Front Lines in the Battle of the Bulge

I write about diets for older dogs now and again because I've been through getting an older dog in shape before to help improve his quality of life. A five pound gain on a 50 pound dog was more than enough for me to get my act in gear and implement some new habits to get my last senior (the Mighty Boo Boo) in shape.

Now I've gone and done it again. I've been lazy. I've been quick with the treats when presented with some new cute behavior. We've been diligent with our regular exercise routine, but sometimes when we're feeling social, we might not be as actively engaged in exercise our legs as much as our jaws (and sniffers.)

Rusty, a senior akita/shepherd needs a diet.
"I'm not fat. I'm just big-boned."
At 83 lbs., Rusty has put on two pounds in the last 6 months. I found this out when I took him in for a regular check up and to look into a slight limp that he's developed.

It was too early to tell if the limp was anything serious (and since the vet visit, it's already starting to dissipate), but it got me thinking that we better start walking the talk. Our goal is to get him to 75 lbs. We recognize that this will take months, but little by little, we need to start chipping away immediately.

  1. Reduction in non-food treats - One bully stick per week. He'll also get a sweet potato treat (I have a couple different go-to brands that I'll highlight in another post), and one Greenie's Joint Care stick. No table scraps. (Was that a moan a just heard in the background?)
  2. Food-treat replacement - A handful of food will be left back to be used as treats to reward those funny behaviors that I know and love (and want to encourage.)
  3. Replace (some) food with healthy filler - A handful of food will be replaced with an equal amount of chopped carrots and blueberries. 
  4. Exercise regimen - Reestablish good exercise habits and walk the entire route we're planning unless my canine comrade gets tired or his limp (more of a bob) returns. Actively seek out hills and slight grades in the path to make sure his muscles are getting a good workout without putting undue strain on his joints.  
There are plenty of times that we may add in an extra short walk before turning in or on weekend.

For his current joint issues I changed over to Dasuquin without MSM due to my regular supplier not carrying the MSM version anymore. Luckily I've since been able to find a source that does supply this joint supplement (glucosamine, chondroitin, AND MSM) and have a fresh supply on the way. He's also on Rimadyl under my veterinarian's guidance to help take the edge off. 

It's not going to be easy, but we know what the stakes are and are willing to go the distance.

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