Canine obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems for dogs today. Just like people, dogs carrying those extra pounds place extra strain on virtually all organs of their bodies.
Many of us don’t think of our dogs as obese though, myself included. I remember taking one of my English Bulldogs to the vet with a torn ACL and being told she needed to loose several pounds to relieve the stress on her joints, the first comments out of my mouth was “You know she’s an English Bulldog, right?” English Bulldogs are noted for their rolly polly appearance; short fat and always frowning makes them one of the most recognizable breeds in the U.S.
It wasn’t until several months later that my male Bulldog, Maddox began having problems. His vet again warned me that he needed to loose weight but we passed it off as his getting up there in age. Maddox showed several of the warning signs of obesity (Decreased stamina, heat intolerance, difficulty breathing, digestive problems and fat folds of skin) however these are also typical traits of the English Bulldog.
It wasn’t until his front legs slipped out from under him that it hit home- as much as I preach about keeping pets lean, I was the owner of 2 severely obese dogs!
As I sat on the floor hugging my old guy, I realized we needed to devise a serious weight loss program and FAST!
First step- we needed to look at his food. I called my dear friend Nadine, owner of Natural Pawz and went over his feeding habits with her. He’s on a very low calorie, quality food, check. He doesn’t get table scraps, check. We give treats sparingly, check. He eats several times throughout the day as we gets hungry- uh-oh! First step to the beach body was to get them on smaller meal sizes 3 times a day.
New feeding plan-
3 cups dry food over 3 meals daily.
Replace the remaining 20% of his daily meals with canned pumpkin and cooked low sodium green beans.
Treats- carrots, green beans or frozen canned pumpkin chunks.
Second step- his exercise routine. This one was pretty non-existent and consisted of getting out of bed, going outside for a bathroom break and walking to his food bowl. Maddox is a brachycephalic dog breed (flat faced) and is very sensitive to both cold and hot weather making outdoor exercise limited. The heat combined with the extra weight and strain on his joints left us very few exercise options. We decided to start swimming! (The majority of English
Bulldogs CANNOT Swim by themselves and Maddox is one of them). With a life jacket in tow we started his new exercise routine. To say the first week swimming was difficult is an understatement. Maddox DID NOT LIKE the pool! It was cold, he had to be held up which left my legs exposed to his frantic kicking, he would get out and take off running (chasing down and carrying a 75lb angry, wet Bulldog back into a cold pool isn’t easy). We persisted though.
New exercise routine-
5 min, twice a day swimming for the first week then moving up to 10 min, twice a day.
Maddox lost a pound his very first week followed by 2 more pounds as the month progressed!
Maddox also began showing signs of improvement with his stiffness and was becoming more frisky so we decided to add more exercise to the game plan- we needed a treadmill! I’m not an exercising kinda gal and I’m well aware that in time the treadmill would turn into a place to hang clothes and sport gear so spending a ton of money was out of the question.
Knowing that I’m not the only one would give up on a treadmill, I turned to my community Facebook group asking for help. I sent out a post asking if anyone in the neighborhood had a treadmill they would be willing to sell. It didn’t need to have any bells or whistles or be nice to look at for that matter; I only needed a safe treadmill to help my dog loose weight.
After a few days someone posted that they had a treadmill they wanted to get rid of- for free! We rushed over to get it and came home giddy with anticipation over the weight loss that would come by this treadmill! We set it up in the bedroom with 2 fans blowing on high speed, harnessed Maddox up and turned on. He’s not thrilled with the treadmill to say the least but I can’t say I’ve known anyone who is thrilled to be on a diet and exercise program.
We’re happy to say that between the diet and exercise, Maddox has lost 3 pounds this month! He also willingly gets into the pool for his swimming exercise and even the kids are getting involved helping him get into shape. While we still have a long way to go, we have a real sense of satisfaction seeing our Maddox moving better and off to great start towards being a healthier pet.