If you are trying to help a dog lose weight and can’t figure out how, I’m going to tell you how I did it with my dog Molly.
I was volunteering with Animal Advocates Alliance at an adoption event when I saw this this little yellow blob roll out the back of a truck and waddled toward me like a little waterballon with a string attached.
I asked if they knew her story but like with so many of these dogs all they could tell me was that she was found wandering the streets of South Los Angeles. I can’t imagine this tiny thing wandering the mean streets of Los Angeles on her own. She must have been dumped because there’s no way she could escape from anything. She could barely walk. Her belly was covered in cuts and scrapes from dragging on the ground as she waddled around. The shelter hand named her Jenny Craig for obvious reasons.
I figured she was so cute that someone HAD to adopt her but as my shift ended I felt moved to tell one of the coordinators, “If nobody adopts that dog by the end of the day, I’ll take her.” I couldn’t let her waddle back to the shelter and out of my life forever without knowing she was safe.
I got a call at 5pm telling me to come back to the event and pic up my dog. I couldn’t beleve nobody adopted her. I changed her name to Molly and brought her home. It was immediately obvious that she was sick, I hadn’t noticed earlier but her eyes and nose were now dripping. I didn’t need a vet to tell me that she had picked up kennel cough at the shelter. If I hadn’t adopted her, she could have easily been destroyed when she got back to the shelter to keep her from infecting the general population.
I had other dogs at the time so Molly was quarantiend in the bathtub of my guest bathroom, I filled the tub with blankets, food and water and checked on her often. She barely moved, she laid on her side like a tiny walrus and dripped from her nose and eyes for a week and then she started to clear up. That’s when we went into phase two which was to address the weight issue.
The vet who had treated her kennel cough told me that Molly weighed 18 lbs but that 8-9 lbs was more ideal for dog of her size. I asked my vet how to do it and Dr. Schwartz, being a very practical man said, “Feed her less food.”
I thought about it and came to the conclusion that if I started feeding ther the proper amount of food for a 9 lb dog, she would eventually end up being 9 lbs. I wasn’t sure it would work but that was my plan. I also walked her 3 times a day. A longer 30 minute morning walk and two other two walks of about 10 – 15 minutes just to get her moving around.
I took her to New York in the fall with me and we walked around Central Park’s Great Lawn. Molly would walk about 30 minutes and then just lay down. She’d just give up and refuse to take one more step. Literally. Here’s video of Molly letting me know that she simply cannot walk one step further. A stranger passing by asks, “Is she alright?” Yep, just a lazy little butterball.
I felt frustrated along the way, it was hard to tell if my plan was working. The weightloss was gradual. I wondered if I was doing it wrong, or if I should change something, but I just kept doing what made sense. I kept feeding her the right amount of dog food for a dog the size I wanted her to be and continued with moderate exercise. We strolled, we didn’t run or jog, we just walked. We stopped to sniff things and I tried to make the walks as fun as possible for her.
I noticed she was actually getting smaller…It took about a year but she got down to 9.5 lbs and then just leveled off. I couldn’t believe it.
Molly is one of those dogs that will eat any and all food she finds immediately. She will eat herself sick. She is like a tiny shark, her eyes roll back in her head and she becomes an eating machine. You have to just get out of the way so you don’t get bit in the process. You can’t leave food out or she’ll eat it…ALL. Since my other dogs are grazers I got elevated dog dishes to get their food off the floor and out of her reach.
I went away for two weeks and left Molly with a friend and came home and she was noticably fatter. My friend admitted to giving her snacks and treats. I couldn’t hold it against her. Molly is pretty darn cute and very persistent in her begging. Once I got home I simply continued feeding her the proper measurements for a 9 lb dog and the weight melted off again.
Over the years her weight has fluctuated a little bit. Where there’s a will there’s a way and if Molly can get into food, she’ll eat it and eat it all. Luckily she’s too short to get into too much trouble.
Molly eats once a day. All the dogs eat the same dog food. Molly doesn’t eat any special diet foods. There are rarely treats in our house but a few times a year I do pick up a bag of treats and when they’re gone, they’re gone. She hovers around me when I cook and sits next to my chair at the table when I eat, hoping the doggie gods will see fit to send a morsel of food her way. Ocassionally it happens, but it’s not a regular occurance in our house.
Sometimes when we have a dog staying with us that isn’t ours, a foster dog, or maybe we are dog sitting for a friend, I put Molly in a crate for a few hours till all the other dogs have finished their food, and then she comes out once the dishes are empty to socialize with the general population. Dogs sleep most of the day anyway and her crate is uber comfortable, I crate train all of my dogs. If you’re trying to help a dog in your house lose weight you may have to simply put the dog that needs to lose weight into a large comfortable crate for a few hours in the morning until the other food dishes are empty. Some dogs who are not use to crates may protest but they will get use to it. I don’t let Molly make any decisions about her food or anything else. I don’t give in to begging and puppy dog eyes. I don’t give in when she does her little “Molly dance” to try to win me over. I just tell her I love her, give her hugs and belly rubs and get on with my day.
We continue to work with Molly on her weight. She is always finding ways to get more food or steal someone elses food, but as long as we go back to feeding her the proper measurements for the a dog the weight she SHOULD be, she drops the weight again and returns to her recommended size.
BUT no matter how much weight Molly loses, she will always be our Santa every Christmas.