Do you struggle with your dog's weight too?
Nala’s had a weight problem for a while (which I described in the post Is Your Dog Overweight?). Last fall, the vet said she needed to lose about 10 pounds – a lot more than I expected. I figured a few pounds wouldn’t hurt, but that much surprised me. So we started exercising more. We started using the no pull dog harness which made walks much better, so it was a lot more fun to get out and exercise her. But even with the exercise her weight didn't budge. Nala started eating a weight loss dog food and the results were incredible – paired with the exercise, she lost 8 of the 10 pounds suggested within a couple months. Her energy skyrocketed, she was visibly thinner, and her health risks went way down.
Then summer hit.
Here in Arizona, summers are brutal. Nobody wants to spend much time outdoors, much less exercise in it. Our walks got shorter and less strenuous. Even at 10pm it’s 95 degrees out, so though she always started with spunk, Nala’s body language told me pretty clearly she couldn’t handle much. Her dad and I play with her in the house and get her to run a bit in the comfort of air conditioning, but there’s only so much indoor exercise a big dog can get that way. It’s just not enough.
It’s finally starting to cool down – this time of year, not all our days are triple-digit temperatures – but it’s still toasty. I’m trying to work up to longer walks again, it’s a slow process and it's still warm. A few days ago, her dad and I talked about how Nala acts like she’s constantly starving, and maybe we should give her a little more food. Only a half cup more per day, still within the recommended range for weight maintenance, and hopefully not so much that it would reverse the weight loss she’d managed.
Then came her annual exam yesterday. Nala walked up onto the scale and sat like a good girl. The numbers flashed and POOF, I saw all the work we had done disappear as the scale said she gained back the 8 pounds plus 2. Plus 2! I asked this vet, a new one for us, how much he thought she should lose. He said 8-12 pounds would be a good target.
It’s so frustrating. We’ve been working on this for so long. I feel like I’m failing my baby, because her health depends heavily (no pun intended) on keeping an optimal weight. And yet again, we’re losing the battle.
This is one of Nala's health issues we can control. We can’t control the deformed foot we were told would probably cause arthritis, and at an earlier age than otherwise expected. But we can control her weight and how it would impact that arthritis, and it’s going miserably. We’ve had successes, but we’ve had failures too. Up, down, up again, hopefully down again and soon. There’s only one part of this yo-yo that’s good for her, and that’s where I’d like to stay. It’s fall, the temperatures are cooling, and we can get outside for more exercise. I hope Nala enjoyed those 2 days of extra food, because it’s not happening anymore.
I just wish I could tell her it’s for her own good.
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Photo credit: Sini Merikallio