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Pets: Widget & The Battle of the Bulge

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DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 11, 2012
12:58 PM

Post #9201809

Some of you may already know Widget, my 'little' Maltese pictured below. At his annual vet check on Monday, we learned that Widget isn't quite as little as he once was. He has gained 2lbs since his visit last year. Two lbs may not sound like a lot, except that Widget only weighed 4.5lbs to start with. Thus 2lbs is almost 1/2 his body weight. That's like a human putting on 50 to 100 lbs.

The vet said no more than 2 treats a day. (I've been guilty of giving him too many treats. Bribes and 'thank you' gifts for doing what he's supposed to do. Widget is a rule breaker. Treats help to encourage better cooperation. Then there were the extra treats he guilted me out of with that 'you love the cats more than me' face. And so on and so on.

So, now poor Widget is on a diet. No more tastes of the cat's (dry) food and only 2 treats a day max. He's not that fond of his dog food, currently Taste of the Wild grain free, so as he's probably not going to eat too much of that, he's allowed to eat what he wants of his dog food.

It's going to be tough - for him AND for me - but I'm determined to follow his Drs recommendations and help him get back his boyish, 4.5lb figure.

Edited to add that I started this thread (1) to journal our progress and (2) to share our situation with you and hear any thoughts and ideas you would like to share. Edited a 2nd time to fix some typos.

This message was edited Jul 11, 2012 4:20 PM

This message was edited Jul 11, 2012 4:22 PM

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DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 11, 2012
1:14 PM

Post #9201824

Today I got out the kitchen sheers & cut Widget's 2 treats (for the day) into numerous, very small pieces which I then placed into a small, zip lock bag. This made it easier to stick to the 2 treat rule and still have something however small to give him during some of those times when he has come to expect a treat. I don't want him to feel too deprived or to think I suddenly don't love him anymore. Dieting is hard enough when you understand the reason. In his case, he has no idea why I've suddenly stopped giving him the things to which he had become accustomed.

By cutting his 2 treats into smaller pieces, I can at least give him a number of tiny treats right now to try to buffer the pain of getting started on his new diet. It actually did help today to make things easier for both of us. As time goes on I'll work on slowly decreasing the number of times per day he gets a treat, working towards a goal of giving him 1 to 2 whole or half treats daily (same amount just not cut into so many tiny pieces).

He ate maybe 1/4 cup of his dry dog food today - his choice as to qty. Right now he's lying around looking pitiful and giving me his 'no body loves me anymore' face.

Edited for typo - again.

This message was edited Jul 11, 2012 4:24 PM

stillwood

stillwood
Franklinton, NC

July 11, 2012
1:23 PM

Post #9201834

Dream - cutting up the treats is a great idea! For animals (dogs especially) love is expressed by food - that is why training goes so much better with food rewards (even tiny liver ones) than just with verbal approval. An animal does not really understand human's psychological need for approval - but they understand a piece of liver quite well. Our human preoccupation with weight control (a relatively new phenomenon in the world's history - starvation has been the norm for most of history) just does not compute for a dog. If the weight is actually causing health issues (like heart, breathing, exercise, etc.), it obviously must be adjusted. But you are so right to do it gradually. Our dogs do not get a sense of satisfaction at depriving themselves of what they like (humans feel quite virtuous when dieting at first). They just think something has gone wrong with their world and can actually get depressed over it. Good luck with this new program . He is so tiny that even a slight increase in exercise would also help. You have so much experience with animals that it will probably be harder on you than on him. Also maybe he has actually found a way (not intentional on his part, of course) of getting your attention back on him and off those dratted cats!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 11, 2012
1:30 PM

Post #9201838

be strong! he'll adjust, but you're right, it's hard. It was so much fun to give our kitty treats... he doesn't like canned cat food or any other human food, but he'd do darn near anything for a squirt of cheese whiz. Now he gets small measured amounts of kibble morning & evening, and that's about it. And he's still a big cat, but his weight is right (or at least close) for his size.

