Silas’s Weight

Jen at My Brown Newfies drew my attention to the Show Off Your Dog’s Waistline campaign being hosted by Dawg Business.

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.

Silas has a fairly extreme tuck-up, even when he’s at a good weight:

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.

If you look past his sweet sleepy face in this picture from around the time he was neutered in May, you can clearly see his ribs:
Silas, May

And in this one from the same time you can tell that his waist is a little too sharply defined.
Too thin, may

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.


5 thoughts on “Silas’s Weight

  1. Your point at the end about the coat type is really important. I can feel Honey’s ribs when I pet her. But with her thick coat, she’d have to be starving before I saw them.

    But the most of the healthy foster dogs I’ve had with short coats show their ribs at rest. It appears to be normal.

    On an unrelated topic, I hope you’ll write about the plumber visit. And if you move to Ithaca, NY, I’ll be happy to come by, toss some treats, and leave. 🙂

    Just saw this good news article. Thought you might find it encouraging:


  2. Good topic! Something for me to keep in mind too when I see dogs I perceive to be underweight cause maybe they are not being fed regularly – they may just be picky eaters and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge!

    I think Silas looks pretty good – I had to laugh at the mystery of why he wasn’t eating much until you discovered the under-cover ham operation!


    1. My mom knows to ask *what* he can eat when we visit, but she is not so sure about what makes a “little bite” for a dog. No wonder Silas adores her, huh?

      Silas’s food issues have definitely contributed to him being on the slim side, but he also just has a well-tuned sense of “enough.” Yesterday he got every treat in the house while the plumber was here, and then, sure enough, wouldn’t eat his dinner because of it. Fortunately I worry less about it these days.


  3. I’ve been considering jumping on this challenge. Delilah had a nicely defined waist but I still cannot see her ribs. The vet however feels she is at a healthy weight so I won’t obsess over it. Sampson also has a clearly defined waist but he is also HUGE chested, so his waist is tiny in comparison and yet I still cannot see his ribs.

    We feed raw as well and everything is measured out. I have a scale specifically for this purpose and a great pair of kitchen shears that cut through the chicken necks. I gave up on the turkey necks because some of them were so big they looked like ostrich necks!

    I think he looks wonderful 🙂


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