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Discussion Starter #1
People often confuse a dog's weight with her or his fitness - but the 2 are very different. :)

Posting "my dog weighs X-pounds, is s/he in good shape?" is rather like asking how tall is a tree, how wide is a door, or how long is a road - purebred dogs will fall within a certain range, Chihuahuas don't weigh 20# & Danes don't weigh 5#, but individuals have individual fitness: what's fat on one is perfect for another, & too skinny for a 3rd.

Measure
Eyeballing one's dog for wt [gain, loss, maintain] is no more accurate than eyeballing "a scoop" for their meals. :eek: If ya want to know the size of each meal, ya gotta measure.
Similarly, if ya want to know the weight of a dog, ya need a scale.

PACC, a non-profit rescue in Virginia, had 5 young dogs, siblings, who arrived from a North Carolina hoarding case; they were a little thin, but in good shape physically, just minor internal parasites. [Their emotional / mental state was disastrous, but physically, they were OK.]
3-weeks later, Dakota - who'd arrived at 18# - weighed THIRTY-FIVE pounds! :eek: His foster blamed his weight gain on my training rewards, which were 100% protein & pea-sized; remotely possible, but unlikely.

When i visited her, i watched as she threw "a scoop" into every dog's bowl, stacked the filled S/S bowls, & plopped one in front of every dog. // Her other fosters weighed 60# & up. :rolleyes: An unmeasured 'scoop' for one of them was 2X what Dakota needed for an entire day, & he got it twice a day.
A dog who's lived in semi-starvation, fighting for his food, will eat anything on offer, just in case there's no food tomorrow. :(
Cody went on a diet - it took 2-months to take off the pudge he'd gained in 3-wks flat, LOL.

to track body condition
An easy way to check fit vs f-a-t for body condition, not 'weight', is to palpate ribs: the edge of each rib should be easily felt under a thin, springy layer of muscle. They should feel like a xylophone in a suede bag. // If the ribcage feels -smooth-, that's f-a-t spatula'ed over the intercostal muscles, & it needs to come off.

A dog's spine should never be visible [except in sighthounds, & then only the lower spine, never the upper].
There should also be no valley to either side of the spine - smooth appearance, barely-palpable vertebrae.

Double-coats or curly coats can hide many sins: underneath, the dog can be fat as a hog or a scrawny rack of bones, but fingers on their ribs can "see" where we can't. ;)
Smooth coated dogs are of course, easiest to see, & most ppl don't realize that the last 2 ribs should be visible under that smooth coat; not staring & gaunt, but U should see 'em.
80% of Labs these days look like steers ready for slaughter, they carry so much extra flab. :( Pitbulls, too, & other bully-breeds are often lumps of lard, along with the Usual Suspects: Pugs, Frenchies, Beagles, Dachsies, & other cute small smooth-coated dogs.

All dogs should have:
- visible waists, seen from above
- tuck-up before the rear legs, seen from the side
- necks that visibly taper from shoulder to skull
- visible shoulder layback: the line of the shoulder blade on each side

Dogs aren't pipes, & shouldn't be cylindrical. :p From above, the shoulders should be the widest part of the body; in most breeds, the butt should be approx 2/3 the width of the shoulders, seen from above.

Signs of morbid obesity:
- fat blankets with vertical edges draping butt & torso
- dimples in the fat
- fat-pad on the chest
- necks like pipes
- underline from chest to rear legs runs STRAIGHT, seen from the side.

Lean is always better than a little pudgy, as extra weight not only adds stress to joints & wears them down, but added fat increases risk for many diseases: metabolic disorders like diabetes or Cushings', inflammatory diseases that are autoimmune malfunctions, cancers of all kinds, & of course, cardiac & pulmonary problems.
Simply keeping a dog with poor hips or bad elbows or knees lean will keep them more comfortable, allow them freer movement, & extend their lifespans.

Hard condition describes a dog who is not only lean, but very fit with it, & very muscular. Muscles demand feeding, & dogs with more muscle have faster metabolic rates than dogs with higher body-mass indices [their fat to muscle ratio].

I'll post some good diagrams & a few photos, to illustrate the range from severely underweight thru lean to "hard, fit condition" to morbidly obese.