Hang in there, Widget!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 11, 2012
1:33 PM

Post #9201844

ROTF, stillwood,

Love that last line - 'dratted cats' - Widget would get a kick out of that one. It's true, actually. I have been a bit more focused on him since the start of this diet thing.

Because he is so tiny, the effect of just about everything is magnified. Right now he isn't experiencing any health problems - yet, but his Dr is very concerned that those extra pounds could in time result in a host of problems from diabetes to heart disease, collapsed trachea, joint damage, etc, etc. Any way you look at it I need to adjust MY behavior; otherwise, he might even gain additional weight. He's 7 or 8 now. (I forget exactly.) Approaching middle age either way. No longer able to eat like a puppy.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 11, 2012
1:41 PM

Post #9201853

Thank you, critter,

It is difficult, but I'm determined to do what's best for him. Cutting the treats up to make more pieces has actually made it easier, at least for me. At least I have a tiny something to give him when he looks especially deprived.

Glad to hear that you were successful in getting your cat back down to fighting weight. I have one cat that begs (& begs & begs) for treats and will eat 1/2 the bag if I let him. Last night I was thinking this is a good time to cut down on his treats, too. I have this tendency to want to spoil them all.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 11, 2012
2:05 PM

Post #9201887

It was lots more fun to spoil Eliot, too... But we also want to give him the best chance of being here with Joyanna through high school... so when the vet said put away the treats, we did. We now give him his favorite kibble (which isn't the dental diet stuff he's stuck with at meals) as a treat, but just one or two pieces at a time. He could lose a pound or so still... he's a little over 18 pounds, but at 16 1/2 he'd be downright "trim," so he's doing fine, but it would sure be more fun for all of us if we could reward him with cheeze whiz!

We made changes gradually for Eliot, too... no reason for him to think his world is suddenly in turmoil... Fortunately, he's devoted enough to his humans that extra scritches & belly rubs helped make up for the sudden dearth of cheeze whiz.

Those big eyes and pitiful mews or whines are hard to resist, though, aren't they?

slvrwilo

slvrwilo
Loudonville , OH
(Zone 5b)

July 11, 2012
8:29 PM

Post #9202230

I don't remember if you ever mentioned if Widget likes carrots or not. I found that several of my dogs liked vegetables especially carrots. Good low calories treats!

DebbiesDaisy

DebbiesDaisy
Lyndonville, NY

July 11, 2012
8:37 PM

Post #9202239


I can so understand poor Widgets dilemma...I have the same problem!

I had tried Izzy on the Taste of Wild Grain free...she (who eats everything including socks) refused it. BUT I switched her to Blue Wilderness grainfree.
Same goodness...and she likes it!!!

I also put the cats on the feline version, so far so good!

Good luck with the "two treats" a day. Does Widget like carrot sticks? That is what I switched Izzy too...and since the rabbit gets one, she thinks is is great.

Debbie

wren107

wren107
Jacksonville, FL
(Zone 8b)

July 12, 2012
3:41 AM

Post #9202376

I have been working on getting weight of my food stealing, begging pig of a dog. He has lost over 20 pounds, still could loose a few more.
First I laid the law down to my DM who I found out was feeding him the leftovers out of the ice box. I also get tiny treats.
With the vets help I put him on the doggie Diet drug that suppresses their appetite. In his case it only suppressed his appetite for dog food any thing else he would still eat.
I cut the amount of food he get in half and tried to increase the amount of thing to keep him busy.

