Top Ten Excuses for a Fat Dog
Doc Truli wants obese dogs to start loosing weight. However, most people do not realize their dog is obese. There are several excuses Doc hears every day:
Top Ten Excuses for a Fat Dog
- He just won’t stop eating
- He steals cat food
- I can’t walk him, I have a ____ injury (knee, hip, double bypass, etc.)
- I had no idea it was that bad
- I hardly feed her anything!
- Ever since the spay (5 years ago), she’s been fat
- The dog lives with my _____ (grandfather, mother, kids) and they don’t take care of it
- He’s always been like that
- But I don’t feed table scraps!
- Me, too
Boston Terrier Obesity
Let’s take Jimmy, the fat Boston Terrier in the pictures, as an example. He’s super fat. If he were a guy, he’d be 750 pounds on “The Biggest Loser.” Jimmy does not go to the store, buy cheesey-poofs, or hang with friends and pig out at the local Carnival. He doesn’t raid the refrigerator at night. He’s not depressed about his failure to finish college. He doesn’t care what his body looks like. Jimmy’s path to obesity involved humans giving him too many calories, empty calories, and not enough opportunity for exercise.
Too Many Calories
Find Out How Many Kilocalories per Cup Your Dog’s Food Contains
Wide Calorie Range
Most commercially available dog foods are 210-550 kilocalories per level 8 ounce measuring cup. Yes! The range can be double! A diet food from the vet’s office might be 210-260 kilocalories per cup. A regular supermarket food is usually 300-425 or so. Some of the holistic all-natural brands are up to 550 kilocalories per cup!
A Little Work to Figure Out
A few brands list the calories on the label. Most do not. Some list the calories on their website. Most do not. Every brand has a 1-800 information number on the bag. Just cut-to-the-chase and call and ask, “how many kilocalories (pronounced Keel-oh) per cup does the food contain?” That’s easiest!
Low-Calorie, Light, Less
These words have no legal definitions. A light food from one brand might contain more calories than the regular food from a different brand. Most companies follow a guideline where they mean that the “light” food is fewer calories per cup than their regular food. Just call the 1-800 info number. They’ll let you know “how many kilocalories per measuring cup?”
A light food from one brand might contain more calories than the regular food from a different brand!
High Calorie Treats
A small dog – like Jimmy should be – might need – let’s say – 30 kilocalories per kilogram of ideal dog weight per day. If Jimmy weighs 30 pounds (15 kg) and he should weigh 15 lbs (7.5kg), then he should shoot for about 225 – 300 kilocalories per day. (Ish. Every dog’s exercise and genetics are different.) This is an estimate to give someone the idea that they might be feeding too many calories.
Estimating Caloric Needs
If your dog is bulging, like Jimmy, then he or she is probably eating double the calories needed per day. Each time Doc Truli calculates for a pet, a pet as fat as Jimmy, visually, is 100% overfed on calories. At least 100%, sometimes 200%!
Take whatever your dog eats and cal the companies, look on the bags, or look on the websites until you get calories per cup for each food, and # of calories on the treats. Add them up! If you get 600-800 calories for a terrier, don’t be ashamed! Figure out how to cut out the empty calories first! Just try that for a month. Weight your pet weekly to chart your success.
If Jimmy eats average semi-moist style supermarket treats a day (I don’t want to name names & appear against any particular brands), most of them contain about 30 kilocalories per treat. That’s 300 calories right there! So even though the calculation is inexact, you can imagine and see on Jimmy’s body, where the empty calories are going.
In the 1970’s, parents told kids not to eat too many empty calories. Now it seems few people remember the concept. An empty calorie is energy from food that is not paired with vitamins, minerals, or other micronutrients that you need to be healthy. Some food consisting of empty calories actually leach nutrients back out of your body and your pets’ bodies.
Examples of empty calorie foods would be soda, fast food, most processed candies, flavored artificial products like drinks, most processed snacks like chips. These items are not nourishing for the body. They may feel like they nourish the emotions, but they incite an emotional rollercoaster that causes you to want to eat them again and again to smooth out your moods. Believe it or not, this is an unnatural existence. Nature is not so cruel as to want you to feel in desperate need of a chip or a soda!
Empty Calorie Dog and Cat Foods
What’s In Dog Treats?
Most cheap treats for pets are empty calories. If you read the contents, or call the company and ask, you will fond a backbone of a fiber or starch with some corn syrup, flavor enhancers, smoke flavors, and preservative-type chemicals.
Ever Try a Dog Treat?
Pet foods legally have a lower standard of contamination that people food. (Like more rat droppings per ton are allowed, etc), so I am not advocating eating pet food, but I can tell you, Doc Truli has eaten pet treats and pet food. Some treats, like the sticks that resemble pepperoni sticks, smell fantastic. If you are a carnivore at heart, they smell like succulent BBQ. If you put a little piece on your tongue, that flavor that matches the wonderful smell, lasts a portion of a second. The flavor goes out of those treats faster than the flavor leaves cheap gum. Most dogs do not care. They inhale those treats.
What’s to Like?
Imagine, 30 kilocalories, with flavor that last a split second, gets inhaled right into the belly and has no nutrition other than empty calories! Why do we do this to our dogs? Because they “like it?” Do they like having arthritis and breathing problems? Do you think they want to die at 10 years old instead of living 50% longer? Just for a tasteless high-calorie treat? Maybe everyone should taste their dog’s food and treats. Then we would see who still thinks we are spoiling our pets.
Let’s be honest. Our dogs need 20-40 minutes of heart-pounding exercise a day. Ball chasing, doggy wrestling, running, swimming, actual exercise. Very, very few dogs are lucky enough to get this kind of activity in their lives. Very few people move this much in America today.
Dogs are Social, Territorial, Inquisitive Creatures
If your dog never leaves the house, shame on you! Doc doesn’t care if your Chihuahua “doesn’t need” to go outside to use the toilet. Outside is fun for normal dogs. Unless your dog suffered head trauma or poisoning, or some other disastrous unique situation, your dog is basically normal. Now, a pet will adapt to the circumstances you provide. If your Boston Terrier has always lived inside and only gone out to the vet’s and maybe the groomer, then you cannot just start dragging him or her around the block on a leash. It will not be pleasant for either of you, Doc Truli promises you that!
Start From Where You Are
Start with whatever activity you and your dog now share. Commit to more physical activity. Play games, interact, make rules and work tougher to invent fun times. Dogs and cats understand the arbitrary and often cheating rules of made-up games the way human children do. Your cat knows that’s your hand under the blanket! Your Chihuahua knows a game is a game. Make games up together. Go with the flow. Your cat or dog will surprise you with new variations on the game. (My cat cheats at blanket-hand by trying to get under the covers and getting the hand directly, but not often. Most of the time he preserves the illusion for the fun of the game.)
Take Your Dog Out
Try to get your dog outside. Just the muscle tension and investigation that goes into sniffing things outside will help tone muscles and get the heart pumping. Interest in the world beyond your family and want treats and goodies flow from the refrigerator is good mental health exercise. If you commit to the concept of outdoor activity, you will find what works. Try different times of day if the weather is not permitting. Try different harnesses and even a dog stroller if you have to – just to get outdoors and be healthier. If you have a difficult dog and an interesting way you overcame his or her reluctance to go out, write to VirtuaVet and let everyone know about it! We all could use more good ideas!