Overweight dog help. Please! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 04:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I looked for a Pet forum but didn't see one. Please move this thread if it is in the wrong place.

My family got a dog off of freecycle today. She's a 2yo lab/heeler mix. The family we got her from adopted her from the humane society but their house is too small for her and their other dog and their three kids. I'm totally not a dog person, but my boys have been begging for one so we adopted her for them. She's a really sweet, mellow dog who has been cared for well but is overweight. She's about a foot and a half tall and weighs 52 pounds. She is clearly overweight and not nearly as active as I would expect a dog of her breeding to be. My husband took her on a walk tonight, about half a mile round-trip, and she almost collapsed from exhaustion when they got back.

I was thinking about getting her one of those reduced fat diet doggy foods but have read in a few places on the Internet that those aren't good for dogs. I talked to some neighbors with dogs and they all said that they feed their dogs two cups of food in the morning, so that sounds reasonable. I certainly don't want to starve her, but I'm thinking maybe just 1.5 cups? Also, how much exercise does she need. She'll be an indoor/outdoor dog. I plan for her to spend much of the day in our fenced in backyard (with plenty of shade) and take her for walks twice a day. Is this too much? Not enough? How far should I walk her?

I haven't had a dog since I was a kid. We had an American foxhound and my dad took care of her. I want to be a good dog owner but I feel like a new mom right now!

Also, she is "crate trained". I'm not really sure what exactly that means. Her previous owners said that she sleeps in her crate and that she doesn't have accidents in the crate but occasionally does outside of the crate. Does that mean that we close the crate at night and if we aren't at home?

Another random question-- once we get used to her we'd like to take her to the beach. There is a beach on the North Shore where there are always dogs. Will she puke if she's in the car for too long? It takes about 45 minutes to get up there. We had her out back with some other neighborhood dogs and she did fine-- no barking or biting or chasing or anything like that.

How often do we bathe her?

Okay, I think that is all. Any general dog-ownership tips would be greatly appreciated. I already know not to leave her unattended with my baby, but that is about all.

Thanks in advance. I know I said I'm not a dog person, but I'm already in love with her; more than my kids, I think.
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#2 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 04:46 AM
 
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Wow, good list of questions! I'm typing one handed as my wide awake babe is in the other hand.
Dog food; amount completely depends on the quality of food. What is she on & do you know what is available in your area?
1.5 c a day should be more than enough as long as it's a high quality food. Light dogfoods are fine if they are high quality. I would feed her 1 cup of a high quality food and give her carrots and rice cakes as low cal fillerupers if she seems hungry.
Excercise, sounds like she's pretty out of shape and just like a human, you have to work up gradually. So do a 1/4 mile walk twice a day for a few days and then build her up. Fetching where she will run flat out and stop is excellent excercise to build her cardio tolerance.
If she's crate trained but still has some accidents out side of the crate then yes, close the door at night and when you go out.
Car rides, start her slow, 5 min and work your way up--swimming is the perfect excercise for an overweight dog btw.
Bath her when she's stinky or dirty looking, use good quality dog shampoo, do not use human shampoo--not even baby shampoo.
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#3 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 04:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!

I don't know much about what kind of food is available, and I'm not sure what she came with. It was bought in bulk and in a regular bucket with no label. My neighbors use Iams. Is that a good brand?

Why not human shampoo? I washed my mom's dog with Pantene once and my dad had a fit, although he wasn't clear on why you shouldn't do that.
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#4 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 05:06 AM
 
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Dogs and humans have completely different skin and hair ph, so whats good for you isn't neccesarily good for Fido.
Iams is ok, expensive for what you get in my not so humble opinion.
Some to look for; California Natural, Innova (use senior formula-blue bag), Wellness, Solid Gold, Natural Life or Nutro.
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#5 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 09:25 AM
 
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With a seriously overweight dog who weighs 52 pounds, I wouldn't cut back to 1 1/2 cups - it doesn't seem like enough to me. My 22 pound 16" dog eats about that much. I'd also recommend Nutro or Cal. Natural - they both have a reduced calorie food. I'd suspect the dog is overweight because of too much people food and not enough exercise. I'd just cut out the people food and let the kids gently play with her as much as she'll tolerate. You don't want her to lose weight too quickly - that can cause as many problems as it solves, so go slow - a 1/4 pound a week reduction is OK!

As far as puking in the car... it totally depends on the dog, not the distance. I had one dog that puked by the end of the driveway every time her whole life & another that doesn't ever have a problem and sleeps thru every trip.