I also found he loves the Freeze Dried Beans that I get from Oh! Nuts a one pound bag is a lot of treats and I can give all I want to him.
http://www.ohnuts.com/searchResults.cfm?criteria=green+bean+chips
momcat
northeast, IL
(Zone 5a)

July 12, 2012
4:54 AM

Post #9202406

I have a friend who mixes green beans in with his dogs food to help bulk it up without the extra calories. That way they still eat the same quantity, so they aren't feeling deprived. He was able to get them back in "show weight" fairly easily, and the dogs love the beans!

wren107

wren107
Jacksonville, FL
(Zone 8b)

July 12, 2012
5:25 AM

Post #9202423

Andre does not like the canned ones but he loves the dried one

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
6:42 AM

Post #9202502

We got through our 1st 'diet' day much, much better than expected - pretty good actually. There was one humorous part last AM when Widget came in from his morning walk and received only a tiny 1/2in or less sliver cut from his usual treat. After waiting a few minutes for his REAL treat (which never came) and after lying around for a minute or two giving me the sad face, he promptly gave up on me, stuck his head under the corner of his dog bed and emerged with a treat, a variety he didn't like as much as his usual treats and which he had apparently 'buried' there for just such a moment. I had to laugh, and for his thrift and preparation, I let him have that one 'on the house' (didn't subtract it from his daily 2 treats) this time.

Later when he wasn't in the room, I checked under his bed to make sure he didn't have a whole stash under there. I only found one of his favorite 'bones' and a rawhide stick. Can't be sure the little guy doesn't have treats stashed elsewhere though. I had forgotten about this tendency. His predecessor used to 'bury' things all around the house, including under sofa cushions. Widget is too small to access sofa cushions, but there must be a million other hiding places around here for an enterprising canine.

I gave him 1/2 cup of his dry dog food plus those 2 treats (treats marketed/sized for 'toy' dogs) and nothing else. He didn't quite finish the dog food, so I think we are doing well.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
6:55 AM

Post #9202521

Green beans are great--my late Sheltie was on seizure drugs that made him really hungry, but he couldn't afford to gain weight so I would add a bunch of green beans to his food dish and that seemed to really help, at least he didn't go around looking at me like he was about to starve to death anymore.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 12, 2012
6:56 AM

Post #9202527

You're off to a great start! Keep resisting those big brown eyes... Even with kids it's hard to stick with "I'm being mean for your own good" stuff, and it's harder with pets since you can't explain!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
7:05 AM

Post #9202541

If you have never owned a toy sized dog (under 10lbs), you probably can't begin to imagine some of the ramifications of his small size - and remember, Widget's normal weight is 4.5-5lbs, so he weighs only 1/2 the max size of a 'toy' dog. He is so small that one of my cats used to chase him around the yard. Seriously. I once caught myself in the front yard telling the cat to leave the dog alone, something you probably don't hear often.

It's hard to think in terms of Widget's size, and the photo doesn't include anything for size comparison. For starters, Widget is smaller than a small, adult female cat. If you have a Cocker Spaniel, for instance, you may think of that as a small dog, but just to put things into perspective, on average it would take 7 Widgets to equal a single Cocker Spaniel. In the cover photo, what you are looking at is a LOT of hair and something comparable to a good size rat. Sometimes I call him 'rat dog' when I'm teasing him. ;-)
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 12, 2012
7:20 AM

Post #9202562

Friends have had dogs that small, so I understand some of the concerns... I've never even had a cat whose weight was (or "should be) anywhere near 10 pounds, LOL.

Nice that the "problem" for Widget is the treats and not his regular food... it was really hard to switch from giving Eliot free access to food to giving him 2 little scoops each day. Blake always self-regulated his intake, so he'd just get a cup of food in his dish in the morning... when he could see the bottom of the bowl, he'd make those last kibbles "last," just like a kid getting down to the last few jelly beans in an easter basket!

DebbiesDaisy

DebbiesDaisy
Lyndonville, NY

July 12, 2012
7:21 AM

Post #9202564


He is probably the size of our Jersey Wooly rabbit, who is still a baby, but maybe 2 lbs of fur and fluff.

