Have your pets made any Resolutions for the New Year? I think that Daisy’s is to get even more cuddles than last year, and Sprocket? Well, he hasn’t let me know but I’m hoping that it’s to eat less socks and other odd things.

It’s not unusual for resolutions to be about becoming healthier and we think that’s a great resolution for our pets as well. Obesity is a very real problem in our pets and so making a resolution to get them in shape can reap tons of benefits. Not to mention that it can double up to get us more active as well. Today’s blog is about just such a resolution that took place a couple of years ago.

During a routine examination, we met a couple of beautiful female Huskeys, Winter and Bianca belonging to Mark. He loved his dogs so much and wanted the very best for them. They loved being outside more than anything so they spent a lot of time outdoors summer, winter, spring and fall. Mark was under the impression that because they spent so much time outside in the winter they should have a little bit of extra fat covering their bones. He didn’t skimp on their food and liked to keep them a little chubby. However, when we examined the girls, Mark was shocked to learn that they were more than a little chubby and that we were concerned about their health.

As in humans, excess fat can accumulate around organs contributing to a variety of health concerns, including: 

  1. Heart disease
  2. Respiratory Disease
  3. Difficulty exercising
  4. Joint Disease
  5. Skin Problems
  6. Reduced ability to fight infections, 
  7. High Blood Pressure
  8. Diabetes
  9. Increased Risk during anesthesia
  10. Even Decreased Life Expectancy by 2 years.  

Mark was shocked!  “Wow, I had no idea!  Of course I don’t want any of those things for my girls.  I want them to live long healthy, happy lives.  I have noticed that they don’t like to go for walks as much as they used to, but I thought that was just because they are getting older.  Do you think that it could be to the extra weight they are carrying?  What can I do now?”   

We discussed calorie restriction and foods formulated specifically to aid in healthy weight loss.  We didn’t want them to lose the weight too quickly but it was important that they lose it.  We created a nutrition plan specific to each dog which included their daily meals as well as the exact calories in treats they were allowed to eat.  We didn’t want to deprive them of their special treats, just be cautious about how much they were eating.  

“They are always hungry, though.  How can I reduce their feeding size, they’ll starve?”   We discussed that although they may eat all of their food, it may not necessarily mean that they are actually hungry.  We also discussed how some prescription foods will help them to feel full with fewer calories.  

“Another important aspect of weight loss is enrichment” we explained to Mark.  “Sometimes pets will eat out of boredom or just because the food is available.  We will help you to set up an enrichment plan for the girls so that meal and treat time is more exciting for them.”  

We also developed an exercise program for the girls including specific exercises for home when the weather was too bad to make it for a walk and again to encourage enrichment in exercising, rather than the same thing every single day.  

In looking at the whole dog we were able to create a program that included the nutritional needs, exercise needs and mental health needs of each.    

Feeling lighter and more active
We can see a waist

As time went on, we were able to adapt our plans accordingly. Bianca was more stubborn and wasn’t interested in some of the exercises so we worked to find the ones that she did like and added and adapted those accordingly. Winter was more compliant and enjoyed all of the exercises. Mark was able to keep up with the plans we implemented and it wasn’t long before we were starting to notice a waist forming on each of them. Winter lost more quickly but with time Bianca caught up. After 2 years of sticking with their programs, both dogs have decreased their weight dramatically and are much healthier. They can not wait to go on their walks, are walking longer and are not begging for food at all. Mark was happy to announce that he feels fitter and healthier too with all of the walking he is doing with them. Win, win!

Mark does such a great job at taking care of his girls and we are so happy that we were able to contribute to this journey of health.

Has your pet ever had success with a resolution? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Author: Dr. Janet Henderson