Be careful about taking your dog to a dog beach - it can be fun, but supervise your dog very closely! Accidents happen... dogs sometimes don't like each other...

Be sure to take obedience classes with her! It's just not good to have any dog be uuncontrollable with bad manners. Gentle training makes every dog a better family member. Also, brush, brush, brush that coat (maybe even while feeding)... esp. with little kids around, you want the dog to get really comfortable with being pulled and poked and prodded. Also check for posessiveness/agressiveness - be sure you can easily take away the food bowl & toys, etc.

Have fun & love her up!!
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#6 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 10:14 AM
 
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Just a suggestion, but when we had to put our cat on a diet, we fed him twice a day so that he wasn't going 24hours without food. So we gave him 1/2 of what the vet said in the morning and 1/2 at night.
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#7 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 10:25 AM
 
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Beth, I'm guessing you have a dog with an incredibly high metabolism. If you have a 22 lb dog eating 1.5 cups a day and it's one of the higher quality foods, that is a HUGE amount of food for a little dog.
My 110 lb Shepherd eats 2 cups a day of Innova (he is old--and fat) and his daughter who is young and extremely active eats between 2.5 and 3 cups a day.
Even the feeding guidlines on a bag of Iams only recomends roughly 1.5 cups of food for a dog the size of the OP (you always go by ideal weight, not be current weight)
I board dogs here and I just went through my files for dogs weighing what your guy weighs and in 6 yrs I've never had a dog that weighs under 25 lbs eating more than a cup of food per day (with the exception of a cocker spaniel that was eating dog chow)
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#8 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 02:16 PM
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I've always fed my dogs twice a day - IMO it's easier on their systems and they don't get as hungry.

I have a 72 pound lab and a 45 pound border collie, and they each each 3 cups of food a day (1.5 cups am and pm). The BC is 5 times as active as the lab, who is 12+ and tends to put on weight... they're at their perfect weights now, but when we got them the bc was 39 and the lab was 82. I feed the Costco premium brand - I used to feed Nutro (same amounts), but compared labels and found that the Costco brand was almost exactly the same for half the price... love Costco. I also just picked up a great dog bed there for $19.

We only bathe our dogs 3-4 times a year. The lab has very sparse fur and with my "teflon-coated" bc, things don't stick much, although I do some "spot-cleaning" on her after she plays in the mud sometimes.

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#9 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the advice. After much Internet research, including your replies, and talking to other dog owners I've decided that I'm going to give her 1/2 cup twice a day. We'll use the food we have first and then get the Costco brand. I'm going to start walking her .25 miles twice a day until she seems ready for more.

She's a pretty passive dog. She snapped at my 3yo last night when he tried to take her bone, but she doesn't seem overly possessive. We're talking to the kids a LOT about leaving her alone when she has something in her mouth and staying away from her face. We are not leaving her alone with the baby at ALL. One of them goes with me if I leave the room. She stays with us very well. I took her outside this morning, out front, and she started toward the road after a dog and came back when I called her. I think we will do an obidience school with her this summer. Overall she's well-behaved, though.

I don't think I could go that long without bathing her! We live in Hawaii where it is hot and our yard gets rather muddy, so I'm thinking once a week if she doesn't mind. I can't stand even the slightest "dog" smell.
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#10 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I can't bathe her as often as I'd like. I'm reading that you shouldn't bathe them more than once a month.
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#11 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 05:47 PM
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I've never permitted a dog to be food aggressive like that. Rain or I could walk in and take anything our dogs were eating, and they'll permit it. They recognize us as above them in the pack. I would not allow a dog of mine to snap at anyone, especially a child, and especially if the child lived with that dog.

I don't think that's enough food - even the bag on the Costco food we have recommends 2-2.5 cups a day for a 30-40 pound dog. Did you ask what she was getting to eat before that, and maybe you could start by decreasing that by half a cup or so? A dog that's not getting enough to eat can develop behavior problems, from being hungry. That's just MHO, though... and you'll probably be giving her more exercise than she was used to, too.

As far as baths, you can dust the dog's coat with some cormstarch and brush it out in between baths, I think, to absorb some of the odors. I've never done it myself, but then I don't even notice a bit of dogginess in the air anymore...

