Weight loss for you and your dog. Or, more accurately, weight loss for ME and MY dog. You can jump on this train, too, but one of my resolutions was to speak only for myself, hence the clarification.
I spent most of this week at the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) in Florida, working to bring the word of positive reinforcement training to veterinarians and veterinary technicians. While I was there, I go to attend Getting Back Mobility: A New Therapeutic Approach to Managing Joint Conditions by veterinarian Darryl Millis [with a lot of letters behind his name – too many to list, actually]. This talk was all about nutritional management of osteoarthritis (OA).
My yellow Labrador, Tango, suffers from OA and I’m trying to be proactive so I’m not reliant on NSAIDs out of the gate. (NSAID is an easy way to refer to non-sterroidal anti-inflammatory drug.) NSAIDs are great for pain relief, but they can do a number on a dog’s liver if used long-term. Tango’s only 9 1/2 years old – I want to save the NSAIDs for when he’s an old, old man and there aren’t any other options to manage his pain.
I loved this talk because it showed me what veterinarians say to one another – they’re very matter of fact, research driven, and because there isn’t a client in the room, they can stick to just the facts without having to make the words pretty for the dog’s owner. Here’s the most important thing I learned: Weight loss is our #1 tool to manage OA.
Weight loss? Really. Weight loss is free. It doesn’t cost me anything to cut Tango’s calories. It’ll actually save me some money.
I’ve always tried to keep my dogs on the lower end of the normal weight range, but as they (and I) get older, it’s harder to keep those pounds from creeping on. I’ve also been trying to drop 10 pounds that somehow tagged along somewhere in my 4th decade.
Tango’s goal is to be between a 4 and 5 on the body condition scale. He was there a few years ago. To get there, he needs to lose about 6 pounds. For those keeping score, he’s 66.8 pounds today, and we’re working toward 60 – 62 pounds. The lighter, the better as far as OA is concerned. I want to lose 10 pounds. Nothing crazy — just get back to my regular old weight I’ve been all my life (until about 3 years ago).
So Tango and I are making a joint effort (get it? I’m too much sometimes, aren’t I) to lose some pounds. We’ll weigh in every week, tell you what’s working and what’s not on our quest for fewer pounds. How will we do it? The old fashioned way: exercise more, healthier food choices.
Where is your dog on the body condition scale? Have you been successful in dropping your dog’s weight (or your own?)? Share your tips below!
This goes without saying, but I’m a behavior person, not a veterinarian. If you are wondering about your dog’s body condition score, OA, or any other health-related issue, check with your vet. Also, check with your vet before putting your dog on any weight loss or exercise plan.
Brad Waggoner says
Cody had gotten up to 49 lbs. He is now back to a fine 45. I would say he is a 4 /5 on the body condition scale.
Laurie Luck says
It’s easy to let them slide, it happens so slowly you hardly notice it. This OA was a wake-up call to watch the numbers a little more closely. Tango always puts on a few pounds in the winter, but I just need to make sure he takes them back off. Woofs to Cody and his trim 45 pounds! All that hair — he looks like he’d weigh more than that! 🙂 Fluffy dog!
As a positive reinforcement guru, what are some ways to positively reinforce weight loss and having to say NO to the chips and YES to exercise?
Weight Watchers was very effective for me cause I could still sometimes eat “fun” food. Both dogs are right about where they should be–they do all my walks with me (I am a dog walker). But neither one is a senior–Juno is 6 and Kaline is under a year.
Laurie Luck says
This is an EXCELLENT question. This is a complicated topic, with so many positives and negatives. I read a fantastic book that will give you the best answer. It’s called Change Anything. http://www.amazon.com/Change-Anything-Science-Personal-Success/dp/0446573906 That’s not an affiliate link, it’ll take you right to it (no $$ for me if you click on the link, just wanted to make it easy to find).
It’s a quick and easy read and has the best plan and information for changing *anything* you want to change, including eating and exercise habits.
In addition, there’s this cool thing called TAG Teach (www.tagteach.com). You can make yourself a TAGulator made with little beads you move from one side to the other for each good choice you make. At the end of the day, if you’ve got enough beads on the correct side, you get to reward yourself with a little luxury!
For me, I allow myself to read for leisure only when I’m on a piece of exercise equipment. I LOVE to read so I’m linking exercising with reading which makes me want to exercise more. Make your goals tiny and achievable, then REINFORCE yourself for your progress. And, by the way, throw punishment out the window! 🙂
Laurie Luck says
Yes, I did WW for awhile. It was good to see just how much food “cost” in terms of points. For many years all of our dogs were at the low side of normal. As they’ve aged, the weight creeps on. So, it’s a walk a day for us now! 🙂 Thanks for stopping in!
Jana Rade says
Would love to see Tangos new waistline when you achieve it; join the Show Off Your Dog’s Waistline campaign
Caroline Moore says
I dropped fat and increased muscle in myself and my standard poodle (well, he didn’t have much fat to drop) by taking up running. I use the RunKeeper app, which comes with some awesome free training plans built in. I keep myself motivated by signing up for road races; my area has lots of 5k races and a few 10k races, many of which raise money for local charities, so you can feel doubly good about them!
I also have apps on my phone that lead me through a 5 minute ab workout and a 5 minute arm workout. I like those because 5 minutes seems like so little time that it’s easy to get myself to actually do it, but it’s long enough to make a big difference in my physical fitness. Click!
Laurie Luck says
I’ll look for the campaign and check it out! Thanks for the head’s up!
Laurie Luck says
Hi Caroline, thanks for stopping in. I love the idea of running. Unfortunately, Tango can’t take the pounding of the pavement. He has a hard time walking 2 miles without a significant limp. I wil check out the RunKeeper app, though, if I decide to take up running by myself. I really think I need running to get this weight off…