Widget is totally adorable, regardless of size!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 12, 2012
7:22 AM

Post #9202566

SHould have said "good" or "helpful" rather than "Nice" above... nothing about weight issues is ever "nice!" :-)

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
7:32 AM

Post #9202579

Thanks, critter,

Having the cats around eating their yummy cat food doesn't help either. When you get right down to it, it was when the cats came into the picture that Widget began to gain weight, something which really escalated over this past year. (No, I don't plan to get rid of the cats, just explaining.) As soon as the cats arrived, Widget decided that their food smelled a LOT better than his. He started begging for their food, giving me the 'you love them more than me' face, and even plotting ways to get into their food - and he managed the latter a time or two despite my best efforts at keeping it out of his reach.

About a year ago, my efforts to resolve some of the cats' issues, made matters worse still. Cocoa, who was raised completely feral and w/o any human contact until he was a good sized kitten, had learned to come into the house and was comfortable everywhere except the master suite, which being cave-like continued to frightened Cocoa despite all my best efforts. Instead of coming into the MBR to sleep with us, Cocoa would lie on the floor just outside the MBR to sleep.

As a last resort in my effort to help Cocoa get over his fear of the MBR, about a year ago I started 'treat therapy'. I put a bag of Temptations cat treats on the night stand, brought Cocoa onto the bed, and gave him 1. He would eat it and leave the room, after I repeated this for a week or so, Cocoa learned to enjoy coming to the bed for a tasty treat. It worked so well that Cocoa now spends a lot of time in the MBR and even sleeps in there.

Unfortunately, watching me give treats to Cocoa only made Widget all the more sure I like the cats better than him. In an effort to be even handed, soon I was giving Widget a number of treats while I was working on 'training' Cocoa. In time I even started giving Widget some of Cocoa's treats. This is how things really got out of hand this last year.

I thought it would be very difficult to get through the evening, when Cocoa often joins us in the bed wanting a treat, and do so w/o caving in to Widget's desire for treats. Oddly enough, it wasn't anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be. Cutting Widget's treats into small pieces helped, and I did take this opportunity to cut back on Cocoa's treats, too, since he is now over his fear of the bedroom; but there was more to it than that. Something else changed. I found that as soon as I changed (mentally), as soon as I made up my mind that under no circumstances was I going to give Widget a bunch of treats, Widget changed too, instantly. He didn't even bother giving me the sad faces anymore. He just ate his dog food and took a nap. I'm starting to think this may be a lesson (for me) in how our beliefs and behavior truly do influence theirs.

BTW, that cheese wiz gave me a good laugh. It's a funny image. As part of my ongoing attempt to make friends with my other cat Kitty, I give her some alone time and a private treat every 3 or 4 days. Sometimes that treat is 1/2 slice cheese, that gooey, American, s/w cheese. I tear it into tiny pieces and hand feed her. It seems to be helping substantially to win her trust and overcome some of her jealousy toward Cocoa. I must say, though, I hadn't considered cheese wiz - and I'm not going to now either as I don't want to have to wean her off of it.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 12, 2012
7:40 AM

Post #9202597

Our vet uses cheeze whiz as a treat/reward/bribe... squirts a little line of it right on the shiny exam table. :-) It's probably not much different than the cheese you use, just easier to store and easier to give in small quantities. I think we were fine when he'd just get a half-inch squirt to lick off my finger once or twice a day, but then people discovered he'd take it straight from the can, and sometimes I think he stayed up on his hind legs with his mouth open until it was as full as he could manage. (I remember saying "Good grief, his eyes are popping, I think that's enough!!")

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
7:59 AM

Post #9202625

Hi slvrwilo,

Widget LOVES vegetables, everything except carrots. He hates carrots. If he accidentally gets on in his mouth, he will spit it back out. Dogs are supposed to like carrots, so I realize he is the exception. He loves broccoli, raw or cooked, and will eat all he can get. He also loves cabbage, green beans, and even collard greens and is learning to enjoy cauliflower.

