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I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. But that’s never been my speciality.



I have a 3-year-old Yorkie-Shi-Tzu mix (Suzy) and I’m having a tough time trying to find the right food. She weighs around 8 pounds (she actually weighed in at 7.6 today/after poop). I’d like to have her lose 1/2 a pound or maybe a full pound but it’s hard as she’s currently restricted from exercising like she used to (she’s almost 8 weeks post-op from a Lateral Suture needed for her torn ACL/CCL, may or may not need the other leg operated). She’s not visibly overweight or anything, but losing a little bit would help not put so much pressure on her poor joints.


Her food history is a little complicated. She was eating a homemade diet (boiled chicken, brown rice, minced carrots and zucchini) for a while. She absolutely loved it. I thought this was the right choice as I knew what exactly was going in it, but I cut that all out of her diet about 2 months ago as I was advised it’s probably not the best diet for a dog needing to lose or maintain her weight (as I'm unsure of the exact calories). I was also educated on the importance of dry food towards dental health, which had also influenced my decision (she's never had any dental health issues). I cut out all unnecessary treats, all she gets now is her 1 Flexadin Plus a day (joint supplement treat prescribed by the vet). I then started feeding her Purina Beneful Incredibites. I took a week mixing it with her wet food (slowly adding less of the wet), and she loved it. Took some getting used to. 2 weeks ago, after not seeing any minor weight loss (and overthinking a ton), I decided to switch her to a weight management food: Royal Canin X-Small Weight Care Dry Dog Food. We had a week of mixing the two, introducing it slowly. She definitely preferred the taste of the Purina food towards the RC. This week she's only been on the RC. She doesn’t seem to like it at all. She’ll eat some, but not nearly enough. I literally have to feed her by hand sometimes (I'll pretend to eat a kibble in front of her and act all satisfied, this usually does the trick). She does eventually eat it, but she's not eating nearly enough for her recommended weight/activity level (3/4 cup / 6TBSP per meal twice a day). For dinner, I'll use finely diced carrots as a mixer, and this usually helps (though I'm not entirely sure the calorie count of a carrot; I hope that this fills in the gaps for her daily dose). She's like a bunny. She loves her carrots.


I very recently did some more research on her former Purina food (aside from their website reviews I only read initially). I’m realizing there’s been a lot of issues with this food, and I definitely don’t want to keep feeding it to her. I’m now contemplating also ditching the weight care food, or trying to mix it with something else. I just want to find a dry food that she'll eat, immediately, and feel satisfied. She's losing weight which is great, but I worry that she's not getting enough calories, and I sometimes worry she's pissed off at me (for feeding her this bland mix).


I’ve just read about the Royal Canin Yorkie Dry Food and I'm starting to consider a mix or a switch. It has a lower calorie count than the Purina food (Per Cup: RC Yorkie: 338; Purina: 368; RC Weight Care: 262). I’m wondering if that would be decent enough to feed on its own, or if I should mix that with her weight care blend. It mentions that it's designed for picky eaters, which is her in a nutshell. My concern is her being a mix. She's not just a Yorkie; she's a Shi Tzu, too. I'm worried that by feeding her a food designed for pure-bred Yorkie's, it could cause issues concerning her Shi Tzu side. Royal Canin also makes dry food for Shi Tzu's, but the calorie count is (355).


I’m looking for advice.
  • Are there any dangers of feeding a dog a half/half dry food diet? (Weight Care/Yorkie Blend)
  • Would having the Yorkie Blend (or any other dry food) make the Weight Care food redundant? (Cancelling out the Weight Care's ingredients that help with weight loss)?
  • Does it sound logical for me to be considering a switch, or should I just maintain what I have now?
  • Does anyone have any other dry food recommendations? I'm open to anything with reason.

I’m so sorry for all my questions and any unnecessary lengthy explanations. I'm a 21-year-old first-time dog owner (I've had cats all my life and they are way less complicated in my experience). With all the recent stress from her operation, I'm overthinking about everything. I just wanna do what's best for my baby girl.

Regarding Vet Advice: I do not have the best relationship with my vet. I deeply appreciate her for all she has done, but she's not great with communication (which is something I value deeply). She gets the job done and that's good enough for me, for now. The surgeon, on the other hand, has been wonderful. But he specializes in orthopaedics, I don't believe he can give me advice for food. My vet told me that she needed to lose weight. But gave me no recommendations for this whatsoever. I've been trying to switch to the vet my aunt goes to, but they're currently not taking in any new clients due to the pandemic.
 

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Short and sweet isn't my speciality either. :)

This is just me, and unlike you I'm an old broad. I've only had 9 dogs from a puppy, counting both purebreds I bought and rescued mixes who stayed with me, but I did rescue for 10 years and fostered and helped out for another 5. That means a lot of dogs have crossed my threshold. Keep in mind, though, none were small dogs. They were all Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes (did have an Akita at your age and one after that).

