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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Advice for an Overweight Doberman

Happy Friday all, and very sorry in advance for the long post! So here is my doberlady’s story:

Years ago, my parents got two doberpuppies from South Africa and brought them to Mozambique, where we live. I was explicitly against this as our previous dog had recently died and I knew that we were not fit to be looking after more dogs.

Anyway they were raised here while my brother and I were away in school in SA. They were never really neglected, but they were overfed and very rarely taken for walks (although they had full access to a nice garden).

I graduated and came back home, and so did my brother. One of the dobies died unfortunately at 6 years due to an unspecified liver disease. Now my brother and I have taken over caring for the remaining dobergirl. However, she is and always has been overweight. Now I know that the obvious solution is to increase exercise and cut down on food. But please hear me out.

Regarding exercise: By the time my brother and I started taking her for regular walks, she was arthritic and quite old (8). A number of times she had problems with individual legs (swelling, stiffness, etc.), which meant that she was struggling to run for a few weeks until medicine worked. During this time, she would gain more weight. Now she has recently had her back leg amputated because of cancer, and her activity has to be restricted for weeks. This means more time to put on weight, and tripod dogs HAVE to be slim.

Once she is healed, we will resume our weekly walks, but can only push these to twice a week. My brother works full time and gets home very late. I work at home so I keep her company, but I do not have access to transport and cannot take her for walks in the neighborhood because of the stray dog problem here (not to mention that once, when we were taking our first dog for a walk near our house, a privately owned dog pushed open its gate and attacked our dog!) We don’t also have access to dog exercise programs or swimming pools.

Regarding food: her appetite is way too good, even during sickness. We feed her significantly less than what is recommended for her age, breed and size, splitting it into 4 meals. Apart from that, she gets a cooked bone once a week and a small biscuit or 2 each day. We can always cut down more on food, but she literally cries and we can’t distract her attention away from it.

About her: despite being overweight, she has always been very energetic and playful. She is also (generally) very healthy, which the vets here have commented on, and has recovered from illnesses remarkably well.

Advice I am looking for: We need to cut calories, and fast. Does anyone have suggestions for how to do so without the obvious “reduce food and increase exercise”? For example, I recently read that if you replace a portion of your dog’s regular food with green beans and carrots, then they won’t feel as if they’re starving. Have just started doing this and it sort of works.

**Please understand that I love my Doberman more than anything or anyone. I know that this story does not paint a pretty picture of us as dog owners, but my brother and I are trying our best to correct a mistake that my parents made when we were only teenagers.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 05:46 AM
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stop the cooked bones. cooked bones are dangerous.

green beans in the food are probably your best bet, here. do you have a lake or a pool she can go in? water therapy can help without putting extra pressure on those joints, too.

“I am the sea witch. I am the tide you fear and the turning you can't deny. I am the sound of the waves running over your bones on the beach, little man, and I am not amused at finding you on my doorstep.”
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, I had no idea that cooked bones were dangerous! Is it because of the bone fragments?

I've tried green beans a few times now and she eats them very reluctantly. Do you know of any other healthy human food that I can use to replace the dog food? There are plenty of articles online but some of them are conflicting.

Sorry I know my post was quite long to wade through, but I mentioned that we don't have access to a pool (nor lake), which is a pity because that would be the best. We have tried to get her to swim in shallow ocean water but she's not keen on that. Anyway, we stopped trying after hearing of incidents of people getting caught in quicksand on the shoreline!!
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 07:41 AM
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yes, when cooked they become brittle and can shatter.

i honestly think this is going to remain a difficult thing for you, because she's been trained to eat tons and tons and tons of what *she* wants. now that she's an old lady, she's trying to train you to let her continue.

i missed that - i saw your post at 6am my time, and i tend to skim a bit more when i'm not awake.

“I am the sea witch. I am the tide you fear and the turning you can't deny. I am the sound of the waves running over your bones on the beach, little man, and I am not amused at finding you on my doorstep.”
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 10:08 AM
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It is very simple- good quality food and a scale. You can go by the bag recommendation of feeding amounts and adjust to her activity.
Feed consistent amounts daily and weigh her , if her weight increases then cut back until you find the right amount that maintains her weight and go from there.
This is a long process but it will work.
Have you checked her thyroid?
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 10:31 AM
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You say she is overweight but how much? Are we talking 5 kg? 10kg?? More? Pictures would help us get an idea. And while I applaud you for taking steps to make sure your dobergirl is as healthy as possible, it's also good to remember that she's an old dame that's recently been through a hard time with cancer so you don't want to be too hard on her (you post indicates you're aware of this, I'm just pointing it out as a reminded to always be cognizant of it).
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 10:56 AM
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You could try doing canine conditioning stuff at home. There are programs for dogs recovering from surgery or having other issues, so you vary the intensity. I took an online class from Fenzi Dog Sports academy and really liked it. You can either buy premade equipment from a compnay like fitpaws, or use stuff you already have at home (like couch cushions for an unstable surface).

You could use the kibble you normally feed her as meals as reward for doing these exercises, to avoid giving her extra treats.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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@alan We started with dry Pedigree food and then started adding canned food to that (giving less than the bag recommendation). After some tummy troubles, a South African vet recommended switching to Eukanuba Intestinal, which she seems to like.

