Dear Dr. Barchas,
I have a six-year-old female Australian Cattle Dog.
She is severely overweight. We are giving her a special Iam’s diet
Food. I thought it was working, but now I’m not so sure.
This is the third diet food we have tried.
I have a 16 acre farm that she and another Blue
Heeler live on. They have full run of all
the land. Do you know what could be causing her
to be this large? I excersise her quite a bit
Lauren and the majorly obese Lucy
Getting weight off a pet is never fun or easy. It requires dedication and persistence. Many people with overweight pets simply don’t make an effort to do something about the problem.
But you don’t sound like one of those people. You are feeding Lucy diet food, and it sounds like she is getting plenty of exercise. What is going on here?
You may be over-feeding her. If a dog eats too much of any food (even diet food), she will gain weight. Also, Lucy could be tapping into other sources of food. Children and elderly family members sometimes feed the dog on the sly. So do neighbors. Also, Lucy might be stealing your other dog’s food, so be sure to feed them separately.
Lucy also may not be getting as much exercise as it seems. She has access to a lot of land, and most Cattle Dogs love physical activity. But, are you certain that she’s not spending her days lounging rather than playing? If she is, you may need to engage in more physical activities with her.
Finally, I am suspicious that Lucy may have a medical issue that is contributing to her weight problem. Six-year-old dogs are at risk for a problem with the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) that can cause serious weight gain. If she has this problem, it will be almost impossible for her to lose weight. However, hypothyroidism is easy to treat.
I recommend that you have a vet take a look at Lucy and run some blood tests. Otherwise, you may never get her weight under control.