For what it's worth, after all those dogs:

Scaring you off the homemade diet was wrong. You should have had advice instead on how to balance what wasn't a balanced diet. If you wanted to continue feeding homemade you'd need to study up on dog nutrition or have a dog nutritionist formulate a balanced diet for you. The idea kibble cleans their teeth is just plain wrong. Crunching kibble isn't enough to clean teeth. That takes chewing bones or some other kinds of chews. Also, dogs are like people. Some are blessed with good teeth and have pearly whites into old age no matter what they're fed. Some are not blessed and need their teeth cleaned no matter what they're fed, no matter if their teeth are brushed. My understanding is small dogs tend to have more dental problems. Dogs fed raw with bones do have a clean-teeth edge, but I've seen raw-fed dogs with tartar build up.

In my experience the average vet doesn't know much about nutrition except, "What I sell is good." Years ago a vet who was a friend told me selling high-end kibble was a good part of his income. I think that's changed some, and I think more vets are paying attention to canine and feline nutrition, but I wouldn't assume a vet's expertise in that field.

I sincerely doubt your small dog and my large dogs have different nutritional needs except for amount and size of a kibble. There are a few breeds that have some specific needs. I vaguely remember something to do with copper for Bedlington Terriers and feeding or not feeding something or other because of bladder stones in Dalmatians, but I've sure never seen anything convincing about particular diets for each breed. Rotties are German so they need to eat sauerbraten? Akitas are Japanese, so they need sushi? It strikes me kind of like the idea people need to eat according to their blood type. Of course, some people believe that.

My personal experience with dogs and weight is that weight-loss foods make for dry, straw-like coats. You do better to feed a non-diet food that's not too high in fat and pay attention to calories. You can find out the calorie value of any dog food. Many have it printed on the bag these days and for those that don't, you can often find it online. If all else fails, call the manufacturer. Just like people, when a dog gets less calories, they lose weight. So pick a good food your dog likes and feed it in the amount that gives the right amount of calories for weight loss. Don't forget to figure treats into the total. If you think your dog is never satisfied, try adding some cooked green beans for a bit of low-cal bulk.

You can find evaluations of dog food on Dog Food Advisor and sign up for recall alerts. My dogs are both on raw now, but if I were looking for a kibble, because of the maybe correlation of health problems with grain-free foods, if I had a dog that didn't have allergies to grains, I'd look for a decent kibble with a grain component, but not a bunch of grains and not grain as the first ingredient.

Good luck. Don't worry so much. If you can even hold the line on weight while a dog's on crate rest, you're doing well, and it's hard to screw up a healthy adult dog with diet. The common way to hurt a dog with food is to overfeed and let the dog get obese, and you're already making sure that won't happen to Suzy. I don't envy you the cruciate repair rehab. Done that all too many times and hope never to do it again.
 

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I'd pick a reasonably good quality small bites dry food with at least 25% protein and at least 15% fat. I would feed starting at the mid point of the recommended amount for her target weight.

Look for a food with a named meat meal as the first ingredient, a named meat or meat meal as the second ingredient. I prefer grain inclusive. (Meat in this case also means fish and poultry sources).

You can use a small amount of a canned food as a topper/mix-in to entice her to eat if needed, a teaspoon should be enough for smell and flavor. Or just some warm water to make the food smellier.

Not sure what brands are easily available to you in order to recommend any.
 

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Yes, I read it all. The advice on the home made diet was correct as it lacks minerals and there is NO Calcium/Phosphorus. Most RAW diets (I feed RAW) include ground bone. They also include GREEN tripe (not the clean tripe in the super market) which adds fiber and helps with Ca/P as well as establishing and maintaining healthy gut bacteria. RAW is a whole different world and the dogs do better on it IMO but your question was about kibble.

I feed one meal of kibble to my older dog. She wants it, so in the morning that is what she gets. She gets Tractor Supply 4 Health and not grain free (since most grain free now has a pea base and the pea base boosts crude protein but reduces digestible protein). I choose something (if I can find it) with a rice base and try to avoid peas for that reason.

Kibble does NOTHING for dental health. Kibble actually STICKS to teeth and causes trouble. To keep teeth clean I give my dogs raw bones (non weight bearing). For a small dog you can use neck bones from the store. I use rib bones.

Feeding canned with kibble was never a problem when I did this in the past. I mixed it up and added a little water and we were off to the races. In your case you need to make the meals smaller so the dog loses weight.

In the end, the answer isn't so much what you are feeding but how much. If your current feeding is not reducing the dog's weight, cut the amount by 1/3 and re-weigh in a week. If weight is not coming off, reduce the amount of food by another 1/4 and reweigh in 10 days. You will have to measure your food now in order to cut it back and then keep on measuring it so you know how much the dog is eating.

I would not keep changing things up. It just makes it more difficult to figure out what exactly is the right amount to feed. Use something the dog likes and then just reduce the amount you feed until you achieve weight loss.. then you have to figure out if that is right to maintain the correct weight or if the dog is continuing to lose. At some point you need to know what measure of food to maintain the correct weight. When the dog is no longer on crate rest and becomes more active the maintenance amount of food needed may change.
 
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