Fat Dogs


Some time over the last year the dogs and I have gained weight. It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure.  But how had we, my three Border Collies and I, bulked up in size?

Last week I took them all to the vet. His first statement as each dog was brought into the examining room was, “Wow, he (or she) is fat!”  Sigh.  I thought of that old commercial where the grocery store attendant tells the fat woman that she needs Fit and Trim.  The woman sucks in her breath in anger and the attendant then adds, “For your dogs.”

I’ve been on a search for the Holy Grail of dog foods for the last year. Over a year ago Fromm dog food wasn’t helping my dogs anymore and I changed over to Canidae grainless.  Clue #1.  When the grainless scare picked up last year I got them off Canidae grainless to the Canidae Chicken All Stages.  Clue #2.  They started to gain weight during the changeover even though I only feed each dog one-third of a cup twice a day.  Bodie, my blond Border Collie, then became a bit sluggish on that diet.  Some friends recommended Dr. Tim’s Momentum which is higher protein and it did give him an added spark…along with more calories and he gained some more.  Clue #3.  Now I have him on a mix of Dr. Tim’s and the Canidae Chicken All Stages and the girls just eat the Canidae.

The vet did a complete blood panel on each dog because he thought that maybe they had thyroid problems but everything came back fine. So no clues there.

Just like with people who develop weight problems it must come down to exercise. Tom is side-lined because of a leg problem but she’s always been a high energy girl, always on the move.  Even she has now gained although not as much as the others.

The Border Collies and I walk in the back two acres every single morning. This morning I tried to get back into my old habit of training the dogs right after the walk, before I eat breakfast.  Bodie is training for his Utility title which involves more jumping and running than the lower levels.  I can see that he is having a problem getting over the twenty inch jumps.  Razz has been on semi-retirement until I had her hips x-rayed as she slammed a jump last summer for no reason.   My vet discovered that she has the beginning of arthritis in her back.  But this morning I set the jumps to ten inches and worked her in the Utility exercises.  She was so excited and ran and played with her reward, a yellow tennis ball.  Okay, so more exercise is in store for all of us.

When I first moved here I had a black and white Border Collie named Mickey. He loved to play with big plastic balls and could entertain himself for hours.  He’d push his nose under it and throw the twenty-four inch ball up in to the air and around the yard.  Last year I bought one for my crew but none of them took an interest.  I stored the ball in the training building but yesterday took it out to see if they were interested in a game of chase.  That idea didn’t go over too well.  Tommie absolutely did not want anything to do with the ball.  Razzie was off sniffing the ground and looking for squirrels.  Bodie liked it when I kicked the ball and it went up into the air.  He’d run over and grab the rubber handle and then stand there and look at me.  Oh, no, I realized.  He has never learned the concept of playing with a toy without direction from me.  Once he got to the ball he wanted to know what to do with it.  Each walk outside now I’m encouraging him to move it further and further on his own.  This morning I noticed that the ball had moved across the field so maybe in time he’ll figure it for himself.  Note to self, encourage the next puppy to self-play with acceptable toys.

The other day at the library I found a good book, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar.  He discusses the study of circadian rhythms and how they can be used to give us better health.  If it works for humans it must work for dogs.  Today is my first day using the information in his book to my advantage, to gain more energy and even sleep deeper and longer at night.  When I feel better the dogs can benefit too with more run time in the back yard.

That still leaves the question of what to feed my dogs to get them back to their optimal weight. They were doing fine at one time with Fromm.  I think Fromm made some changes which eventually didn’t seem to work well with my dogs.  But I’m considering going back to it.  Each dog gets a tablespoon of yogurt now in the evening, plus Platinum Performance CJ for their hips.  I’m giving them toy rewards in training and backing way off on food treats.  (I know that will shock my friends.)

Since this is the digital age and advice, either asked for or unwanted, is rampant I hope someone can give me some more clues or ideas on how to get my dogs back to being slender working animals.

As for me, I’m kind of going off on my own tangent on the subject of weight gain.  No sugar, wheat, alcohol, and on and on and on.  Just insert the word NO in front of all food.  I think my doctor may have said something about tons more exercise.  Yah, like at sixty-eight I want to run a marathon.  Sigh.

8 thoughts on “Fat Dogs

  1. Since our moving off the farm my dogs get way too little exercise IMO. They weigh more than they did then but as you mentioned, they are older now. I find when I notice weight beginning to show in them I cut back on their treats. I only feed their regular kibble for treats and only give them one tiny piece each time I treat. In no time the healthy weight returns. If only it were that easy for me to lose the weight 😊. I checked with my Vet about the grain free diet scare and she assured me what they are consuming is of no concern in that regard. She believes it is the right kibble for them. It’s Science Diet Grain Free Chicken and sweet potato. She said a kibble that is high in lentils is the one to avoid.


  2. I’ve started doing the same thing when I give them treats, only a piece or two of kibble instead of the liver treats, etc. At some point I’ll make own sweet potato treats for them for training purposes.
    The other day I bought some Alkaline 88 Water for myself. Omg. It tastes so much better than the Florida piped in water. So something else to change with my pets, better water.


  3. as a dog obedience instructor, I saw a lot of fat dogs…..and I think the best advice is to “feed them less”. In your case as your dogs are getting older, maybe they just need less food ?


  4. They get a third of a cup twice a day. My vet said one dog’s protein level was a bit low so he suggested I feed more. I haven’t.
    They are 3, 4, and five. So not too old.
    A mystery.


  5. I agree…. that isn’t much food that size dog…..(I use fromm gold, too),

    I do think dogs need fat in their food, and with the anti-grain trend, fat tends to come out of food.

    I try to keep an label one a year or so to compare to past year’s formula. (Fromm gold fairly new to me and if course, THAT idea one I don’t have. But it’s a good practice.

    Good luck on your quest…


    • I talked to the vet about the Fromm Gold Weight Maintenance. He thought it’s a good idea to slowly change over.
      While there I weighed my hyper BC and she had dropped down a bit through rationing and more exercise.
      Thanks for the advice!


  6. I just rescued a somewhat body senior shepherd mix and vet said to lose 5-10% body weight. Because of potential skin problems, I researched good foods that had never been recalled and decided on Zignature Turkey. I’ve read that chicken can cause skin problems. I break all LITTLE treats in half and she only gets a couple when grooming or training. That means a couple halves maybe 3 times a week. Since her meal intake is cut back to 1/2 c. twice a day, I sure don’t want to negate all that diet work by giving her treats. I also am 65 and not in great shape. My dogs get one 1/2 walk a day, sometimes 2 when the weather is beautiful, because my shepherd rescue will only eliminate on a walk. Which means she always gets one! Rain or shine, in sickness or in health.


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