- terry
 

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I learned that it's very, very, very, easy to misjudge just how fast extra calories add up when going from med-small, and med. dogs to a toy sized dog. Back when I had my larger dogs they were at a perfect weight at 24 lbs and 44 lbs, the extra calories didn't hurt. They never gained weight. They passed away and I got Zody, he was a year old when I got him and already over weight at 9 lbs.

I fell into the oh that's so little, a bit more won't hurt trap. Then I got into the habit of giving him 1 bully stick a day. On top of that neighbors loved to give him treats, enough treats for 2 large dogs, and I wasn't firm in saying NO. By the age of 3 Zody got up to 11.6 lbs and was plain fat. He also had very little energy and then his back messed up. I got serious about getting the weight off him. I cut back on his food, stopped giving him bully sticks except as a once in a blue moon treat. I only let neighbors give him treats that I give to them. He'll be 5 years old in Jan and he's down to 8 lbs and looks fabulous, he also now loves to run and play.

I keep Zody at a fit pet dog weight, and one thing I did learn last week with Zody getting sick is that having a toy breed at fit sport dog weight could have been dangerous for him. While sick and not able to eat, then being feed small amounts to make sure his stomach didn't get upset, he lost around a pound and was trending towards being emaciated. I was shocked at how fast it happened. If I had had him at fit sport dog weight he would have been emaciated.
 

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Lean is not always better than pudgy.

Having a little, and I stress little, extra padding on an elderly dog or one that has a tendency to get sick or go off their food is fine. The problem is that pudgy means obese to some. I'm talking mid way between three and 4 on the above scale.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
A mixed bag - here's a challenge:
- pick out the TWO-YEAR OLD
- pick out 2 FIELD-TRIAL CHAMPS, one of each sex

Good luck, all. :)

BTW, notice how young over-feeding begins: LOOK at those puppies! :eek:
Their joints are overloaded & IMO / IME, they'll have early-onset joint problems, as young adults.
I'd expect at least half of that litter to pace when 'walking' by 18-MO to 2-YO, vs a normal 4-beat walk. :(
[Pacing, when both legs on each side move together, moves wt off the rear & onto the shoulders.
It often indicates discomfort / pain in the hips, knees, hocks, or connective tissue.]
 

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I mean I don't really want to get into an argument but confirmation bred labs and field labs are 2 totally different dogs. While they may be the same breed they are completely different. I would not expect a confirmation bred lab to be lean like a field lab just like a thick field lab wouldn't really work out hunting duck. While I do respect what you are saying about obesity (what I have read) consideration into the breeding also plays a role.

Also speculating that those puppies are obese is kind of far fetched. Puppies are supposed to be tubby as they grow and need that added protein for their bodies to burn. Also from the surrounding I wouldn't be surprised if what Chas said about worms is true.
 

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My sister has a Rat Terrier that she does Agility with so she is very conscious of her weight. You would think she would starve on what she has to feed her to keep her at a good weight. Just a few ounces more of food and she gains a few ounces which can add up quickly. The treats she uses for Agility training are smaller than a small pea so they won't add more weight. She has a scale at home that she weighs her on regularly, if she didn't she would put on a lot of weight before you would really notice it. Her perfect weight is 10 lbs.
 

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Generally, when it comes to a well "conditioned" dog, it's all about the exercise, too many cite diet. Diet is important but you'll never get a a fit dog solely through diet. I guess that is intuitively obvious.
 

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Totally agree DriveDog, varied exercise as well. I cringe when I see a dog that has a bunched gait from not getting more than walking, especially on a poorly use front attaching harness.

jclark, yeah non pudgy puppies are sad. I was so pleased when Echo went from frail to rollypolly. She was still normal for her breed and age.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
FT Chs & "2-yr-old"

the Field Champs are the yellow Labs - M is the rightmost, top row;
bitch is the rightmost, bottom row.

The 2-YO "AKC Champion" is the thing that looks like a cream or biscuit Mastiff, left pic, middle row.// To my eye, he's as ugly as a hog covered in boils. Blecch. // Poor thing - i wonder if he'll be able to walk when he's 5. :(
Heck, i'm sure he barely waddles now, & he's just 24-MO!

- terry

 

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Woah! It's one thing to say it looks overweight and that there might be an issue in the way show lines are heading but wow your decryption is on another level entirely!
 

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Generally, when it comes to a well "conditioned" dog, it's all about the exercise, too many cite diet. Diet is important but you'll never get a a fit dog solely through diet. I guess that is intuitively obvious.

