Oh My Gosh! That Dog is Too Skinny!
Until recently, this was the reaction I would get when I took my dogs in public.
I shamefully have to admit that when I took my female dog, Fury, in to get spayed at the vet I got in trouble for several pounds of weight gain.
The kids had come for the summer and “LOTS” of unwanted food and vegetables made their way to the floor and past the lips or my furry friends!
I actually thought that was it; until I cut back on her food and she still wasn’t losing weight. Then I realized she was supplementing her own diet with all of the fresh figs and peaches she could scarf down while she was outside on our property.
Funny how an incredible spike in sugar calories was keeping her from losing a little fluff!
Until fig season is over she is humiliated and forced to be spending her outside time on a leash!
I keep my dogs THIN!
And, I do this for several reasons!
My dogs are working dogs and they spend much of their time doing things like pulling carts or tires, running after balls, and flying through the air to bite “bad guys” in protection sports!
And in order to be successful in their jobs, they need to stay on the slender side of life.
It is also extremely hard on their joints and teeth to carry extra pounds and hit a decoy.
Just a few pounds can make the difference in healthy, and a blown knee, injured back, or other serious injuries more about that here.
I Want to Be Able to See my Dog’s Ribs
On a short haired dog, I want to be able to see a little bit of ribs. I don’t want to be able to see back bone (yikes) but I DO want to be able to see the ribs a little.
On a long haired dog, I want to be able to feel ribs (without poking and pushing). Again, I don’t want to be able to easily feel backbone, but I do want to be able to feel some ribs.
This is a fairly fine line, and one that takes some effort to walk each day and each week.
You can’t get into a feeding rut, or your dog will either lose too much weight or gain too much, so it is imperative that you keep a close eye on your best friend.
As his body changes or he begins to exercise more, he needs more or less food.
Before You Send Hate Mail
and I know this is controversial…
I recognize that this concept is hard for some people. The last thing they want to do is see a little bit of ribs showing on their dogs.
I’m not talking about crazy thin, with hip bones and backbone, and ribs but I think people equate a thin dog with abuse.
And as hard as it is to look at an emaciated dog, I think it is equally disturbing to look at an obese dog!
But let me tell you that a thin dog is much healthier than an overweight dog!
Overweight dogs are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and all the same adversities that overweight people suffer from!
And I would rather have a thin healthy active dog that can play sports and go everywhere; than a dog that has a ruptured knee, bad back, or hip/elbow dysplasia and cannot exercise.
If you are unsure; ask your vet! Your vet will be happy to tell you what your best friend should weigh and each dog, breed, and age is a little different!
In a lot of ways I think our idea of normal, or healthy weight is a little skewed.
And, let me tell you, I wish someone would meal feed me only a certain amount!
Will power and mindless eating is also a problem for me!
Did you know even dogs and other animals (my cats) eat just because they are bored!
And, it is also important to know that a normal, healthy dog is always hungry.
In the wild, dogs would have to eat as much as they could and gorge themselves because they never knew where the next meal would come from or when it would come.
So it is normal for your dog to always act “crazy hungry” (this is why I do meal feed).
On an added note, sometimes our senior friends need a little extra “fluff” to give them an extra buffer if they get a little sick. Again if you are unsure, ask your vet for his/her opinion and help with a diet program!
It is our job as their humans and their partners to make sure they are as healthy and happy as they can be!
What do you think?
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.