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It is not your dog...it is you

This post was previously posted on November 8, 2013.  At the time of this visit Jazz was about 3...she got fit and went on to live a long, healthy life.  She celebrated her 15th birthday and we lost her later that summer.  I am convinced that had she not lost the weight, we would have never been able to enjoy her for so long...and with very few health issues.  It is never to late, to start helping your dog get fit today.

Thank you Slim Doggy spreading the word!   "It is not the dog, it is you." Never were words more true uttered. And then the lecture began....about 13 years ago or so, my step son and I were taking our Brittany Jazz to the vet for her annual check up and this was our first time at the vet's office since we were new to the area. Jazz was about 3 at the time. She was my husband's dog when I met him. He was a single Dad, so for a lot of the time it was just he and Jazz. They had a good exercise routine, but an even better eating routine. In addition to her regular food, he would give her cheese and rice on top...why, because she liked it. While he was at work, he would leave the TV on for Jazz, she would burrow into the covers on the bed and watch TV, then wait for her yummy dinner every night. We all loved her, catered to her, she was our girl.

Her ideal weight was around 37 lbs, but by the time of this visit she weighted 50 lbs...fat and happy doesn't begin to describe it. So here we are at Dr. Wilmarth's office and he says she is overweight and I begin with, "she likes to eat, she likes cheese..." And a few more reasons why she is overweight. He finally puts his hand up and says "let me stop you right there". He was probably old enough to be my dad at the time and he gave me a lecture right there that neither I nor our son will ever forget. He told me that the reason my dog was overweight was ME! He asked me if she ever fixed her own dinner. I tried to stammer back that sometimes she does get in the garbage. He demanded to know who fed her (me, my husband) and firmly established that she wasn't feeding herself but that WE were feeding her. Yes, I answered, we are the ones that feed her. And on the lecture went....he told me I controlled what she ate, that she was over 10 pounds over weight and that I was the only one that could help her lose the weight.

I needed to feed her less and start today. Period the end. Corey and I quietly left the office with Jazz. Neither one of us said much on the way home. We really couldn't since there was nothing to be said. Our dog was overweight and she got that way because we over fed her, period the end. No excuses, no issues...a young dog overweight because we fed her too much. We loved her so much we put her health at risk.

Well, she lost the weight and went on to live to the ripe old age of 16 at a healthy weight with very few health problems during her life. I'm certain if she would have stayed heavy, she wouldn't have been with us for that long. It is a combination of enough exercise and the right amount of food, and keeping that in balance.

Sometimes it can be what you are feeding that is causing your dog to gain weight, but more often than not it is how much. Without getting crazy, radically changing your dog's diet or exercise program, you can help them lose a little weight by just reducing the amount that you feed. It seems so easy, but we seem to have a hard time with it. I always hated that expression "less is more"...really?!? I've always been a "more is more" person. Yes, I'll take less, less chocolate, less money, less wine...hmmmmm, no. But in this case I think it is actually true!

A few small changes can help your pet get back to a healthier weight. Try: - using a measuring cup and be exact at every meal. You may think you are feeding just a cup at each meal, but when you measure it out, you may be surprised how much more you are actually putting in the bowl. - comparing what you've been feeding to what you should be and start gradually.

Each week reduce the amount until you get it down. - if you give your dogs treats...look at how many you are giving, how many calories are in each one? Do you even know? - if your dog has been happily used to a high calorie diet, cutting way back right away is no fun for your dog (and isn't really fair either), so make changes a little each week and stick to them.

Remember you control this part of your dog's health. A lot of things can come up in your dog's life that aren't fair and you can't control but you can control this part. Your dog is counting on you. "It is not your dog, it is you"...so true...now if I could only apply those same words to myself I might lose the extra weight I've been carrying around for the last 10 plus years..... Does your dog need to lose some weight? How are you helping them get there?


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