I don’t have a magic formula for keeping Silas fit and thin. In fact, we do a lot of the wrong things. While we play a lot, he doesn’t get a lot of formal, organized exercise. I feed him tiny bites off my plate, and my husband feeds him BIG bites off of his plate. To keep his skin healthy, I have to add a lot of fat to his diet.
The most important thing, though we absolutely do: watching his weight. Feeding raw doesn’t come with a set of guidelines like a bag of kibble does. It’s also harder to feed exactly the same amount of food or even number of calories in a single day. At a little over 30 pounds, Silas usually eats around six ounces of food per meal, twice a day, but sometimes a food item just is the size it is. (It’s an awe-inspiring moment when you realize that your medium-sized dog is happily chowing down something that your top-notch cutlery and all your strength couldn’t cut through.) Most calorie calculators are based on human foods. They don’t include the bones, and often don’t include the food items that Silas eats. I looked fairly hard, for instance, for the numbers for turkey tail, and never could find them.
All of that means that, when feeding raw, you don’t have a choice about paying attention to your dog’s weight over time, because it’s the only way you can really make sure you have the amounts right.
He leans toward the naturally slim all over, in fact, and I’ve had to be careful not to let him get too thin with is food issues. He also naturally regulates how much he eats and is not going to eat something just because it is in his dish. (In fact, over Christmas I almost went crazy trying to feed him, before I added up the amount of ham people were slipping him. Suddenly his five bites of dinner made perfect sense.)
My contribution to the waistline project comes from what I suspect is the less common side: what it looks like for an otherwise healthy dog to be slightly under weight.
May was hitting bottom in terms of the food allergies. I was really struggling to get him to eat. While he was never dramatically underweight, he was thinner than I like.
Remember to keep your dog’s general shape in mind when you look at these images about dog obesity. A sighthound or sighthound mix who is shaped like a “thin and fit” Labrador is probably overweight. On the other hand, I want to be able to see Silas’s ribs while he’s running, which would be far too thin for a dog with more hair or a different shape.