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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! I am looking for a food that will serve a specific purpose. My dog gains weight pretty easily, and while I would like him to stay lean, I'd like him to increase his core strength and overall muscling. I ordered Bully Max, but would like to have a lean food that will help him gain muscle but not fat. He also can't have any poultry at all and I'd like to stay away from grains. Any suggestions?

 

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@Dawnben He's eating Merrick right now and it's 38% protein, as is Orijen, so I'm not sure it would make much of a difference to switch to that particular food.
 

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He goes running with me 3-4x a week and the other days he either swims or plays fetching games. He also runs around with the other dog for hours every day. I'm trying to teach him to sit pretty to work on his core, and when we walk I also have him carry weight. I am looking into getting into weight pull.
 

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Have you thought about prey model raw? Weight gain is a lean weight, and it does build natural muscle definition. The protein level is around 17-20% because of the moisture content.

Fed correctly, it's nothing more than a variety of raw meat/bones/organs. No grains.
 

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As far as exercises, body awareness exercises build phenomenal muscle. Balancing exercises (I'm a huge fan of FitPaws, but couch cushions work well too). Walking along logs, lifting paws independently, targeting with rear paws, sit pretty, tall, walking on hind legs, etc etc.
 

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Food supports increases in muscle mass, it doesn't cause it.

FWIW He looks totally healthy to me in the pic
 

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Food supports increases in muscle mass, it doesn't cause it.

FWIW He looks totally healthy to me in the pic
Let me clarify a little bit.. The problem I have right now is he eats very little right now, and if he loses weight, he loses muscle too. If he gains weight, he gains fat. I was hoping to get some input on how much protein vs. fat and fiber he should get and what food might have that. He's a healthy weight right now, it's just really difficult to feed him because I only feed him a 1 1/5 cups a day and he acts hungry all the time so I started adding pumpkin daily, which has helped him feel fuller longer, but at night he starts up with the hunger whining again. If I feed him any more than that, he seems to start getting a padding on his ribs again. I was hoping there was a formula that would make it easier to gain muscle, but difficult to gain fat. I am also looking into getting him a thyroid panel done because he's super active and barely eats anything, yet is always teetering on the edge of too much fat.
 

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I am also looking into getting him a thyroid panel done because he's super active and barely eats anything, yet is always teetering on the edge of too much fat.
If you're going to do a thyroid panel, make sure to add the TSH and T3 to get a better look. T4 can be normal, and typically all that's done by a vet but the rest can be out of whack.

Naturalfed mentioned raw. Properly done, you get the best muscle definition. Lower protein, whole fats etc.
 

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If you're going to do a thyroid panel, make sure to add the TSH and T3 to get a better look. T4 can be normal, and typically all that's done by a vet but the rest can be out of whack.

Naturalfed mentioned raw. Properly done, you get the best muscle definition. Lower protein, whole fats etc.
I would LOVE to do a strictly raw diet, but I rent a room in a house and share freezer space, so I can't have a bunch of meat taking up room. I have thought about I and Love and You, and have tried it before, but he goes through it so quickly that It's hardly worth the expensive cost.
 

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If your dog is getting a lot of exercise but is eating little and STILL gaining 'fatty' weight, you are right to have a thyroid panel done. As mentioned make sure you ask for both a T3 AND a T4........ Exercise and protein should produce better muscle mass not fat!

Swimming and playing with a spring pole or flirt pole are great for conditioning btw!


P.S. Even feeding just a few raw meals a week in addition to kibble will benefit your dog especially his teeh if you give him raw meaty bones!
 

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He looks a little bit heavy in the pic you showed, not obese, but not very lean, either. Part of that could just be his natural build (lab like? You're never going to get a big tuck up and ripped appearance that some thinner skinned dogs get), but to me he doesn't look to have horrible muscle tone, just flat muscle with a bit of fat on top. If he's the sort of dog who has flat muscles, there's not too much that will make him look super muscular, and that won't mean that he's not fit, just that he's a different kind of fit than a dog who's bulging with muscles (those dogs also tend to be quicker to fatigue and overheat IME, so there are tradeoffs).

