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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Good evening, everyone!

I come to you seeking counsel and suggestions on how to go about a condition my mother's dog is facing. To give you some background on the dog, her name is Piglet, she is a female 3-year-old pug, and weighs about 25 lbs. My mom has told me that a pug of Piglet's age should weigh about 18 lbs, and regardless, we are pretty certain that Piglet is overweight and so far we have been approaching the problem from that position. However, I wanted to talk a little bit about Piglet and her behavior before we spend too much time working on her diet and potentially ignore what could be a worse ailment. My mother is very attached to her dogs (as all of us pet owners are) and every time she loses a pup she is just devastated, so I thought this community would be a great place to reflect with and draw insight from. I have already taken a read through the stickied dog obesity article and found some great information in there.

Piglet lives with another pug named Toby who is a bit heavier than she is and about two years older, and a small long-haired puppy named Roo who weighs about 10 lbs and is only about a year old (I am unsure of Roo's breed).

To start off with Piglet's symptoms, she seems very lethargic and unwilling to do certain things such as climb steps, which she used to do with no problem until very recently. These problems did not begin with her becoming obese as that condition has existed for a long time; however, I know that just because she has been obese for two years does not mean she needs to have been sick for that entire duration. When Piglet is confronted with a step, she will simply sit and wait on someone to help her. She does not act as if she is in pain whether she is carried or ultimately walks the step(s) herself (although sometimes she flat-out will not) so I think she is having mobility issues related to her weight. She has not been coddled and only very recently started acting as if she cannot triumph a simple 5-inch step.

Recently my mother put Piglet on a diet of 3/4 cup ground turkey, mixed with a very tiny amount of rice, twice daily (for the past five days). My mom is continuing this diet and I am concerned that consuming food intended for humans may make the matter worse in some cases but do not have the experience myself to say for certain. The only thing that I am somewhat certain of is that we should probably be feeding Piglet only 1 of these servings daily, if at all rather than a formulated dog food.

She does not have a lot of additional symptoms, but at the age of only three, we feel that something must be wrong given this recent lethargy and refusal to climb steps. Some questions I have are:

-Has anyone experienced this with their dog? What action did you take? Did you find any solution? What size/breed was your dog? Did you consult a veterinarian?

-Do you agree that this is most likely due to Piglet's weight? What other factors should we investigate (such as a particular kind of parasite)? Piglet is up-to-date on all shots and vaccinations as are recommended and/or required in the state of Maryland under the advice of her veterinarian. Her cohabitants are all up-to-date with the vet in the same manner.

Unfortunately we have had a very select few of our dogs pass a little too suddenly in the past and I want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure that Piglet lives a long and healthy life, but we are not a high-income family so I want to exhaust every possible resource before we opt to have the veterinarian examine her. We suspect the vet will have to board her in order to observe her behavior further and right now the problem doesn't seem urgent, so I'm hoping we can solve this in-home (with the help of a few kind internet friends, of course).

Any feedback or information is helpful - I've only just joined so I'm still making rounds to the various great discussions and informational topics on this forum but, for my mother's sake, I feel a sense of urgency that I cannot salve right now only with reading. Please share any experience or knowledge you have with Piglet's condition. Regardless of her ailment, we are putting Piglet on a diet to help get her in shape in the safest way possible (I am currently researching how to optimize her diet on dogforum now) but I do not want to find that something serious was going on and that we only discomforted Piglet during her final few months. Sorry, we are the worrying sort and I am especially sensitive when it comes to my mother's pets. Thank you so much in advance for any and all information you are able to direct me towards or provide me with!

If you would like any more information on Piglet or her cohabitants, pictures, etc. - please just let me know! Anything that will benefit our pup or add to your enjoyment of aiding us is a request that I will be thrilled to oblige!

Much thanks,
Will
 

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Really sounds like obesity-linked lethargy and related problems. She need a vet assessment before you start dieting or anything like that.

While ground turkey and rice are perfectly fine for dogs to eat (indeed, they're used in a lot of dog foods) you need to look at it this way… if you went on a diet of only turkey and rice… you would start to go downhill after a few days, yeah? Both are healthy foods but where you are eating just those two things and nothing else you miss out on a lot of essential components of a dog's diet like iron, carbohydrate, vitamin c, vitamin b and so-on and so forth. Those who feed raw successfully to their dogs are doing so by feeding the dog a variety of parts from the animal from skin to bones to organs, and then supplementing that with other foods like leafy greens, eggs, rice, etc. It's a complex balance and you have to make sure that your dog gets all the nutrients that they need.

I would simply feed her smaller portions of her normal food for now, book an appointment with the vet and discuss with them a suitable diet and diet food for the dog.

