Is Your Dog Fat

Fat dogs are a ‘pet peeve’ of mine. That’s funny, right? Good, because fat dogs are not. I’m sending out the memo now, once and for all, let me be clear. Food does not equal love.

While I’ve struggled with my own weight issues during my adult life, I’ve always managed to keep my dogs thin. How’s that? I believe it’s my responsibility as their owner-guardian-steward-pet-havin’-word-du-jour to keep them skinny.

It’s not that I have a think for fat mongrels but it’s just that I have a thing for weighty issues having suffered from them for a long time but still fat dogs do give me the chills which is why I mentioned pet peeve above as even though I can take my mutt to the pain management for dogs society to get it checked, I sometimes get revolted when they eat too much despite their skinny frame.

And it’s probably skinnier than you think it is. For our purposes today, Rocco will be our fine physical specimen. Rocco is oh about 25lbs-ish of fit as a fiddle. And pretty much has been his entire life. I only weigh my dogs every so often though, so I’m usually not worried about poundage as a number. Nope. It’s all about…

The Tuck. The visible tuck of their waist as seen from the side.

And above.

A clearly defined waist from all angles, with not much tummy hanging past it or bulging at the sides. That’s the goal. A little ribbage, seeing a rib or two, especially as a dog turns away from me, doesn’t even freak me out. It’s certainly preferable to those bones being buried under layers of flub.

For our fluffier dog friends, weight monitoring is a little more hands-on, but still involves the rib bones. Get in there and feel those ribs. Can you? Can you do it easily? Or do you really have to press and dig around in there? Fur or no fur, ribs should be easily palpable. If you are having to dig, its time to cut back.

On that cutting back, dogs cant open the fridge. At least mine can’t. They may forage on occasion – more on that later this week – but it doesn’t contribute to their calories in an appreciable way. If it does, I adjust accordingly. I’d swear my dogs are trying to eat us out of house and home. They do not lack for treats or bones or much of anything. They aren’t denied, but they certainly aren’t fat. Here’s why.

Excess Food. Wasted Money. You’ve seen my dog spending. Who can afford to have a fat dog? Fat dogs eat more. Fat dogs cost more. It’s that simple. If you have one dog or seven (who has seven dogs!?) every pound of overage equates to dollars down the drain. Or more appropriately, left in piles in the backyard. Because what they don’t store in their reserves, they leave as bigger gifts for you to pick up afterward. Canned, kibble or raw. This is true no matter what you feed them

One Word: Arthritis. Not really one word. Several. Diabetes, respiratory problems, tumors, or how about just gas? As with humans, obesity means a myriad of canine health problems. Different from us though, a little bit of weight can make a big difference to their small bodies. When Ford came to us he was 4lbs, that should have been 6. Those 2lbs accounted for 1/3 of his body weight, making 2lbs a big deal. Now that we’ve got a whopping three old dogs with mobility concerns, I am even more diligent about this. I can’t imagine taxing them further by having them carry around excess weight. Even if I’m not constantly monitoring their exact weight, I get concerned when we see about a 3-5lb increase. The low end of that for the little dogs (not including tiny Ford), and the higher end for the big dogs. Dont wait for weight to become an issue deal with it…

Daily. Every day you make the decision about how much food to put in that bowl. Just you. Not the dog. Hugo is a bottomless pit of hunger. He acts just as hungry after he scarfs down his breakfast as he does when he hasn’t eaten for 8 hours. He is a pug. His mission in life is to convince me he needs more food. And I could give it to him. And it would make him happy. Everyone likes happy dogs. But, long term that’s about you. Not the dog. The best interest of the dog is to limit their food. We look at our dogs at each meal time, and vary their amount of food accordingly. Are they looking thin or thick? How much exercise have they gotten? That’s how we determine how much goes in the bowl. Not by the squealing, pleading and black flips of one perpetually famished pug.

I’ll say again, fat dogs are not cute. To me, it’s not funny. I see wasted dollars and compromised health. For. No. Reason. Dogs are opportunistic scavengers, programed to eat when there’s plenty. If there’s always plenty, they are going to pack on the pounds. It’s not their fault. (Side Bar: If you have one of those gloriously non-food motivated dogs, you are an enigma to me). This is my solution: Think before you scoop.

Do you have a fat dog? A non-eater? A dog you struggle to keep weight on or off? What are your strategies for dealing with pooch portion control?