Often our clients and friends ask about our travels and our house and pet sitting experiences and we thought that a blog would be a good way to share our stories both past and present.

We have met and made friends with some lovely humans, canines and felines over the past 5 years and we hope that you enjoy reading about our pet sitting and house sitting experiences as much as we enjoy regaling our "tails"!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Helping with weight loss

Putting Your Dog On A Diet for Weight Loss

We sat for a lovely dog in New Zealand who had become overweight due to his age, and too many treats. He was very much loved, but the vet had put him on a strict diet and had banned all treats. This was very hard for his owners and we arrived at just the right time to kick start his regime.

We were sitting for 6 weeks, so we had a good amount of time get him into a new routine.

He was a Cattle dog cross, and in his 10th year. He was very sweet natured.

To get your dog started on a lifestyle change and diet that is needed to help an already overweight dog start to get in shape, consider the following:

Reduce food intake - We started by cutting out all snacks, treats and food items other than the actual dog food. This meant no high carb or sugary treats, no extra little scraps from the table or even any dog cookies. High quality treats can be reintroduced to the diet on a very limited amount once the weight has been lost.

The vet had prescribed a very low calorie dry food. Most dogs will lose weight even on regular kibble provided all the other aspects of the plan are followed. Ask your vet for recommendations for foods that would be beneficial to your particular dog. We switched the food gradually from meat to dry food to avoid digestive problems. Don’t worry if the dog refuses to eat the dry, especially if it is a picky eater, it will eat when it gets hungry. He resisted for a day, but soon got stuck in when he realised nothing else was coming. The vet advised us that if your dog does not eat for two days and you are exercising the dog as outlined contact your vet before proceeding with the food selection.

Increase exercise - and this involved our participation. Max simply did not exercise himself. Putting them outside in the yard for an extra hour doesn’t count since they will likely take a leisurely stroll around the yard, find a comfortable spot and rest. You must make them keep moving. Take them on a leash for a walk around the block at least twice a day. Once they can do one block, increase to two and keep increasing the distance and the pace of the exercise. Start slow and gradually increase to avoid stressing both the dog and yourself! Max could not walk very far, we started on a short walk and increased it every day.

Increase play times. We threw max a ball or a stick, or played a game of tag or chase. Start slow, even just rolling the ball to get the dog involved. Lots of praise and attention during the game will help keep them motivated and engaged. We timed it to when he was feeling a bit more lively, like when he was due for a walk.

Max had a 'friend' just a few houses away, and would take himself off for a wander to go see George, another dog. It is good for dogs to play with other dogs, this is a great form of exercise for them.

We checked the yard and house for hidden food items. Many dogs have learned to get into the garbage, get into cupboards and raid the treat boxes or even get into candy dishes left on the coffee table. Remove all sources of food from where the dog can access.

We took the dog to the vet at the beginning of our stay to weigh him, and introduce ourselves. We then returned every 2 weeks to see if any progress was being made. The weight reduced very slowly, partly because Max couldn't exercise very much, but gradually it started to show, around his neck, and hips.

Keep on the plan for two weeks, decreasing each meal by one quarter and doubling a reasonable level of exercise. You should notice a slight weight loss in this period. You can either weigh the dog by using a standard bath scale or, for large breeds, simply use a measuring tape around the widest part of the their body. If you have followed the plan and are decreasing food, increasing exercise and cutting out all treats and do not notice even a slight decrease in weight after two weeks see your veterinarian immediately to rule out any medical problems.

We had great support from the neighbours who saw us out every day, everyone asked us his weight and encouraged us along the way. He lost 40kg in the 6 weeks we looked after him, so we were very pleased.

When Max's family returned they were very pleased with the progress and have continued with the food and exercise regime. He is much more mobile now.

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