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#12 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 05:59 PM
 
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I honestly dont think 1/2 c of food is enough, especially if you dont know what brnad it is. If it was Innova or Wellness that could be fine but since you're not sure, maybe try 3/4 cup or 1 cup two times a day. Try giving carrots or rice cakes like Shannon suggested and dont give her any extra biscuits or high calorie treats until she slims down some. My oldest dog Lady was pretty overweight too and I started cutting back her food to 1 cup in the AM and 1 cup at night and she has slimmed down quite a bit and is now much more active. She is also a lab mix. She can handle almost a mile walk now without getting out of breath.

I dont think you should allow the dog to be food possesive. We have 3 dogs and I can play with their food bowl and their toys and they just sit back and wait till i"m done. Granted, they've gotten used to it from when they were babies, but still, it's not safe for your kids. You should also teach her to sit when you're going to feed her so that she gets the idea that you are the boss and YOU decide when and what she eats. There's lots of good info on the net, Shannon should be able to help you find good ones.

I am part of a great labrador retriever/lab mix board that is really into positive training and natural foods that I would be glad to give you a link to if you PM me. Thanks for adopting an older dog! Good luck!

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#13 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She doesn't start to eat until you have walked away from her food bowl, so I don't think that is going to be an issue. We'll watch it. This morning my son took her bone again and she didn't snap, so I don't know if maybe that was just because she didn't know him. What should I do when she snaps if she does it again? For now she's eating outside away from the kids.

They were feeding her almost a whole bowl, about 3.5 to 4 cups a day, and I got the impression that they left the bowl out all day. That is just way too much, and I think even 3 cups a day is too much. She's really fat. I'm going to schedule an appointment with the vet this week to talk about the food because I'm not comfortable just guessing. Until then, I'm going to give her 1 cup in the morning and half a cup in the afternoon. If she seems hungry between feedings I'll give her rice cakes, etc. I'm not comfortable feeding her as much as they were even for a week.

Any links would be greatly appreciated. I took her for a walk this morning and she did really well. She stopped when I stopped and came along with just the slightest nudge on the leash. We went barely a quarter mile and she made it, but she's wiped out now. I got her to chase a ball for a while this morning. I'm going to talk to the vet about her activity level, too. One of the reasons I've been relucatant to get a dog is that I don't really like the smaller breeds and I didn't want a larger dog because I felt like it was cruel to keep them trapped in a house all day, especially breeds that need to be outside running. This is exactly why! I want her to be healthy and active, but I don't want to overdo it so soon.

She slept in her crate last night with the door closed and we didn't hear a peep out of her. This morning she hung out in there for a while even after I opened the door. She's such a good dog! I'm much better suited to care for an older dog that has already been trained to some degree. She's a much better match for our family than a tiny puppy would be.
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#14 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 06:34 PM
 
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I would mix more veggies and different types like brocolli, green beans, and feed 2 x a day and pick up the bowl after 20 minutes. I think Wysong, Solid Gold, Innova, Canidae, Flint River Ranch are good foods. Its hard to say how many cups a dog needs as it depends on a lot of factors including the brand of food and their metabolism but would definitely cut down the amount of kibble and add more veggies but especially green leafy veggies.

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#15 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 06:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mothra
I looked for a Pet forum but didn't see one. Please move this thread if it is in the wrong place.

My family got a dog off of freecycle today. She's a 2yo lab/heeler mix. The family we got her from adopted her from the humane society but their house is too small for her and their other dog and their three kids. I'm totally not a dog person, but my boys have been begging for one so we adopted her for them. She's a really sweet, mellow dog who has been cared for well but is overweight. She's about a foot and a half tall and weighs 52 pounds. She is clearly overweight and not nearly as active as I would expect a dog of her breeding to be. My husband took her on a walk tonight, about half a mile round-trip, and she almost collapsed from exhaustion when they got back.
YAY for adopting a mixed breed older dog into your family!! Allow me to thank you for her! Thanks!!!!!
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I was thinking about getting her one of those reduced fat diet doggy foods but have read in a few places on the Internet that those aren't good for dogs. I talked to some neighbors with dogs and they all said that they feed their dogs two cups of food in the morning, so that sounds reasonable. I certainly don't want to starve her, but I'm thinking maybe just 1.5 cups? Also, how much exercise does she need. She'll be an indoor/outdoor dog. I plan for her to spend much of the day in our fenced in backyard (with plenty of shade) and take her for walks twice a day. Is this too much? Not enough? How far should I walk her?
Great questions. I don't think reduced fat dog foods are bad. I think being overweight will cause her a whole host of problems though (liver, diabetes, skin problems, arthritis...). Sounds like you are committed to helping her get healthy again - sweet! I think Nutro's has a reduced fat variety...I had great luck with their regular food before. My dog is around 47 pounds, and she gets 1 c. twice a day. It's better to feed twice a day than everything at once. Two walks a day is great - more than most dogs get. I'm sure she will be very happy! I would be careful about how long the walks are at first, ITA with the PP who suggested just a 1/4 mile at first gradually increasing over time.
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I haven't had a dog since I was a kid. We had an American foxhound and my dad took care of her. I want to be a good dog owner but I feel like a new mom right now!