I just checked the recommendation on this bag, which is around 330 grams per day for her ideal weight range. We’re now giving her between 200-250 grams per day, so still well below the recommendation (we were giving her a bit more before the amputation + a bit of canned food, so hopefully the reduction will slim her down once she can start exercising freely).

I’m glad you brought up thyroid because I was wondering if that has something to do with her weight. But apart from being overweight, she has absolutely no other symptoms so I ruled that out. Perhaps I should double-check with the vet though.

@engstrom Before the amputation, we weighed her at the vet and she was around 42 kg (92 lbs.). It had never ever been this high before and this increase was definitely due the leg problems for the last few months. So I’d say that she needs to lose at least 5kg but I don’t know if I can expect more because, as you say, she is old now and I definitely don’t want her to be miserable about reduced food.

I don’t think she needs to be Doberman-slim (and don’t know if that’s possible now), but just needs to be slim enough so as not to put any extra pressure on her remaining legs.

@scorning – Fenzi Dog Sports look awesome and has courses specifically suitable for our situation! Thank you, will definitely look into that one
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 01:19 PM
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My 11 year old lab is arthritic. Some days he could barely get up off the floor and he gained a lot of weight despite not being fed very much. We changed his food to a senior dog food, added a single tinned sardine/mackerel fillet plus oil to his food three or four times per week (reducing kibble on these days) and added chondroitin and glucosamine tablets to his evening meals. These are also available in human form and are perfectly safe. 3 months later he was chasing a tennis ball again and now hiking 6 miles with me and my dobe. As a result he's lost a lot of weight (he has his waist back!) I kid you not, it's incredible.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 01:22 PM
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And another thing you might want to try is to puree the green beans. I had a Berner with some health issues and in order to keep his weight down we fed him green beans. At first he would pick around the beans but after we started pureeing them and stirring into his kibble he started eating them more readily.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like my dobie is not digesting carrots and green beans well, although she seems to be enjoying them. I am giving them to her fresh and cut into small pieces. Perhaps I should cook and then puree them like engstrom suggests?
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by izzyabraham View Post
Looks like my dobie is not digesting carrots and green beans well, although she seems to be enjoying them. I am giving them to her fresh and cut into small pieces. Perhaps I should cook and then puree them like engstrom suggests?
Raw veggies are very tough for dogs to digest - their intestinal track is just too short to be able to handle them. Cooking will help quite a bit (as will pureeing them).
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-09-2016, 04:54 PM
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If you’re giving them purely for weight loss, you’re simply trying to fill her belly. Even if the beans are not being digested (they come out looking like green beans, sorry to be gross), if they’re not giving her gas or diarrhea, I would think it would be alright to keep giving them to her like that.

Cooking them will help her digest them and that is what you should do, if she is having digestive upsets with uncooked veggies--but it will also mean that more calories will be available to her(of course, nothing like the same volume of kibble would have.)

Canned might be a good medium between cooked and uncooked. Just make sure they have no added salt.

From Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? - A-Z Vets

"GREEN BEANS IN HIS BOWL​

One way to serve up green beans as part of your dog’s menu is to add them to his regular food. Remember that cutting back calories too far, as well as cutting back other nutrients contained in his food, can be just as harmful as being overweight, so do not make green beans the main component of his meal.

Feed the amount of his food that is recommended for his target weight, and add a handful of green beans. Steamed fresh green beans will retain more nutrients, but frozen and canned variations will also do the job of filling up his growling tummy.

When buying canned green beans, opt for those with no added salt. Whichever type you choose, shred or grind the green beans before mixing them with his food. The uniformly sized contents of his dish will make digestion easier.​“

I noticed it said feed the amount of kibble for the intended target weight. Of course, if she’s really obese you might have to do that by steps.

Also see http://www.dogquestions.org/dog-trea...at-green-beans

Last edited by melbrod; 03-09-2016 at 04:57 PM.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-10-2016, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice engstrom & melbrod! I have started using a food processor and will see how that works out. I'd prefer not to start cooking them, as some of the nutrients will be lost.

I didn't want to mention it, but since you did first, they are coming out whole and dark green/orange in her stool So sorry to be explicit!! I panicked when I saw that so rushed to the forums for help. Glad it is not dangerous (no diarrhea or gas).

At the moment, I am feeding just a bit less kibble that's recommended for her target weight and then adding a bit of raw green beans and carrot. I'm feeding less because she can't yet exercise due to the surgery and because she needs to lose weight fast.

It's working because someone who hasn't seen her in 4-5 days commented that she lost weight. She's not obese but is definitely overweight, so hopefully she'll keep losing. She seems to not mind the food reduction anymore, but is a little depressed because we're not allowing her to race around or chase anything.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-10-2016, 10:51 AM
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You don't want fast weight loss, but more of a slow controlled weight loss.

Dogs cannot break down cellulose which makes up the cell walls of plant life. That's why you cook or process before feeding, to break up the cell walls for the dog.

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight | Whole Dog Journal

All dogs deserve a good home

Subscribe to this newsletter first:
http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/

How to select a good dog kibble
https://boxerworld.com/forums/pages/...-dry-dog-food/

Dog food information:
http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/
http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=main

Diet additives and Raw diet information
http://www.dogaware.com/articles/index.html

Last edited by LindaH; 03-10-2016 at 10:55 AM.
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