eight weeks.  I was so excited to watch her grow up and gain weight.  She was such a beautiful, healthy puppy.

So you can imagine my surprise and embarrassment when the vet gently informed me that Martha’s remarkable weight gain had gone a bit too far.  She  was getting fat.  It was then I learned that certain breeds are especially predisposed to weight gain.  Martha was becoming a Flabrador.  What do to?

Changes in diet and exercise help both dogs and humans to lose weight.  The techniques are not mysterious or difficult.  This article about dog weight loss covers the basics.   Martha learned to love a wide variety of vegetables, including bell peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and leftover salad (with dressing, no onions or croutons, thank you.)  I learned (in consultation with the vet) that she could be perfectly happy and well nourished while eating about half or less of the recommended portion size on the dog food bag.  The biggest challenge I faced was learning how to resist those soft brown eyes and that sweet face looking up at me whenever food was anywhere around.  Drooling was even worse.  With practice, however, you, too can learn how to resist such a beggar.  No matter how much he tries to convince you otherwise,  your dog is really not in danger of starvation.  Just say no.  And stop looking!

Keeping Martha slim has been a work in progress.  She’s at her ideal weight now, at nine years old, and I know that makes it easier for her to get around and stay active.  One of the greatest risks for older dogs is excess weight gain placing a burden on the dog’s circulation, breathing, and mobility.  Any tendency to arthritis, dysplasia, or muscle weakness is made much worse by excess weight.  The challenge of keeping your dog fit and trim is well worth the health benefits.  If we could only manage to take such good care of ourselves.

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2 Replies to “Beware the Flabrador, my friends.”

  1. I too have a Flabador… It’s an on going battle with our female lab mix, Zeva. She is constantly “starving” and lets us know by surveying every inch under the table after we eat, looking for food or by banging her food dish against the tin that holds the dog food bag.
    She’s made begging an art form. She uses a very soft whimper to get our attention and then looks up at the dog treats, as if she has to remind us where they are.
    My husband is a much softer touch than I am but once he says, “Ask your mother”, Zeva knows it’s time to quit.
    I buy bags of frozen baby carrots so I always have healthy treats on hand and they’re nice on a hot day. The veggie you mention are excellent but before giving any human food to a dog, we need to be sure it’s not toxic. Onions and mushrooms come to mind.
    I read somewhere that if your dog is gaining weight, you are not getting enough exercise. I think walking the dog is the best form of exercise there is. We both benefit not only from a weight management stand point but from a bonding one as well.
    Good luck with keeping Martha trim and fit. She’s a very lucky dog to have someone who cares so much about her health.
    Marie

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