When a Pooch has a Paunch problem!

Here at the Hound Dog Hotel on the Central Coast – elite Pet accommodation with 24/7 care for your VIP (Very Important Pooch) - we take your dog's welfare & health very seriously. Diet and activity are important, which is why we ensure quality exercise every day without fail.

Over the years I've personally cared for hundreds of dogs. Now, a bit like the lady who works in a very famous Lingerie Store in Knightsbridge, London, who can tell a womans bra size just by looking at her -  I can instantly recognise a fit dog from a fat one!

To be fair, when you see your dog every day, rather like ourselves, weight can creep up gradually and it’s not easy to notice. This is why not everyone realises their pet is becoming porky, and I feel a responsibility to flag up overweight dogs when I see them.  However, a dog’s weight is quite a sensitive subject with some owners – some even reluctant to accept their pooch has a paunch problem at all!

The problem is, being obese not only puts severe limitations on the quality of a dog’s life, but it can also lead to unnecessary operations. Even worse, carrying excess kilos can cut short the expected amount of years you’d want your companion to be with you.

In the main when I’ve said to a client their dog is overweight they’ve been grateful to hear an independent view. It often turns out they've harboured concerns that their dog could be a bit on the hefty side. But I must confess, I once lost a client over giving my unsolicited opinion when I went on to suggest her dog needed to lose a considerable amount of poundage.

When I said her lovely dog was being hampered by being a chubby chubster what surprised me was how defensive she became (it wasn’t as if I’d said she was fat!)  Her response was their vet had told her their dog was fine (Seriously? When your dog is like a rotund barrel with at least 7 kilos to lose -  and your vet tells you he’s OK – time to change your vet!)  

I was sad about the outcome as he was a lovely dog. But also, I was giving her info that would have helped him live longer. And not least, up to the point when I brought up the subject of weight, she was beyond thrilled with the service and care I’d given to her dog during his stay.

OK, I guess I am at fault as it’s not my business if a client’s dog is overweight and I should keep quiet – but I’m still not going to! Because although I had this one negative experience, other clients have taken my advice to heart, acted upon it, and now have happier and healthier dogs who will be around a lot longer.

If you are looking for motivation to keep your dog slim, below is the true story of Olive (you can see her in my references section).

Flat Coated Retriever & Slimmer of the Year - Olive with her pal, Australian Bulldog, Turbo at Queenscliff Lagoon on the Northern Beaches

Flat Coated Retriever & Slimmer of the Year - Olive with her pal, Australian Bulldog, Turbo at Queenscliff Lagoon on the Northern Beaches

Olive’s a gorgeous Flat Coated Retriever. Her owners got her as a puppy and meant to exercise her every day. However, events intervened. By their own admission Olive ended up not getting much exercise at all. A year on and Olive was heavily overweight -  and then she began limping badly on her back legs.

The owners took her to the vet who did X-rays. The shocking report was that Olive would need an operation to replace both hips. The owners were devastated. Olive was so young that a double hip replacement seemed drastic, and on top of that the cost was going to be exorbitant.

So Olive’s owners asked if there were any other options. The vet said they could ‘try’ diet and exercise but didn’t seem to hold out much hope that the problem could be fixed that way.

However, the vet had not reckoned with how determined Olive’s owners were!   From that moment they put Olive on a strict weight reducing diet combined with exercise, which they gradually built up over time.

Olive at her home where I looked after her back in 2013

Olive at her home where I looked after her back in 2013

They began with lead walking. When she could eventually be allowed off the leash they never threw sticks or balls so that Olive did not put undue stress on her joints by fast take-offs or sharp turns and stops.

Over the months Olive slimmed right down, and developed a very good fitness level. The most fantastic thing about this was that Olive was no longer lame and never needed that drastic operation.

I can tell you that family were amazing. They stuck to the regime of exercise and strict diet, also limiting tit bits - very hard when Olive was very food focussed. But they kept Olive slim – and above all away from the Vets!!

Keeping your dog to the right weight means your dog will continue to live a long and active life without the severe limitations that weight related illnesses and injuries bring.

Let’s not forget too, as well as the benefits to your furpal, you could benefit your wallet and save yourself literally $1000 at the Vets over the lifetime of your pet!

Happy dog walking! Until next time…..   Maralyn