That said, the last few years, I've been fattening Bus up in the winter a bit because he's a little guy and gets cold, plus I don't really want to be out freezing my butt off either. The weight gain (of less than a lb) is a combination of less exercise and more food, if needed (depending on how much he's eating when we begin "hibernation"). Then in spring, as we become more active, I like to peel that little bit of extra weight back off, and increase his exercise so he gets back to "normal" for him. If he's really a pudge coming into the getting fit period, I may cut his food a bit (not more than a quarter less) for a few days prior to increasing his exercise, then increase the food again with the exercise. He might go from maintaining as a couch potato in 3/4 cup of food in early spring, to eating 2 cups/day + extra scraps in mid spring and fall. Swimming in cold water in late spring/fall really cuts fat off, and sometimes I need to limit his time doing that because the volume of food needed to keep up with his caloric needs is too much (he's only 13 lbs and can be eating 2+ cups a day still losing weight). I've found that the absolute best exercise for building muscle and fitness (and tiring him out!) is running in chest deep water, as he's pushing the water, slogging through the sand, but it's still low impact, and because he's in cool water, can do it for a while without risk of overheating. He does tend to build bulky muscle, so I try to keep that in mind and exercise accordingly. He gets lots of walking, swimming, trotting with the bike, and running while searching for his ball (rather than sprinting after it on a throw). If I were looking to increase bulky muscle, I'd prioritize sprinting, pulling on the leash or a light weight, pushing/wrestling heavy toys (boomer ball, big toys) and running in low water. He does some of that stuff, but I balance it out with other stuff to try to keep him on the leaner side.

I don't know what's in bully max, but most Am Bullies are genetically predisposed to bulky, heavy muscling. It's impressive to look at, but not really the best for an actual athletic dog, and I doubt that the supplementation really has all that much to do with it. Since most of them aren't really functional dogs (prone to overheating, have breathing issues, bodies not made to hold up to exercise), I wouldn't worry too much about matching their appearance.

In your boy's case, I think I would try to get his weight down a little bit by increasing "slow" exercise, like walking/trotting and swimming, then you can try increasing his food and adding more exercises to try to build heavier muscle if you want.

I've found that Bus tends to hold weight better with more carbs, and lose weight more easily with less. His muscle tone stays pretty much the same regardless of what he's eating, as long as he's getting enough calories- if not, he starts to look more flat and bony than fit, though his energy level stays the same. When I got him, he weighed over 20 lbs, and I put him on a grain free canned food to get his weight down (first 1/4 can, then increased as his exercise load increased to moderate his weight loss then maintain when he was at a good weight). Eventually I found that he was eating an exorbitant of food to maintain at "thin" weight, so I tried a few different things until we came to our current plan. Granted, I also give lots of scraps, some healthy (fish- whole and fillets, breakfast and meat scraps, etc) and some not (pizza crusts, chips), so that affects things too. It may be worth trying a low carb diet like raw or canned food only/mostly to see if that affects his weight/muscle tone.

I'm currently bringing him back into shape from being on (semi) restricted activity after he hurt his neck, and we've been doing leash walks (up to 2+ miles, a good part of it uphill) and swimming as the water quality allows it. I was a little surprised the other day when I noticed that despite only light exercise, he's already getting a nice slab of muscling over his ribs, and along his spine is filling in a bit (usually the last place to muscle up for him). So don't underestimate slow/easy exercise for its ability to build muscle.

On the other side of the coin, my old dog, Annie has always been the consummate athlete, as a younger dog, she could go all day and still be ready for more. She's never been a particularly muscular looking dog though, and it would take tons of exercise to get her to look like Bus looks now with minimal work. That said, she could run circles around him after 1/2 hour or so of exercise on a hot day, even at 8 years his senior- so there's something to be said for lean, flat muscle tone :)
 
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