Does your dog have any medical conditions related to his/her weight?
What do you currently feed and how much? Any food allergies?
How much exercise does your dog get each day?
These 5 key questions help us create the appropriate meal plan to give their dog the best chance at achieving weight loss. The reason I say “best chance” is that you, as your dog’s owner, control what goes into your dog’s body, for the most part. So if you feed our meals and then overload on treats, weight loss may be slow or non-existent. Sorry for being harsh, but sometimes the truth hurts.
Why do we ask what your dog’s ideal weight should be? Well, we use that “goal weight” in conjunction with the amount of exercise your dog gets to determine the amount of calories we will include in the daily/weekly meals. Our meal plans feed your dog to that goal weight. What do we mean by that? Well, let’s use Chase as our example. When he came to us this past August, his weight was about 57 pounds. His goal weight is 40 pounds. His meals are prepared to feed a dog that weighs 40 pounds. Slowly but surely, his weight is decreasing. His daily meal portions are about 18 ounces of our raw bars. This is a nice volume of food when compared to a premium kibble where he might only be allowed 6-7 ounces per meal, based upon a calorie to calorie comparison. The volume also helps in another aspect – it gives Chase’s parents the feeling that he is getting enough to eat. In the past, they felt they were depriving him of food. This did not lead to a successful outcome. We needed to change the plan to achieve success. Here’s a photo of what Chase’s daily meals look like- One large bar and one small bar for breakfast and repeat for dinner.
Some dogs get secondary medical conditions based upon their weight. Chase was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Other dogs can develop pain in their joints, skin irritation, heart issues – and the list goes on. We ask about these issues during the initial consultation so we can select the proper ingredients for the meals.
Food allergies plague many dogs these days and we want to be sure not to include any specific items that may cause an issue for the dog. The most common ingredient we’re seeing that causes food allergies is chicken. I’m convinced the chicken allergy is a direct result of it being used in so many commercial brands of food. A dog that has shown signs of chicken sensitivity when eating large brands of pet food may not show the same signs when eating our food. Perhaps it’s because we don’t include any by products, etc. We just use real chicken, like the chicken you would buy when you go out to dinner. This is not true for all dogs, but for more than 80% of our clients.
Treats are another crucial part of portion control. In yesterday’s blog, I shared the first time I met Chase’s parents and the number of bags of treats I saw in their home. This can be a very dangerous temptation for you, as the dog owner. Feeling a little guilty because you had to work late, aww, my baby would probably feel better with a piece of XX. Look how cute my baby is looking at me – here’s a treat. This picture really shows how quickly calories can add up. Our freeze dried treats are shown on the left and a very popular soft beef jerky treat is shown on the right. This treat is sold at the large warehouse stores and is made in the USA.
Here are the comparisons:
Calories – both have about 60 calories- 10 of our treats or one strip of jerky.
Weight – both come in at .80 ounces.
It’s so easy to grab one of these jerky strips, break it into a couple of pieces and hand it out. For a dog that weighs 20 pounds, one of these treats equals 10 % of the total caloric intake he should have in one day. Think about that – would you reduce your dog’s meal or just feed him as you normally would? My guess is that dinner would be served just like it always is.
Look, I’ve been there. I’ve lived this. Lucy, our rescue, came to us with a fear of just about everything around her. So, when she went into her crate when I asked, wow, what a good girl, here’s a treat. You listened when I asked you to go potty, here’s another treat (way past the puppy stage I might add). We started to do some agility training to build her confidence and our trainer came right out and asked me – Does Lucy have a waist in there? I’m sure she does. I had no idea what she was talking about. Well, my sweet girl had porked up to 78 pounds. Her ideal weight is 60! It was all my fault and I needed to fix it. I had to become more thoughtful when it came to “treat dispensing” and that meant for both me and my husband. I portioned out the amount of treats she could have in a day, adjusted her food (this was before Your Pet Chef), and in 6 month, we hit that 60 pound mark – really 58. We went each week for a weigh in to track our progress. It was as hard on me as it was on Lucy. I had all of the same thoughts and feelings as Chase’s parents – I’m starving her, she needs more to eat, etc. We’ll discuss this more in tomorrow’s blog.
Thanks for reading today’s blog. Join us for Part 3 – The Look tomorrow.