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Liz Langham, MS, CPDT-KA
239 Mountfort Rd.
North Yarmouth, ME 04097
207 837 1613
treefrogfarm@gmail.com
The Biggest Loser Pet Version

Can you imagine the newest season of The Biggest Loser involving an overweight owner and her overweight dog rather than overweight family or friend teams? Obscene, don’t you think? Surprisingly, there are many overweight dogs out there. In fact, 25% of American dogs are considered obese.

Historically, dogs were scavengers and opportunists. They were able to survive by catching prey and eating scraps. Within the early to mid 20th century, dogs were farm dogs or ran the neighborhood. Weight gain was not an issue. Today, with necessary leash laws and suburban living, traditional lifestyles of dogs are no longer feasible. Many dogs are regarded as family members and companions and are on the same 9-5 schedule as the owners are. Unfortunately, from 9-5 the dog is sleeping, not working. These days, running the neighborhood involves two 30 minute, on-leash, walks/day.

What causes obesity in dogs? Frequently the same thing that causes obesity in humans: over-eating, under-exercise, and possible health issues. Most dogs don’t regulate their body weight and will eat what is offered: feed bag serving size suggestions (frequently the dog food bags will suggest the owner feed the dog more than the dog’s body requirements), table scraps, cat food, bedtime biscuits,…..

Results of obesity in dogs include: diabetes mellitus, damage to joints, bones, and ligaments, heart disease and increased blood pressure, difficulty breathing, decreased stamina, heat intolerance, decreased liver function, increased surgical and anesthesia risk, reproductive problems, digestive disorders, increased incidence of cancer…Sound familiar?

All of the above stated side-effects of obesity parallel the problems that humans experience. Though we can work on our own weight issues, our dogs cannot. They will eat what we offer and they will walk when we walk and they will run when we give them the opportunity.

Preventing overweight dogs is easier than taking weight off a dog. To prevent excess weight we must feed according to developmental stages (a younger pup requires more calories than an older dog, whose metabolism has slowed). Feed according to the activity level; the more activity, the more calories necessary.

So how does The Biggest Loser Dog Version take place? Commit to taking your weight bearing dog and self out for a walk. Start off slowly and increase duration and intensity over time. Regulate your dogs diet according to his age and activity level. If you use treats in training, back away from the amount of food you feed him at mealtimes. Break treats into fractions rather than wholes; large dog biscuits may be equivalent to an entire meal requirement, without the nutritional value.

Today I was fortunate to be able to go out for a walk with my two dogs. I was out for about 1.5hrs. I walked about 4 miles and my dogs probably doubled that. They were off-leash and swam, ran, and hunted squirrels. By the end of the walk, the tongues were hanging-out and when they got home, slept peacefully in the living room. We all got our exercise and I got the perk of having tired dogs!

Written by Liz Langhan
Liz Langham MS, CPDT-KA is the owner of Tree Frog Farm Dog Training and Agility in North Yarmouth, ME. She has been training dogs and their people since 1994. Liz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, mother of three, Master Gardener, and the guardian of 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 guinea pig, and 11 chickens. Tree Frog Farm Personalized Dog Training and Agility Farm
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