Also, she is "crate trained". I'm not really sure what exactly that means. Her previous owners said that she sleeps in her crate and that she doesn't have accidents in the crate but occasionally does outside of the crate. Does that mean that we close the crate at night and if we aren't at home?

Another random question-- once we get used to her we'd like to take her to the beach. There is a beach on the North Shore where there are always dogs. Will she puke if she's in the car for too long? It takes about 45 minutes to get up there. We had her out back with some other neighborhood dogs and she did fine-- no barking or biting or chasing or anything like that.
That's great, but continue to keep an eye on her. Once she settles in more she may feel more comfortable testing her boundaries if you know what I mean. My (blue heeler/beagle) Gracie was wicked shy and loved everyone at first and now protects the house like it's hers, won't let men in the door unless I yell at her, and is nippy with kids. Not trying to scare you at all (Gracie gets on well as long as her space is respected), just reminding to be vigilant until you get to know your new family member.

As for puking in the car - hold off on feeding her until after you get there. This is what I do with Gracie when we go on car trips.
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How often do we bathe her?
We do baths when necessary - when they get fleas, roll in goose poo, get sprayed by skunks etc. Otherwise...meh.
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Okay, I think that is all. Any general dog-ownership tips would be greatly appreciated. I already know not to leave her unattended with my baby, but that is about all.

Thanks in advance. I know I said I'm not a dog person, but I'm already in love with her; more than my kids, I think.
Enjoy your new friend!!

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#16 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 06:51 PM
 
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I can't think of the guy's name, Mark something or other, Martha Stewart really liked him and had him on her show a couple of times, and got him started with his own show...He's this animal lover, his show comes on in the morning on weekends I think. Anyways, I think he was saying that dogs should eat a dog food with the main ingredient being lamb or beef, rather than corn, because dogs are supposed to be more of meat eaters or some such thing. He said that there are dog foods that are "junk food" and should only be given as a special treat on the rare occassion.
My step brother told us about when they got their dog, the whole family laid her down with their hand over the back of her neck and growled at her to let them know that she was at the bottom of the pack and was supposed to listen to them. But, she was a puppy so I don't know how well that would work for an older dog.
The latest issue of men's health features an article with the "dog whisperer" or something. I haven't read it, it was my dad's mag. I was just flipping through but you might want to check it out. It might be on their website.

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#17 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 07:27 PM
 
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I'm pmming you the link to the lab board so you can go check it out and have somewhere to ask more dog questions.

Sounds like she does well in the crate and on leash, that's awesome. And it is a great idea to go to the vet's office so they can put you on a good food and tell you how to get her at a good weight.

Congrats!

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#18 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 11:12 PM
 
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desertpenquin, foods with beef are fairly rare, the most common protein source is chicken, then lamb, then fish, beef is not too common, which is too bad, my boy does really well on beef, but with the new baby, I just don't have time to mix up raw for them, so they will have to get by on Innova, the primary protein sources for that food are chicken adn turkey.
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#19 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 11:19 PM
 
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Destinye, OT a bit, but do you really like Wysong?? I've never fed it myself, but we used to sell it when I owned our pet health food store. To just read the ingredients it does nothing for me, uses grain fractions, etc. HOwever, I always noticed the Wysong users were almost cult like in their dedication to the good. I just would look at the product and the price and when compared to Innova or Canidae that were priced lower, I couldn't see the draw to it--but I've always wanted an opinion from someone else on it, the clients I asked usually just said "that's what my breeder told me to feed". There dogs all had nice coats but nothing spectacular-we sold the most amount of Natura products in Canada and I strongly believe it was because people would come in and see our 2 dogs in the store, neither shed, their coats were SO shiny and Havoc was on Innova adn Murphy was on Cal Nat.
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#20 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 11:34 PM
 
