Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

We Are Not Whales

by User Not Found | Apr 28, 2012

Whales are amazing animals.  They migrate great distances to breed and focus loads of energy on making baby whales.  Food is stored in a layer underneath their skin composed of fat-filled cells and functions both to insulate and store food reserves for breeding season.  During non-breeding seasons they can eat to store enough food for an entire year.  Despite the availability of buffets, grocery stores and the like, we are not whales.


Time for another one of my kicks, collective sigh, I can’t help it people.  At least give me some credit for attacking a rather sensitive subject with such gusto.  Two dogs recently joined NRGRR and began a fury of madness in my little otherwise golden loving heart.  The words 30-40 pounds overweight sent me right over the edge.  Abuse.  There is no other word for it, this is just cruel and well, abusive.  The sad part about this is, over 50% of American pets are overweight and this is not a dog problem, it’s a people problem.  I suppose that the fact that Americans have followed a weight gaining trend is no coincidence.  Now don’t go attacking me, this is an effort to help us all, pets and people alike.  Just bear with me, after all, I did just tell you, you’re not a whale.


Maybe it snuck up on you.  Maybe it was a gradual process that was so much so that you didn’t notice it and one day you woke up and dang, your dog is fat.  Or maybe you don’t understand what it means for your dog to be overweight.  How do you know?  An appropriate weight for a dog includes several things.  1. You can feel the ribs with just a slight amount of pressure.  2. You should see a waist, both from the side and from the top of your dog looking down.  3. His attitude.  This last one you easily know best.  Does he/she like to walk?  How far?  Is it more or less than last year?  Is breathing difficult?  Can they walk?  You laugh but I’m not kidding, for once.  Some dogs are so fat, they can’t walk.  What’s worse is that the owners think they are a lost cause and drop them at a shelter to be put to sleep.  There are very few lost causes in the world of obesity and as much as we hate to hear the word diet ourselves, helping your pet lose weight involves some very easy changes.  Dog obesity comes with a host of problems; Osteoarthritis, diabetes, increased blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, skin conditions and pancreatitis (usually caused by table scraps), heart problems.  Not only are these serious problems, they also are expensive to treat.  So now you have increased cost and your pet may be in pain, sad, or just feel like crap.  Now aren’t a few simple changes worth the positives of having a healthy dog?  Like decreased pain and increased life expectancy and my word of the day, increased Vitality.  The following is a definition of vitality for you scientists that don’t fancy English.  1. Exuberant strength or mental vigor. 2.  Capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence.  3. Power to live or grow.  Now that sounds like what I want for my furkids!


So what about those changes?  Let’s talk about snacks, treats, cookies, or whatever they are at your house.  A typical dog biscuit has as many calories as two double stuffed fudge cookies.  Now imagine if you are giving those 3-4 times a day, that’s 8 cookies a day.  Yikes!  We all love to give treats, but we must do so in moderation.  This goes for chewy things like pig ears too.  Ok to give as a special treat, but not every day.  Better choices for treats include carrots, bananas, apples, blueberries, green beans, sweet potato (cooked without butter or seasonings).  I mash up a banana inside a Kong toy and freeze it, makes for a great treat that takes them some time to get thru.  Be sure to avoid dangerous foods like grapes and raisins and again, all good things in moderation.  Stay away from the table scraps, please.  In most cases these are foods that can make your dog really sick and those sad eyes looking at you, they will be even sadder when they have to stay in the hospital without you.  Double Bonus Round:  By avoiding table scraps and feeding from the table, you also avoid unwanted begging behavior.


Ok, now for food.  If you read the “recommended” amounts on a bag of dog food, you might laugh out loud.  I mean, if I was a dog food manufacturer, I would want you to eat more food so you could buy more and so on and so on.  The faster you eat it, the more often you have to buy it right?  Sadly, for unsuspecting victims, we ASSume that they are actually telling us what is good for our dogs.  Every dog is different and so is their metabolism.  To put this in perspective, you may be surprised to know that I feed my meatloaf, I mean Gus, the 85 pound male golden the same amount of food as my 52 pound speedy gonzales golden.  Another good rule to follow is to measure your dog’s food.  Don’t just scoop some out and put it in a bowl, use a measuring cup.  It’s also a good idea to have planned meal times, rather than let your dog snack all day.  Most dogs can’t regulate their food consumption well and let’s face it, you’ll likely lose track of how many times you’ve filled the bowl.  Recruit the help of your vet and friends to get an idea of how much you should be feeding and then watch your dog to make sure they aren’t gaining or loosing too much.  Exercise!  You can’t bring up any topic on a dog without talking about exercise.  It means a happier dog for a host of reasons, but keeping them in shape physically is no exception.  I know you’re tired, but just do it, just take them for a walk, it’s that simple.  Summer time is tough here in North Carolina, but swimming is awesome for joints and it makes for great summer time activity.  Side note, swimming often does not require you to do any physical activity (*wink).


I’m not going to abandon you in your time of need.  You’ve realized your dog may be a bit more plump than they should be and you want to help!  I have three words for you, green bean diet.  You will not be putting your dog on some crazy trendy Hollywood diet, don’t worry.  The main premise behind the green bean diet is to fill up your dog’s belly without giving them all of their regular food, i.e. substitute kibble for calorie free green beans.  You can purchase canned green beans at wholesale clubs in big cans to save money, just be sure to rinse them first if they are not salt free.  You can also use fresh green beans, just make sure you cut them up into bite sized pieces.  Starting with substituting half of the regular food with green beans is a good place to start.  If you feed 1 cup at meal time, you would feed ½ cup of kibble and ½ cup of green beans.  As your dog starts to lose weight and get closer to his/her healthy new waistline, you can slowly transition back to all kibble.  Depending on how much weight your pup has to loose, this may take more than a few weeks, but you’ll notice the positive changes in your dog’s attitude much sooner and it will be so worth it!  Remember, only healthy treats, especially during this time.


Ok let’s summarize. 

  1. Feed treats in moderation and try to substitute those calorie filled milk bones with safe fruits and veggies.
  2. Be wary of dog food recommendations on bags of dog food.  Measure the food and use set meal times.
  3. Exercise!
  4. If you’re dog has gained a few pounds and would benefit from being a bit lighter, use the “Green Bean Diet”.  It’s a great way to take extra pounds off your dog safely.
  5. If none of these things work, be sure to talk to your vet about underlying conditions that may be preventing your dog from losing weight, like thyroid problems.
  6. You can’t love your dog through food especially in the form of table scraps, remember they are not whales.
  7. Remember there is no lost cause when it comes to obese dogs!!!





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