Thursday, May 14, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
When you have an overweight dog, this can affect their health in many ways. They can become diabetic, have heart issues, as well as develop arthritis or joint issues in later years. So as our pets’ care givers, we need to be aware of their weight and help them lose weight if they need to. When you have a dog that needs to lose weight, how do you go about it without making everybody’s life miserable?
When I first adopted Skye I thought she was too thin, unfortunately I needn’t have worried. Because of the medication Skye is on she is ravenous all the time, and I do mean all the time. I never thought I would be living with an animal that is food driven, and it was difficult in the beginning. You see, I had never lived with a “counter surfer” before and now have first hand knowledge of how crafty they can actually be.
Skye is a master at the art of “counter surfing,” and may have perfected things that I was too dense in the beginning to figure out on my own. After all, I assumed that “counter surfing” meant just that; stupid human. Skye has climbed on her crate to get to the cats’ food; she has climbed over gates to get to food in unopened bags and to get to the new bag of cat litter (I use wheat-based); all because of her hunger issues. The only saving grace in my house is that Skye hasn’t figured out how to get into either the refrigerator or the microwave yet. Don’t laugh; I have a friend with Labrador Retrievers who have learned how to open the refrigerator for their favorite pizza leftovers.
Not only that, how can we help our dogs to feel fuller and not feel the hunger that is driving them in the first place? This sounded tough to me until I began doing my homework, and I found lots of healthy things to add to Skye’s food that will not compromise the value of the food she was eating at the time, which was not CANIDAE®. I found a document on the USDA’s website, titled Nutrient Value of Foods, Home and Garden Bulletin #72. It has been an invaluable source of information. It shows caloric values for many kinds of foods: raw and cooked, as well as many commercially produced human foods. These caloric values will be the same for your dog as they would be for you.
I started experimenting with different vegetables, because Skye didn’t need any carbohydrates or sugars added to her diet. Vegetables were a good choice, because the body usually has to work harder to digest them, and Skye could actually lose weight having veggies added to her diet. Skye loves asparagus, green beans, peas, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, zucchini, summer, acorn and butternut squashes. We give her the rind of the squashes after we have scooped them out and she (and the cats) love them. We use butter on our squash, but don’t add anything to what we give Skye. I stay away from foods like corn or noodles, or anything that can add extra carbohydrates or sugars.
As an extra treat after I have exercised Skye sometimes I will give her fruit. While they do have sugars they are natural sugars, and I don’t give her enough to add too many calories to her diet. Skye’s favorite fruits are strawberries, bananas, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. Those are the only ones I’ve tried so far, but Skye continues to surprise me with her likes. I am happy to report that now that Skye is on the CANIDAE Grain Free All Life Stages, she is losing weight and we don’t seem to have the counter surfing issues that we had before.
Those of us who live with dogs that need to lose weight live with another quandary; how do we provide our dogs with a treat without adding to their weight, especially if they need to lose weight to start with? As to the treat, see my article on CANIDAE Snap Bits, a wonderful smaller treat, which is just fine to give your dog whether they are large or small, and doesn’t add much to their daily calorie count.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently