I own a 4 1/2 year old, neutered, mix breed (lab/border collie possibly?), who is overweight, at 75 pounds. We currently feed Wellness Core Reduced Fat grain-free food; he receives 0.75 cups twice daily (a total 1.5 cups daily). I used the calculator online, and it recommends that he receive 2.6 cups daily… this seems like a lot of food! We feed green beans or carrots (raw) as treats/snacks, and occasionally receives 2-4 medium-size milk bone biscuits daily.
Looking for recommendations as our vet says he’s “too fat”, and wants to do a prescription food/diet, however, he is very finicky and does best on a grain-free diet (vomiting/diarrhea on grains or rich foods). When we reduce his food any lower, he is constantly bugging us (bring food dish, banging food dish, or sitting by us and whimpering), letting us know that he’s hungry.
Is he getting enough exercise? Long walks? Maybe increase the amount of walks…..
Anyway you can take him swimming? Some vet clinics offer aqua therapy (swimming in a heated pool) if you have pet insurance and your vet orders it for weight loss, it may be covered.
One minute of swimming is equal to 4 minutes of running and it’s easy on the joints.
Exercise improves mood, decreases pain (release of endorphins) and therefore reduces hunger that may be caused due to boredom or discomfort.
Unfortunately, he’s not extremely active his time of year… unless you count jumping through the snow and climbing snow banks briefly to go out and pee/poop. During the summer, he gets roughly an hour of walking, several short walks, and 15 minutes of chasing/playing ball. He also spends quite a bit of time out on our deck wrestling with our 6 year old ESS.
Sounds good, I know what you are talking about. My dogs get less exercise this time of year too.
Has he had lab work to rule out thyroid issues or other medical conditions that would cause him to gain weight?
Other than trying the prescription food, I don’t see what you could do. I would hesitate to decrease the amount of food. You could presoak about half of the kibble in the fridg overnight, it expands and gets all puffy and so they think they are getting more food 🙂
2-4 Milkbones each day add up quickly and those treats are not low calorie. Is there a reason hes getting so many of them? You will probably see a decrease in weight if you remove those from his diet or even just offer less of them. These are the types of things that will be need to be eliminated from his diet if you can not increase his excersize.
Also make sure when using the calculator you are putting in what weight he should be, not what weight he is and selecting “Overweight”
I agree with Pitluv on the treats.. Look for smaller, lower calorie treats or use some fresh green beans.
For treats, try raw carrots. Dogs seem to really like them & they’re really good for them. Green beans (even the frozen kind) are great, too. If you want to try a food that ISN’T from a vet – REALLY try it – do a google search for Verus pet food. They’ll send you free samples. They have a couple of flavors/formulas & they stay on top of doggy nutritional needs.
PS – we just stopped Milk-Bones ‘cold-turkey’. They’re easy but they’re really not worth the heartache caused by the low-quality ingredients. You can also do a google search for homemade dog treats if your dog needs variety.
Thanks for the recommendations! We spoke with our vet, who recommended against our current feeding regimen; saying it may be too small of a portion, causing him to go into starvation mode. She recommended checking into other limited ingredient dog foods that are not necessarily grain free, and trialing that…. any recommendations?
I like Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea or Dogswell Vitality or Dogswell grain free, or Dogswell Happy Hips https://www.chewy.com/dogswell-happy-hips-chicken-oats/dp/42571
I use the kibble as a base, I add about 1/3 topper, a bite of scrambled egg, or cooked chopped chicken, hamburger, something. Don’t forget, add a splash of water. Most dogs (especially seniors) don’t drink enough water, this can lead to other issues.
Aside from his weight, is there a medical reason that he’s on low fat food? It’s just been my experience, but low fat dog food works like low fat human food–it doesn’t work all that great because fat doesn’t necessarily make a living thing fat, and when fat is taken out something needs to replace it (sugar, carbs, etc.) Quality fats are needed for health; not all fats are created equally. Just something to consider.
“We spoke with our vet, who recommended against our current feeding regimen; saying it may be too small of a portion, causing him to go into starvation mode.”
Your Vet is 1000% correct. When the body is deprived of food, the thyroid gland will slow down the metabolism, causing the animal to not only gain weight, but to make weight loss very, very difficult. It’s why recovering anorexics often have hypothyroidism, and why people with hypothyroidism have problems with their weight stagnating even when they barely eat and get plenty of exercise. In fact, if the dog does have a thyroid problem, increasing exercise at this point might make weight loss impossible.
Consider this: when I was a teenager, I knew someone who fed a 40lb dog *one* 6oz can of Mighty Dog daily. The owner’s reasoning being that was the ration her last dog received, never mind he was a 20-ish lb lhasa mix. Needless to say, she wasn’t the brightest spark. However, despite both her dogs being underfed, they were actually overweight; the larger one at one point grossly so, despite the fact the she was being outright starved.
Offhand, I’d say for a 75lb inactive dog, no less than 2-2.5 cups per day should be fed. Just to give you a better idea of how low the amount you’re feeding is for a dog that weight, my 30lb Beagles get slightly less than 1.5 cups daily, and my 25-ish lb Beagle pup gets that or slightly more. When I had my 65lb Shepherd mix who hardly ate anything to keep a healthy weight would get no less than 2 cups. My purebred GSD was the same weight as the mutt, but had a higher nutrient requirement, and normally ate around 3.5-4 cups daily. Both were lean dogs, with not an ounce of spare fat.
For what my humble advice is worth, I would suggest taking this dog off Wellness altogether. Of all the feeds I’ve tried over the years, it was one of the absolute worst. Think I had somewhere around 13 adult dogs and a litter of pups on both the original grain inclusive formula, CORE, and Small Breed Puppy – and not a single one of them did well on it. Coats went to pot, problems with hypoglycemia and loose stools, etc.
Look for a feed that has a relatively low kcal content, so that you can feed this dog more food without giving an excess of calories. Aim for something around 340 kcals per cup or less, with moderate amounts of protein and fat. Be VERY careful with those grain free fad diets, because they often contain an unhealthy excess of protein and other nutrients. Or are made more with the owner’s sensibilities in mind than what the dog actually needs. And if it comes down to a prescription diet, that’s a far better alternative to the health problems being overweight will cause.
Thanks for the update. That is very interesting what your vet said about “starvation mode”. It does make a lot of sense though. My mother used to “fast” and not eat for periods at a time to lose weight and she would, but when she started eating again she would gain more weight back. Same reason your dog was still overweight.
Try the orijen treats they r good if you can afford
To HoundMusic: My boxer/beagle mix is overweight (She has the big boxer chest and pretty large stature compared to a beagle but the shorter beagle legs; she is 90#). I noticed above where you said:
Look for a feed that has a relatively low kcal content, so that you can feed this dog more food without giving an excess of calories. Aim for something around 340 kcals per cup or less, with moderate amounts of protein and fat. Be VERY careful with those grain free fad diets, because they often contain an unhealthy excess of protein and other nutrients.
I looked at her food at it is 440 kcal/cup. I’m not sure what moderate protein and fat would be, but hers is 26.68% and 18.62% respectively. She is on Victor Performance. She gets exercise either on walks or running/playing around the yard, but overall, she isn’t overly active. She’s given 3 cups/day.
I’m wondering if you would have any recommendations for her? Or at least any other points I should look for (what would be Moderate protein/fat and any other points in addition to ~340 kcals/cup)?
- This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Sara G.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Chicken & Salmon Formula Low Calorie Dry Dog Food
250 calories per cup, good reviews noted
Just something to watch out for, loose stools, might take a couple of weeks to show up.
It’s a little bit high in fiber, some dogs are sensitive and react to this and other dogs don’t and do fine with it.
PS: Yes, I also recommend using the kibble as a base, add at least a splash of water and a bite of something tasty mixed in 🙂
- This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by anonymous.
I have two neutered male labs that tend to be on the chubby side. I also shoot for around 350 calories so I can feed a decent amount of food to satisfy their hunger. I usually feed about 26 percent protein and 12 to 14 percent fat.
Whenever a food is labeled “performance”, it usually means it is for an active or working dog. Victor sells a healthy weight/senior formula that I have fed my dogs. I also always add a little warm water and a topper to their kibble. Canned stews are good to add because they are not usually very high in calories.
Good luck. I hope this helps.
Thank you, that is very helpful. I was looking for a food that I could feed both my dogs, and Victor recommended this one. However, I realize now that they are totally different and therefore likely need different food. My other dog is a highly rambunctious, scrawny boxer (1-1/2 years old; Boxer Beagle is 4 y.o.). He leaps and bounds and never puts on weight and if we aren’t careful, he can be too thin. So I think I better look for two different foods. Thanks so much for your input, really very helpful. Merry Christmas!
Yeah, sounds like two different foods might be a good idea. You may have to decrease the amount of food you are currently feeding to where she may not be satisfied or be getting adequate nutrients to get her weight down.
If you choose to feed something like the Nat Bal Fat Dogs that was recommended, I would only feed it short term. It is extremely low in calories and high in fiber, which I don’t believe is healthy long term. But, would be helpful to help with losing the weight initially.
I never knew there could be such a big difference in kibble calories before coming to this site. I thought it was pretty much all the same. Who knew? Lol!
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