Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sit! Stay! Diet!

When I decided to share my struggle--and my dog's struggle--of losing weight, I knew that many pet owners would relate. The American Medical Association reports that 65% of U.S. adults are overweight, and the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that more than 40% of our dogs are overweight. So, if you like me and think that exercise is a four letter word and ice cream is a perfectly acceptable breakfast, then it stands to reason that our pets will be putting on a few extra pounds along with us.

At the time I wrote my book about dieting with my dog (Update: the manuscript is complete and with my agent. Hopefully she'll find the right publisher soon!) I'd lost 40 lbs and my spaniel Kelly (that's her, tugging on the leash. Think she wants a walk?) lost 6 lbs. We both kept it off for more than a year. Now, however, we're trying to deal with a few pounds rebound weight. We're working harder than ever to get the weight off and keep it off.

Here are some
tips for getting back on track:

1. Keep track of what you're eating. A food journal helps maintain accountability.

2. Change your exercise routine. If you're bored with the treadmill, try pilates or a Zumba class. I just added Wii Fit to my routine.

3. Make just one change. Maybe you could drink more water or add 15 minutes to your exercise

1. Make sure you're not back in the habit of offering table scraps.

2. Change the route that you take when walking together. New smells are exciting!

3. Make just one change. You could try a new snack (Kelly likes raw baby carrots) or add some special play time to the routine.

And don't forget, reward yourself, and your dog, for good progress!

What about you? Do you have any (human and canine) diet tips? What are some healthy snacks you (and your dog) like to eat? And cat owners, I know some cats tend to get lethargic and pack on a few extra pounds. Do you have any tricks that help?


  1. We stick to one kind of doggie food for our aging Yorkie. And we give him occassional chicken and hamburger as a treat. But other than that, that's all he eats.

    Stephen Tremp

  2. H Peggy - Thanks for posting these helpful tips. I have been struggling with my weight for several years. Exercise is my problem - I don't like it!

    Your pal, Pip

  3. Great practical post, Peggy. I like the "make one change" -- sometimes that what I need to focus on to make lifestyle changes manageable!

  4. Thanks Stephen. That's good that you are careful with what you feed your senior Yorkie. Chicken (without the skin) is a great treat. Give him a hug from me!

  5. Mr. Pip I know, we all struggle with exercise. I don't like it either! Maybe you would like one of those balls that dispenses treats as you play with it. Good motivation! As long as you don't eat more calories than you burn!
    Your pal,

  6. Thanks Lexi. So what is the one change you are going to make? Mine is to drink more water.

  7. This is very good advice for pups and two-leggers!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  8. When we eat fast food I order grilled chicken, no sauce, no fries and unsweetened iced tea. We have been pet-less for awhile, yeah I know it isn't a word but it should be. I am hoping to adopt an older sheltie soon. That will increase my exercise.

  9. Neat suggestions! For the last week I have REALLY increased my water intake and see the pounds coming off. I drink a whole glass of water before I take my first bite of food. Then keep drinking it throughout the meal. Sure fills you up. Then, when hungry for a snack I drink first. If I'm still hungry I eat a bite or two. Seems to be working.

  10. I'm going to work hard on the water thing, I hope it works as well for me!

  11. My tip would be to change your pantry. When I'm on the road, I eat much less since I don't have the pantry or refrigerator to browse.

  12. Oh no, I don't have any tips - I came here looking for them! :)

  13. I can think of lots of human tips!
    My parents had one of their chubby dogs liposuctioned. (He was having surgery anyway and the vet offered.) Is that wild or what?

  14. I wonder if I could convince my husband that I need a dog to take me for walks as part of my weight loss plan?

  15. A food journal is an excellent tip! Great if you want to lose weight, and also if you want to clean up your act. Great suggestions!

  16. Nice post. Make one change is such a good suggestion. One is far easier to follow than many. Good luck with the weight program for both you and your dog!


  17. Hi Peggy. Way to put yourself out there! Here is a tip for your dog. When we wanted Ty (Shar Pei) to lose weight, we substituted some canned pumpkin for some food. Same quantity, but less calories. Ty went from a hippy 40 lb dog to a svelte 35 in about 5 weeks.

  18. At the hospital where I work we are starting a new program using the therapy dogs as motivators to exercise and eat healthy snacks, in a child obesity program. You are part of a growing trend to partner with your dog in exercise! I love the idea of making one change. I try to eat fresh local foods and stay away from salty foods and diet drinks. Lots of walking my dog helps immensely. Good luck with your program and new book!
    Laurel at
    Bark Wag Love

  19. Rod, canned pumpkin is a great idea, I"m going to try it. I'll let you know if Kelly likes it.

    Life with Dogs I hope you found a couple tips on the blog that you can use.

    Thanks Maggie Mae, Nancy, Sylvia, Shauna, Monti, Laurel and Helen. Alex, that's the first I've heard about puppy lipo! lol.

    Patricia, I hope your husband agrees on getting that dog!

  20. Laurel, that program sounds amazing. I think Kelly would like to volunteer! Maybe she could go and talk to schools. Good idea! Thanks.

  21. Hi Peggy, great information and great facts about overweight pets and their owners. Thanks for sharing your story and look forward to reading the book!

  22. Grrr, weight gain is such a pain! I don't have any helpful tips other than to find exercise you really, REALLY enjoy and go with it. Also, eat chocolate everyday. I am not a supporter of the "bad foods" mentality--there are no bad foods, only bad vibes which stick to your food when you eat it!

  23. I'm finally able to get your blog on my Yahoo page! Have a new computer and now it works. Yeah!!

    I hope you find a publisher soon- your message will be a wonderful one!

  24. thanks for posting. i hardly find articles to read about pets. big thanks to you especially from your tips.


Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!