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Wednesday, March 9,2016

Weighing In

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

I´ve always thought it was weird that the first thing they do on a vet visit is weigh the dog. It’s not like dogs are sensitive or paranoid about the number on the scale, like we humans are... right?


Since we live with our dogs, day in and day out, it’s not always obvious when they have lost or gained a significant amount of weight. Changes in weight can signal illness or disease. Catching things before they escalate usually gives you more treatment options.

A puppy’s weight serves as a starting point, and gauges their health. You want slow, controlled healthy growth, to ensure proper development. Our dogs can’t read labels, they need us to monitor and offer highly nutritional foods, avoiding corn, wheat, soy and by-products.

A dog’s weight also helps your vet to administer the proper doses of medication, for parasite prevention (heartworm, flea and tick), an antibiotic or medicine your pet may require. Overmedicating can seriously injure (or worse) your pet. Always keep all medicines, including vitamins out of reach of your pet(s) and children.

Since most of us thankfully only see the vet annually, it’s a good idea to track your pet’s weight. An easy way to do this is to weigh yourself. Then weigh yourself holding your dog. Subtract the first number from the second. Do you have a large breed, or are physically unable to hoist your hound? Most pet supplies have scales in their stores. Leash them up and go for a ride. If you notice a significant change in your adult dog (unless s/he is on a weight loss regimen), contact your vet.

I see so many “full-figured” pets at events. An overweight pet is not only uncomfortable, but you are decreasing their quality and length of life. Generally speaking, your pet’s rib cage and spine should be easily felt, but not showing. There should be an indentation between the ribcage and hip socket. The tummy should not protrude.

Just as the lather, rinse, repeat method causes you to buy shampoo more frequently; I find most foods encourage overfeeding. The recommended portions on your pet’s food serve as guidelines. You need to consider your pet’s age, health and activity level. Our pack gets a snack in the morning, like:

• Cottage cheese (one tablespoon for the 8Lb yorkie, three tablespoons for the 60Lb aussie)

• Sardines in water (1/2 for the Yorkie, Whole ones for the Aussies)

• Baby carrots (two for the Yorkie, four for the Aussies) or

• Dog treats without corn, wheat, soy or by-products We feed our pack lunch around 3 pm.

They have time to digest, and aren’t in the kitchen when we prepare our evening meal of lighter fare. None of us go to sleep on a full stomach, and have time to burn calories on the walk. I have a friend who doesn’t eat ANYTHING (aside from water or hot tea) after 7 pm; without modifying her diet. Since she wasn’t snacking, neither was her dog, they both lost weight.

It makes a lot of sense for us humans to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. 50 percent of our daily calories should be consumed at breakfast - the most important meal of the day, tapering down as we decrease our activity level in the late afternoon/evening. Just don’t ask ME to weigh myself!

Tina Valant-Siebelts is a confirmed dog-o-holic, mom to many rescued pets, who volunteers with numerous organizations. To "fill all those dog bowls," Tina is an award-winning photographer, writer & event coordinator.


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