Oscar’s Tips for a Happier, Healthier, Slimmer Pup

27 May

According to PetMD, over 50% of pets in American households are either overweight or obese and Oscar represents just one of the millions of dogs packing extra pounds.

Eye on the prize, baby.

Oscar never had a greyhound’s body to begin with. Nope. He’s robust. Husky. Big-boned. But I noticed his body changing over the span of our two years together. There were subtle hints like his waist disappearing, his stamina decreasing and his love handles forming.

I confess. I found chubby Oscar to be just as cute as naturally robust Oscar and I got a kick out of comparing him to harbor seal basking on the sand, but the seriousness of his weight finally hit home when I realized he would be riddled with health problems if I didn’t take action. I cringe to imagine what would happen if he developed arthritis or diabetes from something that could have been prevented.

Instead of tackling Oscar’s excess weight with a diet, I confronted the situation with a lifestyle change. I’m so happy to report that after one month of implementing the following objectives, Oscar has more endurance, more energy and less weight. Here’s to a slimmer, sexier Oscar!

  • Less food. Both humans and pets gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn. Restricting food was going to be tough for this four-legged foodie, so I limited his food intake by 10% the first couple of weeks and cut another 5% when he started to plateau. We’re still working our way up to a 20% food reduction. 😉
  • More exercise. I think the heading speaks for itself. Oscar rebuilt his stamina with short treadmill sessions. We started with 5-minute bursts and worked our way up to 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes! Now he can keep up with me and trot around the park’s perimeter without getting too winded.
  • You don’t have to eliminate treats! I knew completely restricting treats wouldn’t fly. Zuke’s Mini Bakes saved Oscar’s life! Seek smaller portions of your pet’s favorite treats or switch to treats intended for training. They’re usually smaller and have fewer calories per bite.
  • Keep a food blog/journal. Writing down everything that makes its way into Oscar’s belly helps me keep track of what he’s eaten. It’s a lot like counting calories! I document even the tiniest crumb.
  • Beware of begging. Describing Oscar as “food-motivated” would be the understatement of the century. He is shameless when it comes to begging (please refer to the photograph below for an example of his antics). Whenever something yummy is in sight, he’ll drop everything for a bite. Curbing his requests is still a work in progress.

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23 Responses to “Oscar’s Tips for a Happier, Healthier, Slimmer Pup”

  1. raisingdaisy May 27, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    AWWWW it’s got to be SO hard to resist that sweet little begging face!! I’d have to wear a blindfold!

    These are all great suggestions – not too different than the steps humans take to lose weight! Daisy’s too young to have any weight issues yet, but it probably won’t be a problem because her sensitive tummy keeps her restricted to dog food and treats pretty exclusively, and we’re careful how much we give her. Rarely do we let her try something new – the price we pay is too high!

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      I’m trying to develop an immunity towards Oscar’s begging face, but it’s pretty tough! A blindfold would definitely come in handy. 😉

  2. SandySays1 May 27, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Oscah & Pauline,
    The exercise thing is BIG! That’s for canines and humans. I started getting OW so my human doubled the distance we walked each day – it took pounds off both of us. Oh, also lay off the human leftovers. Its normally a lot more fattening for us canines that those two-leggers.
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      I admit, it’s the human food that’s leading to Oscar’s weight gain. Tiny bites of chicken, banana and sweet potato add up! I’m cutting down his human food consumption slowly so he isn’t completely devastated. 🙂

  3. 2browndawgs May 27, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Very good suggestions. Good for you for working on keeping Oscar healthy. But really who can resist that face?

    We are always watching the 2 brown dawg’s weight. Now that they are running and swimming more it is easier to keep them lean than it was during the winter months when they were not able to exercise as much. We buy the very same Zuke’s treats. We buy the smallest treats we can find, (that way they can have a few of them). They do not get table food, (except Storm will get boiled chicken breast for her bait at a dog show :)).

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Isn’t Zuke’s a fantastic company? I love their line of products.

      I hear ya—It’s so hard keeping up with an exercise regime during the cooler months when the nippy weather just makes us want to bundle up and sleep. Oscar hops on the treadmill when it’s raining or too cold for a walk, but it isn’t the same!

  4. Snoopy@snoopysdogblog.com May 27, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Oscar,

    It must be so hard for your Mum to resist that cute face, but you know it’s for your own good!!

