My nine year old dachshund has embraced healthy living!
Maggie has gone from 20 pounds to 15.5 pounds. I’m so proud and so relieved that we have gotten her to a healthy weight. Did you know that dogs who are fed appropriate amounts – and are healthy weights – live nearly TWO YEARS longer than their heavier counterparts? (Source)
But it was especially important to us that we got Maggie’s weight under control because heavy dachshund have more spinal cord issues. Maggie is turning TEN this year, and I would like to keep her feeling young, fit, and fancy free as long as possible!
When I decided to put Maggie on a weight-loss regimen (over the summer), we started off by talking to our vet and running the appropriate blood work. He said that Maggie looked healthy, and her only issue was her weight. He shared some suggestions for helping her lose the pounds, and I’m sharing his advice below!
Stop Free Feeding – The vet said it’s better to feed the dogs in regular intervals (he suggested two or three times a day) instead of leaving a big bowl of kibble out all the time. We already did this, but we did leave Pippa the cat’s food out all day, so we stopped that because Pippa was heavy, too (rest in peace, Pippa – miss you still!).
Start Measuring – The vet said that we absolutely need to use a scooper to measure out Maggie’s food. Basically – portion control. Up until this point, I was just dumping food into their bowls and eyeballin’ it. I didn’t even know what a serving of dog food was supposed to look like.
The back of the dogs’ food said that a doggie Maggie’s size needed about a cup and a half a day to maintain her weight. Our vet said that she’d need to burn more calories than she was eating to lose weight (hey, sounds familiar…). He said we could do this by cutting back her portions and/or walking her more regularly.
I found this slightly complicated formula to determine Maggie’s calories needs (photo above). It’s not an exact science, but the formula is a good guide for the range of calories considered appropriate (RER to MER). According to the chart, Maggie needed about 450 calories a day to lose weight. Our vet said that, generally speaking, a cup of dog kibble is give or take equal to 400 calories (and this chart backs that up). I couldn’t figure out the calorie count of our dog food, but so the vet said to give her around a cup a day plus snacks. And that leads me to my next tip…
Veggies for Snacks – We totally stopped offering ‘dog treats’ and chew sticks and replaced all of the dogs’ treats with veggies like carrots, zucchini, and apple slices. I love giving the dogs treats, so I didn’t want to stop the practice entirely. Now that we give them veggies, I feel better about their snacks – they are healthy and low calorie! I still occasionally give them potato chips (I know, I know…), but it’s much less than it was before.
And last, but not least…
Removed Wet Food – Our vet said there is nothing wrong with wet food. In fact, wet food is actually less calorie dense (because it contains water), and dogs may feel fuller when they eat wet food (due to the volume). Wet food can also be good for older dogs with teeth problems. We cut out wet food NOT for weight loss reasons but for financial reasons. Wet food is so expensive! The side effect of removing wet food, however, was a further reduction in the dogs’ total calories. Our vet said it’s fine for them just to have kibble, so it’s a win-win. Less money, fewer calories, more doggie weight loss.
So – that’s how Maggie lost about 20% of her body weight in half a year!
Wait, wait. What about EXERCISE? Here’s the thing – we didn’t really change much. Maggie still goes on her daily stroll (slow and short) and still plays chase with James and Henry, but that’s the extent of her exercise. She’s just a lazy creature… as I write this, she’s snoring in my lap!
I knew that we really just needed to watch Maggie’s food intake. After all, it’s hard to counteract heavy overeating with exercise… you end up having to do a LOT of exercise, which Maggie isn’t really up for.
And what about James?
Our efforts made the biggest difference with Maggie, not James. James dropped a pound or two, but nothing as amazing as Maggie’s progress. I think we’re still slightly overfeeding him – he gets a lot more snacks off the table (and out of Henry’s hands). I hope that with a few more dietary tweaks, we can get his weight to a healthier level, too. I want our doggies to be with us as long as possible!
Any other doggie or kitty weight loss success stories?
Aww, Caitlin I’ve been reading since you started and I know how much you love your fur babies. I’m happy Maggie is at a healthier weight 🙂 You are a great Mama to both Henry and your pets 🙂