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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Of Dogs, and Kids
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Wednesday, June 5,2019

Of Dogs, and Kids

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

Recently, a small dog was surrendered to rescue. He is super cute, and he is on the… (ahem) portly side. His former owner suffers from dementia and didn’t recall when she fed him. “He always looks hungry,” “I go out to dinner and bring him whatever I ordered, because I feel badly for leaving him,” “He loves his treats,” “I can’t resist that face.”

It was uncomfortable for him to move, he snores terribly and has little interest in anything – except food. Years of his life were at stake.

Is your dog overweight?

• Viewing from the top, is an indentation between his/her rib cage and hips missing?

• Viewing from the side, does his/her tummy extend below the rib cage?

• Are you feeding (including treats and table scraps) more than twice a day?

• Does your dog snore or find it difficult to settle to nap/sleep?

• Is your dog’s “pep in their step” missing, that s/he had before?

If you answered yes to more than three of these, most likely your dog is overweight, possibly obese. Let me ask you a serious question: Is the brief joy you feel doling out treats worth the reality of knowing you are responsible for sending them to an early, uncomfortable death? Food is NOT love.

I kindly told a friend that their dog (who I love) was really overweight, and they needed to cut back on the food and increase the walks. “Our vet never mentioned that,” she said. At your next vet visit, ASK, “How is my pet’s weight?” If your vet is worried about offending you with that reality, maybe you need to change vets.

Maintaining your pet at lean body weight can add years to their life, and avoid diabetes, joint diseases and arthritic pain. Pets at optimum weight tend to be healthier, happier, mentally stimulated and more active.

As we get older we require less calories, because our activity levels decrease. Adjust your pet’s meals accordingly. Generally speaking, after a pup reaches a year old, they no longer need to be on puppy food, which is higher in fat. After a dog has its seventh birthday (equivalent to our being 31 years old) they can usually switch over to a light food, which is higher in fiber and lower in calories. Read labels. Avoid foods/treats with corn, wheat, soy and byproducts; these are cheap fillers devoid of nutrients, which can trigger cancers.

If your dog does need to drop weight, switch to a light food. Don’t trust the recommended portions on the label. Feed according to weight, activity level, health and age. Our 50-pound rescued Aussie, Katie, is seven years old, and very active. She gets a light breakfast, and later, a cup and a half serving of holistic light kibble. Occasionally, we serve our pack plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, quinoa, baby carrots, green beans, canned pumpkin, lean meats, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries or blueberries. Today they had roasted butternut squash and sardines as their main meal (lunch).

No pay without work. Do not just give your dog a treat when you return from a walk. Do NOT give them a fatty pig ear nightly. That is an occasional treat (once a month). When we are doing training, I factor in the amount of treats, and slightly reduce food portions in their regular meals.

Our pets rely on us for healthy food, clean water, a roof overhead, and daily exercise, along with physical, mental and emotional stimulation. You wouldn’t allow your child to have unlimited cake and candy at every meal. All that sugar and empty calories can harm their body, decrease their self-esteem, and reduce their lifespan. Other kids are going to make fun of them, and they won’t be able to really enjoy their childhood. Food is not love. Be the leader. Set the example. It’s healthy to say no!

The one thing your dog (and child) really wants is your undivided attention. The joy and bonding experience of a daily 30-plus minute walk has far more benefits (for all) than a quick treat, which is forgotten in seconds. Take the time and plan for your dog’s, your child’s and your long-term health and happiness.


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