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.