    My Mum has the opposite problem as I’m not bothered about eating, plus I run most days and if not a run then always a long walk, so she worries whether I get enough! I may look big, but for me it’s all fluff 🙂

    Do you like ice cubes? I get those lots cos I like them but they’re a great no calorie treat 🙂

    Have fun buddy,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      Oscar loves ice cubes on a hot day. I enjoy them, too! I’m hoping to get Oscar running someday like you do, Snoopy. 🙂

  5. According to Gus May 27, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Oscar resting his little chin on his two front paws is SO cute!

    I think it’s great that you took action and created such a robust plan to help him shed some “love”. 🙂 A couple of years ago the vet told us that, “Gus could stand to lose a pound”. We were shocked because he exercises so much, but we quickly realized we were treating WAY too often.

    Kudos to you and Oscar for your progress! Happy Friday!

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

      I’m shocked, too, considering all the exercise Gus gets during his adventures with you and Mitch, but I suppose every little calorie adds up! Not to much Gus and Oscar have tiny bellies and an itty bitty treat may seem like a decadent slice of cake to them!

  6. lexy3587 May 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    It sounds like you’re going about getting him more fit again very well – soon he’ll be his ideal shape once again 🙂
    There is a chart at my vet’s office with diagrams of underweight through to overweight or obese dogs and cats, and I definitely obsessed over it for a bit. Partly because those signs like ‘look down at your dog and see if you can see his waistline’ didn’t work when looking down at my fluff-ball dog. He didn’t have a visible waistline or a visible neck… he looked like a pod from above until we got him trimmed recently and could actually see where he sat on the ‘doggy bodyweight scale’.

    good luck resisting that begging face!

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      I know which diagram you’re talking about! I use the “look down at your dog and see if you can see his waistline” method to gauge Oscar’s progress since he won’t step on the scale. His waistline is making a comeback, baby!

  7. Sophie May 28, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    It must be hard resisting that cutie-pie face, but I hope his new exercise and diet regime helps him slim down! 🙂

  8. Carrie Boyko May 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Good tips for super-sized pups. Make sure to watch out for nutrition too:

    Hope you have time to enter the Organix dog food giveaway: http://www.allthingsdogblog.com/2011/05/organix-dog-food-giveaway-12-bags-of.html

  9. Happy.Bark.Days May 29, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Oscar is such a cutie pie—look at those big brown eyes! Well, I admit, I think a little pudginess looks kind of cute. But, you’re quite right in that excess weight gain can lead to future health issues. It’s great that you’re starting a mini bootcamp for Oscar. He’ll be in tip-top form and catching the winks of ladies (if he isn’t already) in no time at all!

    • Oscar & Pauline May 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      Me too! I squeal over chubby dogs (and chubby babies), but didn’t want Oscar’s “pudginess” to turn into obesity—I just had to take action!

      Instead of telling Oscar he’s slimming down, I’m telling him he’s getting sexier for added motivation. 😉

      • Happy.Bark.Days May 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

        Haha, oh boy, the next thing you know the “new” Oscar will want to sign on with the Chippendales!

      • Oscar & Pauline May 30, 2011 at 11:03 am #

        I should find him a bow tie collar so he can start practicing. LOL!

  10. Kas May 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    GREAT tips!!! Evee loves the “more to love Oscar” as well as the “svelte and ready-to-run Oscar”. Either way, he’s handsome 🙂

  11. furfilled June 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Oscar is such a cutie pie, I can see how you can’t resist giving him some extra special goodies. But I’m quite impressed with your efforts – especially the treadmill workouts : )

    I wonder if giving him something like a piece of broccoli or a carrot to gnaw on might be a way to give him a lo-cal indulgence? The veggies are mostly fiber and water, and most dogs find them fun to chew…

    • Oscar & Pauline June 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      I’ve been giving him watermelon instead of treats when he wants to indulge (which is most of the time). Since they’re 90% water, I have no guilt giving Oscar an extra bite or two. 😀

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Two-Month Weigh In « Oscah Baby - June 20, 2011

    […] turned to the camera to chronicle the subtle transformation his body is going through thanks to the lifestyle changes we made two months ago. We’re hoping you can see the difference in Oscar’s physique […]

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