How to help your dog lose weight
Q: Our Great Dane weighed 75kg when we adopted her a year ago. She has three 20-60-minute walks a day but can't manage more since a leg operation. She won't eat diet food so I give half the amount recommended on the packet, some tripe, two treats a day and some fruit. How can she lose weight?
A: The two ways to reduce weight are diet and exercise, but the second is limited here because of your pet's leg operation. However, I think you are pandering to her palate, mixing tripe here and other food there, which will only add to the calories she cannot burn off. You're going to have to be cruel to be kind - if she won't eat her food, tough! Dogs can go without food for a few days easily, so don't let those puppy dog eyes convince you otherwise. Prescription diet foods must be used here, along with low-fat formulas, to reduce your dog's weight gradually. This will take many months, so you will need to be patient and visit your vet regularly for weigh-ins and advice. One novel exercise plan would be to find a local hydrotherapy pool - a swimming pool for dogs. Your Dane can burn off calories in the pool by doing non-weight-bearing exercises that are ideal for her damaged joints.
Scott Miller, vet