I stress diet because too many people overfeed their dog. Even if they are following the feeding guidelines on the bag they are still overfeeding their dog because the dog is getting more calories then it burns. In my dogs case it was next to impossible to exercise him more till I got some of the weight off, he would simply stop playing or slow to a shuffle on a walk.

What i hate is when people switch to diet dog food, still over feed the dog, and still do not exercise him or her. Don't even get me started on the poor quality of most "diet" dog foods. My former vet tried prescribing one and it was basically cardboard with flavor and vitamins sprinkled on it.:eyeroll:
 

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it was basically cardboard with flavor and vitamins sprinkled on it.:eyeroll:
That's how I feel about Kashi products. :p

I would be happy if the average pet owner just had "normal weight" pets. Fit pets can be owned by those of us who enjoy doing dog sports.

As far as Field vs Show labs, they are basically different breeds at this point. The show lines are stocky, in addition to very often being overweight, they just don't have the same leg. Their tails are super thick, and have huge heads.
 

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I stress diet because too many people overfeed their dog. Even if they are following the feeding guidelines on the bag they are still overfeeding their dog because the dog is getting more calories then it burns. In my dogs case it was next to impossible to exercise him more till I got some of the weight off, he would simply stop playing or slow to a shuffle on a walk.

What i hate is when people switch to diet dog food, still over feed the dog, and still do not exercise him or her. Don't even get me started on the poor quality of most "diet" dog foods. My former vet tried prescribing one and it was basically cardboard with flavor and vitamins sprinkled on it.:eyeroll:
LOL, I'm guessing those guidelines were developed to sell more dog food instead of a dog's best interest in mind.

Shows you how out of the loop I am, I didn't even know there was "diet" dog food. I guess just feeding an overweight dog less is probably not what the kibble makers would want us to do.
 

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Shows you how out of the loop I am, I didn't even know there was "diet" dog food. I guess just feeding an overweight dog less is probably not what the kibble makers would want us to do.
Preach. My dog's current kibble suggests feeding nearly double what they actually eat. They'd be balloons. (Well probably not Levi, he's got a metabolism I would kill for...)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
to TAKE FAT OFF A DOG - the pumpkin diet [plus increased exercise]

just cutting the quantity of food to force wt-loss is very stressful, & can easily create serious unintended fallout -
resource guarding / food guarding in a dog who did *not* previously RG,
snuffling up & eating every bit of garbage they encounter on a walk,
diving into trash-cans at home or abroad to see if there's FOOD in there,
etc. :( None of these is desirable, RG is fixable, but some owners panic & get rid of the dog; eating garbage while outside or from the trash when at home can both cause illness, or worst case, even death: hungry dogs are not choosy, & may eat things that SMELL of food, such as wrappers, containers, plastic bags, foil, etc.
Shards from a plastic container can cut like a knife, & food-film / Saran Wrap or foil can cause intestinal blockages. Any foreign body in the G-I tract can mean surgery to remove it, & repair the damage.

Enter the Pumpkin Diet -
altho GRAS [generally regarded as safe], if U have any concerns whatsoever or if Ur dog has any chronic health issues, check with Ur vet before beginning any wt-loss diet, including this one.


It's very simple:
Measure Ur dog's usual meal, which s/he is fed twice daily, about 12-hours apart.
What it is, doesn't matter - dry kibble, chilled 'wurst', canned, BARF, homecooked, base-plus-protein, _____ .
U are going to replace 1/4 or 1/3 of that volume with plain pumpkin puree.
Simply measure 2/3 or 3/4 the usual volume, & add pumpkin to fill the missing volume.

The dog eats precisely the amount at each meal as they are accustomed to; they do not feel starved, they are not deprived, & they're no more likely to trash-dive or scoff-up garbage along the sidewalk than they were, before.

[If trash-diving or litter-eating was already a habit, or even a sometime thing, work on prevention as well as re-training: put trashcans behind latched doors, or get S/S cans that use a foot-pedal to open & are lockable when no-one is home; pre-condition a box muzzle & have the dog wear it, while on walks.
"Looking dangerous" is way-better than swallowing chicken-bones tossed by some careless slob, & having a perforated intestine.]

