My family just adopted a dear, sweet 3-year old yellow lab – Chloe – who has fit right into our family like she has always been with us. The poor thing however, has more than a few lbs to lose. Her previous owners didn’t walk her too often (as they admitted) and she regularly got into the family’s food – in the garbage, on the counter, from the baby’s highchair. Well, those days are over as we are conducting our own “Biggest Loser” program for Chloe (of course we are not going that extreme). While she may be adorable in her chubby state, it’s for her own health that we help her to slim down a bit. In addition to obvious reasons such as dogs who are not overweight have more energy, labs are prone to joint problems and hip dysplasia - both conditions are aggravated by excess weight.
We have had her for almost a month and she has already lost at least 5 pounds. The way for dogs to lose weight is the same as people - less food, more exercise! Here is what we are doing – not rocket science, but it will help her to live a longer, healthier, more active life:
Establish two feeding times a day, no free feeding. This was interesting because when we first got Chloe she wasn’t interested in dry food at all, I think she was so used to grabbing food from the counter. After just a few days, however, she was eating breakfast and dinner when the bowl of food was presented to her.
No people food. I know some people feed their dogs from their plates, but this doesn’t work for us. Our kids know to not give her any food, and we are vigilant with keeping food out of her reach.
Exercise! We started by taking Chloe for 2 or 3 short walks each day. Her tongue would be hanging past her chin after about five minutes. Now she has jogged 3 miles with me a few times, and she is still keeping a good pace at the finish.
Lay off the dog treats. My kids love giving the dogs treats, but I have to tell them to lay off. They break the treats in half to keep rewards in check. Small pieces of apples and carrots are just as rewarding for dogs as well.