Diets for Dogs

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Peanut with Her Toy

My vet has been after me about my pug’s weight for a while now. Sure, she’s a little portly, but pugs are supposed to be a little on the hefty side, aren’t they? I tell my vet I’ll try to get her to lose a few pounds, but between my two sons, who love feeding her bits of whatever they happen to be eating (as long as it doesn’t contain any of the off-limits foods for dogs, which they are well-aware of) and my parents, who consider my dogs four-legged grandkids and (as my dog and kid-sitters while I’m at work) regularly give them not just dog treats, but breakfasts that consist of scrambled eggs with cheese and boiled carrots (I have some sneaking suspicion about bacon, as well), getting this dog to slim down has been mission improbable.

To add insult to injury, I’ve recently discovered that my darling pug, after finishing all of the food in her bowl, is sneaking off to where my Chihuahua eats and pushing her aside to finish off whatever is left in her bowl. I think she has been doing this for a while now – I only noticed because I happened to catch her in the act. My poor Chihuahua was cowering under the dining room table, watching her food get devoured.

Knowing this, when I came across a recent Wall Street Journal article about pet obesity, I had to read it. It turns out that my pudgy pug isn’t alone – more than half of the pets in the US are overweight. Apparently, we enjoy feeding our pets. The article recommends exercise for pets – that’s great, but my pug is my dog for a reason: we both hate exercise. I once tried to take her on a hike while camping. After about 20 minutes of walking, she staged a protest. She sprawled out on the ground and refused to budge. We took a break, gave her some water, waited about 10 minutes – she still wouldn’t move. I ended up carrying her back to our campsite. (It was early spring and it was cool out, so I can rule out overheating and conclude that she’s just lazy. And after carrying her for nearly a mile…she is also very heavy. Okay, so maybe the vet has a point.)

After checking out ideal weights for dogs, it turns out that my 24-pound pug should really be 13 to 18 pounds. Wow, do we have some work to do!

If you also have an overweight pet, get him to exercise (even if it is very short, frequent walks, such as in my pug’s case). Enjoy yoga? Try doing yoga with your dog. Some apartment complexes now offer their very own dog parks – if you live in one, take advantage of this and let your dog run off-leash for a while and play with other dogs. If your apartment community doesn’t have a dog park, find one nearby and visit it on weekends. Monitor your dog’s diet and try to keep treats to a minimum.

Sure, a roly-poly pet is cute, but all of that extra weight can cause serious health issues. I explained to my kids and my parents that Peanut is on a diet and to ignore her big, pleading eyes when she stands in the pantry and barks at her food container (yes, she does this) and not to listen when she shoves her empty food dish back and forth across the kitchen floor (a ceramic bowl skidding across ceramic tile can create quite the ruckus, and she enjoys doing this, also). I have to take her back to the vet very soon and I don’t want him to give me a disapproving look as he (once again) tells me how much weight she (still) needs to lose. Believe me–I know.