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Discussion Starter #1
I've developed some bad habits with my dog that have resulted in her gaining a lot of weight. I was really surprised how much weight she has packed on but I should have realized it was happening. I would like to get the excess weight off of her as quickly as possible but without stressing her out. She has a deformed hind leg from a break that healed on it's own (no I was not in the picture at that point) and I'd like to take pressure off of those joints. She also has a recessed vulva that is getting infected because of the extra weight.

I used to play frisbee with her as a younger dog and stopped because her reactivity was so extreme. I thought that the intense exercise was amplifying her reactivity. I put her on a vacation that has lasted a few years now. She's been on Prozac for a couple of years and I guess that is probably part of the problem as well. I don't think she can manage without the drug however.

She has become accustomed to laying next to me while I eat dinner and I always throw her little morsels of food. Should I taper away from this behavior slowly or feed her something low in calories that will prevent her from getting frustrated. These bad habits started off well intentioned in rewarding a place and relaxed position but have slid into thoughtless patterns.

Even walking is a challenge because triggers will quickly stack and before you know it, her tail is tucked and she can barely respond to me. I'm thinking some activity in the backyard combined with a feeding strategy would work. I'm open to any suggestions. Does anyone have experience in taking weight off of a dog?

Thanks,
Dan
 

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First off, a thorough vet check, including a thyroid panel, needs to be done, to ensure there isn't something metabolic going on.

If it turns out to be simply more calories going in than being used, you need to change the equation around. Starting with diet, consider switching to a lower calorie food. Since she already has a liking for human food, green beans make a healthy, low calorie treat. To help with the mindless feeding from the table, try setting up a small dish of them next to your plate.

Walk around the back yard, if she has trouble with the outside world. If she will still play fetch, try rolling a ball or frisbee for her to chase down (just go easy, and don't got for a lot of distance and/or repetitions). Doing conditioning work (again, vet check first) can help.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks a lot for the reply LeoRose!

I just had her at the vet and wish I would have requested a blood draw. Taking her to the vet is incredibly stressful for me. I have to muzzle her and give her trazadone and it's not a pleasant experience. I'll get her back in.

I'm sure she will still play with a ball or disc. I guess I'll switch to some low calorie food. I feed her canned blue buffalo and I know they make a more expensive weight loss variety. Thanks for the green bean idea.
 

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While I agree that a vet check is good, I cannot think of any health issues where cutting back on treats and scraps from human foods would be a problem.

So I would start that immediately. No food from the table or scraps from your plate. If there is a healthy item that you wish to treat her with, cut out an equal amount of calories from her food. With the caution of not swapping more than 20% or so of calories from the balanced dry or canned food for human food.

I would not feed a diet food personally and not Blue Buffalo in general.

I would buy a small or sample bag of a different flavor good dog food, like a fish flavor maybe since its smelly, and use that for treats from the table. Since it would be a balanced food, it can swap 1:1 for calories of her canned food meals. Remember to consider calories and not volume or weight when looking at dry vs canned food.

Try some low key games in the yard to get her moving without much joint impact. For example, take that kibble and walk to different parts of the yard and call her to you and feed a few pieces. Ask for a long stay, reward. Then call to another area etc to get her moving around.

These training sessions should count as meals, not in addition to her meals ! Thats why to use a balanced food as a treat.

Slow but steady weight loss should be the goal.
 

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Canned or kibble are both good. Canned gets expensive for larger dogs and not as useful for feeding small portions as treats/rewards.

There are lots of good foods, I have just not been impressed with BB and have observed ( and had other people I know say the same ) that dogs seem to have more digestive upset on BB.

Some brands I like include Victor, Pro Pac, Fromms (the classic/grain inclusives), Purina Pro Plan (not the lower tiers of Purina), Earthborn Holistic grain inclusive line

Problem IMO with weight loss foods is too low protein and fat in an effort to lower calories per cup
 

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I'm with Shell in thinking diet dog foods are not a good idea. If you read labels, you can find a food not labeled diet that will have just as low a fat content, and all you need is a quality food with lower fat content than what you've been feeding. You are right to try for a reasonable loss rate that doesn't stress your dog. Just like people trying to get weight off too fast just ends up provoking food crazies, and it sounds like merely cutting out the over-generous table scraps would make a considerable difference for your girl.
 

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low impact activites, such as walking around your home, or tossing toys in the house.

if you can find stairs, a few of those could be good.

things such as wobble boards, and peanuts work great for muscle building - FitPAWS | Experts in Fitness, Conditioning and Canine Rehab

I have a few walking trails with lakes closed off from the rest of the world (reactive dog owner here, too) and I let my dog wade in the water during the summer. also helpful for weight loss.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all of the helpful advice.
Shell, now that you mention it, my dog does frequently exhibit behaviors that indicate problems with digestion. She will lip lick like she's going to vomit or cry and push me to take her outside so that she can eat grass. Normally I discourage her from eating grass, but I'm guessing she is eating it to trigger vomiting or calm her stomach. I guess I trusted too much in a brand name and assumed that the cost meant quality.

I'll try to post her weight loss journey, if anyone wants to see it.
 

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With her bad leg, I'd be cautious about high-impact exercises, as those can be hard on even healthy joints. These include things like running/biking with the dog on a hard surface like asphalt, anything involving repeated jumping (like catching a frisbee in the air or agility hurdles), and having the dog go up and down stairs excessively. These might be okay with her, but you'll want to clear it with her vet, veterinary chiropractor, or canine rehab specialist who can evaluate her current condition and determine what's safe for her leg.

Generally speaking, low-impact exercise like wading and swimming is excellent for weight loss! You could also try taking part of her daily meal allowance and hiding it around the yard, so she has to move and sniff for it to eat. This does triple duty, because it's gentle activity, but it also engages her brain and promotes sniffing, which is a naturally calming behavior in dogs. Slow and steady is definitely the way to go - just like with humans, fast weight loss can be dangerous.

Definitely follow up on checking her thyroid, especially if you don't see changes in her weight even with a change in diet and lifestyle. I totally understand it being difficult with her being so stressed at the vet's, but as Shell said, reasonable diet and exercise adjustments shouldn't be harmful in the meantime if you can't get her in right away.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks a lot for all of the thoughtful responses. I've gained a lot of valuable information from this post.

Her leg never presented a noticeable problem for her in her youth. Now, with 20lbs extra weight I imagine it could. When I was ignorant about dog behavior and training I would throw discs for her in a field and admire her speed and intensity and then wonder why she had diarrhea after we played. I became informed that the exercise was too much and contributing to her reactivity and aggression and stopped all together. She was really lean and muscular but completely out of control psychologically.

Nowadays she's found her safe, fat , happier place but it's also heading towards an unhealthy direction. I'll implement these
suggested activities and see how quickly I can get her back down.

Thanks again,
Dan
 

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Have you ever tried puzzle toys with her? You could stick her meals in them and it would take up a good part of her day with mental stimulation. They have some really great ones, with all different levels. I have a tripawd foster dog, so I'm mindful to keep her weight light. If I were in a country where we could find such things, I would have a stack of these puzzles. As it is, I have a stuffable Kong and am contemplating building my own puzzle toys... :rolleyes:
 
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