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Destinye, OT a bit, but do you really like Wysong?? I've never fed it myself, but we used to sell it when I owned our pet health food store. To just read the ingredients it does nothing for me, uses grain fractions, etc. HOwever, I always noticed the Wysong users were almost cult like in their dedication to the good. I just would look at the product and the price and when compared to Innova or Canidae that were priced lower, I couldn't see the draw to it--but I've always wanted an opinion from someone else on it, the clients I asked usually just said "that's what my breeder told me to feed". There dogs all had nice coats but nothing spectacular-we sold the most amount of Natura products in Canada and I strongly believe it was because people would come in and see our 2 dogs in the store, neither shed, their coats were SO shiny and Havoc was on Innova adn Murphy was on Cal Nat.
I think the main thing is I trust the quality of ingredients but I do agree about the grain. I like the non-kibble meat based Wysong products though. I do like Innova/California Natural too, and used to sell Solid Gold, but am not as keen on it as I was. My dog's did great on it for a long time then they made some big changes and they never did as well. I was looking at Karma too but don't have anyone that has used it. I also recommend Nature's Variety products.

I wish I could see a really outstanding kibble though but I don't really so far!

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#21 of 23 Old 05-14-2005, 11:50 PM
 
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Yeah, I'm always looking for something new too, I'm glad to hear someone else had troubles with Solid Gold, Havoc was originally on it but as a young working dog I just couldn't keep weight on him with it and his energy level wasn't great, he failed his endourance test for schutzhund, when I put him on Innova he went up to 98 lbs which is his perfect weight and passed his endourance test with no issues, he didn't even seem tired when we had to do the obedience routine after the bike.
I used to really like Natural Life's performance food, my shepherd before Havoc was on that and she did great, kept her a nice weight and super well muscled in spite of the worst hips most vets had ever seen. With that food, shark cart, and glucosamine she managed to get titled to a French Ring III (which involves some pretty serious jumping) She never limped a day in her life-then when she was 6 she managed to eat a bottle of my percription anti-arthritics that the cleaning lady had knocked down on the floor adn she died
I haven't heard of Karma before, a new one I'm seeing lots of here is Natures Balance but I haven't looked into it. I have to start looking for something new, Havoc is hardly eating anything and he just keeps getting fatter. For the last couple weeks he's been getting one cup of Innova Senior and 1 cup of a raw veggie slurry I make him with broc, spinach, carrots, beans and a tiny bit of sweet potatoe, haven't seen any improvment though and their coats aren't what they used to be.
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#22 of 23 Old 05-15-2005, 12:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by shannon0218
I haven't heard of Karma before, a new one I'm seeing lots of here is Natures Balance but I haven't looked into it. I have to start looking for something new, Havoc is hardly eating anything and he just keeps getting fatter. For the last couple weeks he's been getting one cup of Innova Senior and 1 cup of a raw veggie slurry I make him with broc, spinach, carrots, beans and a tiny bit of sweet potatoe, haven't seen any improvment though and their coats aren't what they used to be.
Thats so sad about your previous dog. Karma is organic and made by Natura and have a few people mention it to me but no direct experience. The veggie slurry sounds great! I have not tried Natural Balance except the cat food and my cats did ok on it. My dogs however really liked the little meat based sausage type food they make as a treat! I don't know why it popped into my mind and am sure you have had it checked but how is Havoc's thyroid? Maybe his metabolism is just slow because he is older (and I know how that goes lol)!

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#23 of 23 Old 05-15-2005, 01:12 PM
 
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Yeah, his thyroid is borderline low. We put him on Synthroid anyway and even on supplementation he's still borderline low (although a little higher than without) On the thyroid though, when he was a year old, he was really lethargic and loosing some coat etc, we tested his thyroid and it was VERY low, 3 mos later I retested him and it was a little high, so I lowered his dose, I kept lowering his dose and redoing the blood work until he was no longer on meds and his thyroid function was perfect, it was very strange.
Anyway, he is on thyroid supplementation, along with Solid Gold Seameal for a natural boost, but he's still a fatty He gained the weight when he ruptured a disc in his back. He was completely down and nobody wanted to do surgery on him because of his size, I was getting ready to ship him out to Steve Lane in Colorado (I used to work with him when he was in Ontario) but eventually something started working-we were doing chiro, accupuncture, massage and had him on pred. It was a long road and I have no idea which treatment actually started to work, but he did walk again and as long as he sees his chiro every other week now, he's fine.
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