My husband and I recently welcomed a new dog into the pack (oh, joy!). I won’t mention that brings the total pups to…umm…five in the Baker Prince household! Ok, I guess I will mention it.
Lacy came to us a few weeks ago after her owner passed away, and we’re thrilled we could offer her a home.
What I’m not so thrilled about is that the pretty lady is packing some serious girth on that eleven-and-a-half-year-old frame. Don’t’ get me wrong – I’m all for curves in the right places, but this is bordering on unhealthy. So it was time to call in some resources and put together a plan to help me with Lacy’s weight loss journey.
Step One: Visit my vet. Poor Lacy, I’ve already given her age and now I’m going to share her weight with the world (which is different from sharing the weight of the world with her, but I digress). Sorry, sweet pup, can’t hide these secrets when your health is at risk.
We went to visit the lovely Dr. Chan at Abrahams Veterinary Clinic to get a weight AND to make sure Lacy’s ”curviness” wasn’t due to a medical issue. A simple thyroid test, commonly called a T4 panel in vet lingo, measures the thyroid levels. Hypothyroid can cause dogs to gain weight, act lethargic and trigger changes in the skin (dry and flaky) and coat (brittle hair or even hair loss).
Are here’s what we found out:
Weight – 60 pounds
Thyroid – well within the normal range
Body Condition Score – about an 8. (Check out this handy visual to see where your pet stacks up: Body Condition Score)
Step Two: Visit to the groomer. So, okay, not really necessary in Lacy’s weight loss, but she felt better and looked so much better. And, hey, even losing a couple of ounces of hair helps, right? Jade Williams of Austin Pet Stylist did an amazing job.
Step Three: Monitoring her food intake. With no medical reason to explain Lacy’s weight, turns out it was all due to too many calories and not enough movement (just like me when I put on a few pounds ;)). Now, Lacy enjoys Horizon Pulsar and my homemade raw diet. She eats out of food puzzles (for example: Kongs, the TreatStik, Kibble Nibble, and Magic Mushroom) to help burn a few extra calories by working the food out of the toy.
Step Four: A more active lifestyle. We started slow with 20-30 minutes of walking everyday. Her EZ Walk harness helped those walks go much easier for both of us. We are now, after 4 weeks, up to about 50-60 minutes of walking. But walking isn’t the only thing we enjoy – a nice game of fetch helps make exercise fun, too.
DogBoy’s helps play an important role in slimming down my sweet girl. Lacy regularly attends daycare (playing with dog friends and building muscles, that’s a win-win in our book!). And with this spring rain, the pond at DogBoy’s has been a great place to swim off some calories while being gentle on her joints.
Step Five: Mental exercises. We are also currently in Lydia’s Sunday Foundations Class (which I’ve nicknamed “Learn and Burn”), where we are getting all sorts of mental stimulation (I use tiny, itty-bit treats and part of her dinner but Lacy doesn’t mind – she’s just happy to be working with me). Keeping her brilliant Border Collie brain active is definitely great exercise (and the skills and working relationship we’re developing isn’t too shabby!).
So, how is this plan working? Exactly three weeks after our first weigh in, we’re down 3.2 pounds. But what I’ve noticed the most is Lacy seems really happy. Her breathing is more regulated (before, she would pant heavily even while lying around). And she wants to get out and walk, play ball and visit her friends at DogBoy’s.
Look for us out walking (we’ll be sure to wave and say hello!), in classes or at daycare. I’ll check back in a bit to let you know about our further progress.
If you’d like some help getting your pup slimmed down, download our Diet Sheet, or reach out to us. We’d love to help!
Blog post and photos by Paula Baker Prince, CPDT-KA, Director of Training