ETA: And just to note, I really don't think that the vet will have to board her to assess her. What he really needs is to take her vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, respiration, affect, reactivity, etc) and probably do a blood draw.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Kelly,
Thank you for the information. Your comments on the nutritional limitations and repetitiveness of the same foods day-after-day are exactly where my concerns with this new diet lied. I've been looking into veterinarians who specialize in canine nutrition and that is our next planned move; however, before we start going through that process I am very interested in some other first-hand accounts in dealing with these problems if they are out there. Unfortunately we've had a problem like this before where the suggested treatment by the veterinarian was a very expensive road to go down that did not help our pet very much, so I'm hoping that people can steer me towards other topics that I should be investigating besides nutrition as well. Thank you so much for your feedback! It means a lot to me that you took the time to write back.
 

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I know that some veterinarians can be duds, but if you're not happy with your current one you need to find a new one. It's really, really important to have her vitals and bloodwork done to rule out obesity-related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, Cushings, etc. Until these stats are known, nobody here can possibly know that they have experienced the same illness as you in their dog. My family was vet-shy as well (and with what I'd consider good reason) but it wound up killing one of our cats who could have been saved by a simple course of antibiotics if we had seen a vet before it was too late.

These things IMO do not require a specialist in diet; this is sort of a next-step referral that a vet may make if it's needed though. Booking a specialist without a referral on the other hand… good luck.

As I said before… If your vet is a dud, you need to go about finding a decent one. You're going to need one at one point or another during the lives of all these animals. Check reviews of your local vets on Google and Yelp. Talk to friends and neighbours, and people at the park to see how they like their vets.
 

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First you need to take her to a veterinarian to make sure that nothing else is going on. All the extra weight could have somehow messed up her joints, just as being massively obese will do to a human. While you are there ask the vet how much her ideal weight should be so you know what to aim for.

Please know that even if she doesn't seem to be in pain she probably is and that's why she doesn't want to do the steps. I used to let my old boy to climb the steps even though I knew he had arthritis, and he'd do so without much problem and do so willingly, the main reason I finally started carrying him up them was that he was slipping on them. A few months later I had to take him to the vet for falling down them before I could stop him, they took an x-ray and I found out that he had severe arthritis. He had never showed any major signs of discomfort besides a bit of a limp when first getting up, I had no idea how much he was actually suffering. So if nothing else take your girl and have her x-rayed to make sure she's alright physically.

Here's a way to look at her weight, if you or I were only 5 lbs overweight it wouldn't be that big of a deal since we'd only be a small precent overweight. When a toy/small breed dog is 5 lbs overweight it's a very big deal since in the case of toy breeds it can mean they are over double their ideal weight. It'd be like a man that should weigh 180 weight 360 lbs. The problem with pugs, and other short muzzled dogs, is that not only does the weight effect their joints it also makes it even harder for them to breathe which might be another reason your girl is so lethargic.

Please tell your mom that it's not good for Piglet to lose weight to fast, doing so can also cause problems, slow and steady weight loss is best. As Kelly said a diet of Turkey and rice is not nutritionally correct, it's fine for a few days but after that the dog needs something healthier. Kibble is fine to feed her. Personally I'd feed her kibble but make sure it's a good quality one that does not contain any corn. Depending on how much she was being fed I'd start by feeding her maybe a teaspoon less then I used to and exercise her for maybe 5 minutes 3 times a day. After 4 or 5 days I'd feed her a little less and exercise her a couple minutes more 3 times a day. What would be bad is to exercise her to much or cut her food to much all at once.
 
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I agree with the others, the first step is to rule out any illnesses and then address her weight issue. Dogs can be in pain and not show signs. If she is all of a sudden not willing to walk the steps there is a definite reason. I would insist that my vet run some tests and if the vet doesn't feel it's necessary I would find another vet who does and then go from there. The Internet is a great place to start looking for a good veterinarian because you can read honest reviews from other pet owners. Good luck
 

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Fellow pug owner here! First of all, I think you're feeding them a little too much. Mine get a 1/2 cup of weight-control food twice a day, plus some random treats. Lola could stand to lose a quarter-pound, but is very close to a spot on target weight. Walter is a lean, mean, pug machine! I would slowly reduce how much food she gets, vary her diet more, or find a good weigh-control kibble she does well on.

Lola occasionally pretends she can't accomplish tasks (like jumping onto the sofa) that I know full well she can do. I used to help her more than I should have so I stopped for the most part, and she does things on her own 95% of the time now. It took a while though, she's stubborn. Since Piglet is already obese, I wouldn't use that method because the extra weight could end up hurting her. Focus on getting her to a healthy weight and definitely definitely definitely take her to a vet before doing anything drastic!
 
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