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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crippling with kindness

Lizzie is enjoying--or suffering from--"youngest child" syndrome.  Life's a lot easier for her than it was for our previous dogs who had to work for a living, trying to set good examples for all the other dogs in Central Washington.

More than a couple people have commented to Lizzie lately, "Say, girl, you're gettin' a tad porky."  Ouch!  Words to make any mother cringe!  I got her on the scale and discovered she'd gained about 5 pounds over the summer.  Not good, considering she has some hip concerns that will start haunting her in a few years.

How did it happen that my dog started gaining weight?  Too many treats, too many indulgences.  Too much pan-licking and pre-washing of dishes.  (Yes, those calories DO count!)

I'm pretty anal about my dogs' and horses' weight, and my own for that matter.  After four hip replacements, I know the toll that 20 extra pounds can take on a body's joints, even healthy ones.  Plus, keeping relatively trim will increase the quality of life for all of us (dogs, horses and people), allowing us to enjoy more activities for longer.

Is your dog overweight?  Never mind if you are.  At least do something about your dog.  Five extra pounds on a medium-size dog can shorten your dog's life span and cause aches and pains that he can't even tell you about.  Doling out excessive treats and overfeeding your dog is NOT a kindness, any more than slowly poisoning your best friend.  Be critical.  Can you feel your dog's ribs without poking him too hard?  If you can't, your dog is overweight.  He is short of breath, lacks stamina, has trouble getting up, and moves with effort that pounds his joints.  Some vets are too diplomatic to tell you your dog is fat.  They think it will offend you, and they're probably right most of the time.  The truth can hurt...but not as much as a bad joint that's had too much weight on it for too long.  Be honest with yourself.  If your dog needs to lose weight, help him do so by feeding him less and exercising him more.

He won't lose the weight in a week.  It will take him time to melt it off, just as it takes you time.  Barring any medical problems, your dog will lose weight by eating less and exercising more.  If your dog is eating a small amount of dog food and still not losing weight, perhaps he's finding food elsewhere.  Are others in the household sabotaging his diet?  Is he finding extra calories on  almost empty plates in the dishwasher rack?  Is he getting a whole dog cookie when a fourth of a dog cookie would work just as well?

Fortunately I know about Lizzie's potentially bad hip, so I can take measures now--like helping her lose weight--to keep her sound, healthy and happy for longer.  Even if she had good hips, I want her to be my agility partner for many more years.  If I let her get fat, it won't happen.  She may want the whole cookie...but it's my job to know what's best for her, and to see that she gets it.


Melissa ~ A BumbleBaby Mommy said...

I remember having to put the cat on a diet once. That dear kitty lost 5 lbs in a year - and was back to a healthy 14 lbs. It took a long time but I know it made him feel better.

Now that you mention it, Bear seems to be growing around her middle too.

Barb Hoffman said...

Jan, another trick we have used....
we fill a cup with Jack's daily allowance. Then if he needs a
'cookie' we just take a few pieces of his daily allowance and give him that.
It has helped keep his weight under control. He is a little dog, although extremely active, and it is amazing how little food they need.
As always, enjoy learning from your messages.

Jan said...

Barb, that's a GREAT idea!!!!