Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Slimming Down Your Chubby Dog

Chris Walkowicz
Home Again Newletter May 2010

Hayley was becoming a chubbette. No doubt about it. She was not the svelte blonde that Carl had fallen in love with. He still loved her, of course, but he could see a definite pad of fat around her waist. In fact, he couldn’t see a waist at all. As Carl looked down at his Cocker Spaniel, he saw that her hourglass figure was just a faded memory.

“We’ve got to do something about this, Hayley. It’s time for us both to shape up!”
So after sharing one last dish of ice cream, Carl and Hayley discussed the problem with her veterinarian.

“I can’t do anything for you, Carl,” the veterinarian said. “But I can tell you what to do for Hayley.”

The funny thing is, Hayley’s weight loss program was the same as Carl’s: eat sensibly and increase daily exercise. It’s easy to put on weight when we choose “Dancing with the Stars” over dancing with the dog.

Once your veterinarian finds your dog to be in good health, discuss the proper amount of daily dog food you should be feeding her. Your veterinarian might suggest putting your dog on a light diet. Keep a record of what your dog eats during the day – it’s often more than just the breakfast and dinner you think you’re feeding her!

Don’t forget that she helps you finish your egg and toast every morning. And then there’s the toy stuffed with peanut butter that she loves to play with when you leave the house. There’s also that special treat she receives when you return home, the cheese snacks you share at night, and licking out the last few tablespoons you leave for her in your ice cream bowl. That’s a lot of extra calories in a day.

Substitute raw veggies for snacks. Dogs love them! Try all sorts of crunchy foods, such as tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, celery, and especially carrots. You can also break an occasional treat in half or remove a handful of kibble from her measured meal and dole pieces out over the day. Some people foods, such as onions or raw potatoes, aren’t safe for dogs, so discuss healthy snacks with your veterinarian.

Plan a daily exercise routine, which can be as simple as tossing a ball or taking walks, and then gradually extend the length of your activity time. Or you can try a new and exciting activity, such as the canine sport of Agility, where both owner and dog try to complete an obstacle course within a time limit. Your dog will look forward to training sessions, and the bonus is that you might run off a few pounds too! If you choose to try Agility you can enter events to attain a title, or just enjoy the training together.

Dancing with your dog in a canine sport called Freestyle is more than just a fanciful trot around the living room. You can teach your dog to twirl, weave between your legs, and jump through your arms just for fun or to actually choreograph a routine for a Freestyle competition.

When storms keep both of you indoors, you can invent ways to keep your dog healthy and in A-1 shape. Toss a soft ball or a favorite toy down a hallway or even up and down a set of stairs. Set up barricades for her to jump in your basement or hallway.

And remember, the best treat of all is a hug from the person she adores. Zero calories!

Chris Walkowicz is an award-winning author, President Emeritus of Dog Writers Association of America, and an AKC judge.

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