Pumpkin is high in insoluble fiber, low in carbs, & smells sweet - 99% of dogs adore the stuff, just stick a [clean] fingertip into the can & offer it, they'll lick it off & look for more. :D

U won't use an entire 15-oz can in one meal, & quite a few dogs are less thrilled when the pumpkin comes cold from the 'frig; for those delicate palates, give the pumpkin 10 to 20-secs in the microwave, depending on the amount, & stir the warmed pumpkin into the dog's meal. The warm version smells appetizing again, & should prompt the dog to eagerly eat it.

To make meal-time easier, pre-measure the pumpkin for several days' meals, or even a week, ahead of time; put the scoops into the wells of an ice-cube tray, or on a small baking sheet, & freeze them briefly. // When they're firm, slide them into a zip-lock bag & lay it flat to continue freezing, so they don't stick together in a messy lump. U can lay the bag on the same pan that the scooped pumpkin chilled on.
Once they freeze solid, burp the bag to get the air out, & it stays in the freezer -- except to remove the portion needed, for each meal. // It will keep for 3 to 6-mos, if airtight.
Put the frozen pumpkin in a microwave-safe glass dish [Pyrex measuring cups work well - just use & rinse] & defrost / warm it slightly. STIR to eliminate hot-spots, & use a spatula to get every last bit out. ;)

The other needed thing? - MORE EXERCISE.
Dogs are exceptionally good at maintaining their weight; i've seen morbidly-obese dogs under direct vet care fail to lose wt, on 50% of their former calories - because the vet staff didn't increase their activity.
Just taking them out to potty & back into a cage was nothing - they needed more movement, *work those muscles*, to lose the fat. // It doesn't need to be aerobic, nor a marathon effort - adding 1/3 to the length of the usual walk is easy & safe, that's 40-mins instead of half an hour.

Overweight dogs should not become weekend Olympians; they need to work up to galloping about, & should just move more than normal, not run sprints or climb mountains.

Low impact exercise
Dogs with joint issues or who are elderly can benefit enormously from low-impact exercise, & wading in water is blissfully cool in warm weather, supportive, & efficient.
Just 10-mins of walking hock-deep in water is the equivalent for a dog of 30-mins running on dry land! - without aggravating joints, overheating, or the frustration of trying to "make" a dog run when s/he wants only to lie down, LOL.

In cold weather, 'home hydrotherapy' for dogs up to 60# can be done in the bathtub, in warm water about chest-deep - lead the dog around in an oval, on leash, reversing every other loop to avoid overworking one side of the body. // Be sure to have an extra-long SAFETY MAT securely attached with suction-cups underfoot, as they need traction to move. ;) The work is pushing thru the column of water, & they can't do it on a slick surface.

For big dogs, some vets have in-house hydrotherapy tubs with adjustable dog-powered ramps that can incline, for harder work - rent some time. :thumbsup:

For dogs of all sizes, ages, or abilities, there are public facilities that provide heated pools for dog sports & rehab - U pay a fee to use them, but it's worth every penny, IMO.

One such facility outside Richmond, VA, has outdoor agility & 3 indoor pools, 2 for sports & one for rehab-only; a staffer will show U how to safely get a dog who's recovering from surgery or an injury into the water, exercised, & safely out.
Services — Paws To Swim

there's also
A place where doggies paddle | Life | richmond.com


Once U know the process, U can solo. :thumbsup:

- terry

 

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Discussion Starter #19
here's a vet's office with an in-house pool for k9 swims...



Services

15 x 29 feet, flotation jackets & toys provided; make an appt & be prepared to get soggy. ;)
Open year-round.

 

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Cutting 1/4 off the amount feed is great if the person is massively overfeeding their dog, but not all of us do, some of us have the misfortune to own a dog that seems to gain weight if they are fed one extra kibble. If I would have cut my boy's food by 1/4 I would have been starving him, and yes he would have been very stressed. Not only that he would have lost weight way, way, too fast.

When he was overweight I was feeding him 1/2 cup of food and 1 heaping tsp of wet food per day, spread out over the course of the day except for the wet food which he got only in the morning. When I cut him back I started feeding him 1/4 and 1/8 cup of food and 1 lv tsp of wet food per day. That little change, combined with not over doing the treats, had him losing weight without feeling like he was starving. He gets fed in puzzle feeders for breakfast and lunch so he has to slow down his eating and it helps him register that he's full, dinner I generally get lazy for and put it in his bowl. Given that he's fed every few hours he does not feel that he's starved.
 
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