I asked the vet about giving him vegetables right now while he's trying to loose weight. She said, 'yes' to all of the super low cal veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, collards, cabbage, but she specifically said NOT to give him any carrots right now - and she repeated that 3 times, so it was clearly important to her. I have had vets recommend carrots for a snack in the past, for dogs that were not overweight.

Since I, too, have been on quite a few diets, I understand her reaction to carrots. When referring to foods as low cal or high cal, all things are relative. While carrots are very low cal when compared with many human snacks, they are actually higher in calories, carbs, and sugars than the other vegetables mentioned. Even many human [reducing] diets restrict green peas and carrots to 1/2 cup a day (or something like that), while allowing unlimited amounts of the other veggies. Also, diabetics must limit carrots (and peas) but not so much the other veggies. But the effect of a carrot or two on a human weighing 100lbs and up is much different than that on a 5lb dog.

Widget's very small size and correspondingly low energy needs no doubt play a part in this, too. Because carrots do have more calories, carbs, and sugars than the 'free' veggies, even a few baby carrots could make a difference with such a tiny guy like Widget. With a larger dog, a few pieces of carrot might not matter.

Widget also LOVES baked potato and sweet potato. We don't have them frequently, but when I have one, I often cook a small one for him, a practice I started so I could eat mine in peace. At the time it seemed a harmless thing, since he didn't have a weight issue then and since both vegetables have lots of nutrients. As you might expect, she said, "No" to the baked potato altogether. She did say he could have a very small piece of sweet potato on rare occasion as a replacement for one of his 2 treats - but not frequently. I'm not sure why she allowed a small bit of sw pot sometimes but no carrots at all, unless she allowed the sw pot because of its high nutrient content.

I'm embarrassed to admit that for years now I've been giving him an entire small to medium potato or sweet potato - and believe it or not he can actually pack away the whole thing and beg for more. He is going to be unhappy the next time I serve either of these 2 spuds. When he smells them in the microwave, he expects to get one, too. It will be an adjustment for sure.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
8:01 AM

Post #9202626

ROTFLMHO at the image of the cat on his hind legs getting his mouth filled with cheese wiz! OMG, that would make an adorable line drawing or cartoon image.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
8:14 AM

Post #9202639

critter,

You just gave me an idea.

Widget is afraid to ride in the car (result of being flown here, alone, in the cargo hole of a plane at 2mo) and he doesn't like the vet's office either. By the time he gets there he's already in a panic state from fearing the car will take off and fly every second of the ride over. Then strangers start prodding him, so he never gets a chance to calm down - plus he has to fear the ride back.

He is completely unafraid of the normal things like Tstorms and fireworks, just cars. Monday, after all the discussions around fireworks and fearful dogs, I asked the vet for something to calm Widget for his occasional car rides. I did this mainly because all the talk of fireworks reminded me that here on the Atlantic coast we sometimes have to make a mad dash out of town in front of an approaching hurricane, and I would hate to have to do it with an hysterical, yelping dog in tow. The vet gave him valium to take only for car rides, not daily.

I'm going to buy a can of cheese wiz before his next apt and take it with me to the vet's office just to see if that trick of squirting a tiny bit on the counter while we are waiting might help to distract him so he can relax. He will hopefully already be substantially calmer due to the valium. Maybe a little cheese wiz will help him to enjoy the process more. A dollop once or twice a year shouldn't hurt. He won't eat the treats they offer him. This time I took his treats with me, and he refused them, too, but I figure w/valium maybe...

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
8:21 AM

Post #9202645

momcat, wren, & ecrane,

Widget LOVES green beans. All kinds. frozen, canned, fresh. They're all good to him. I like the wide Italian style beans, the ones we used to call Kentucky Wonders. Sometimes I will open a can or steam some fresh or frozen ones in the microwave and share them with him. They make great treats.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
8:28 AM

Post #9202651

wren,

I used to love those (oh nuts) freeze dried vegetables & fruits. There was one type I really loved a lot, but I can't remember which one now. Apparently, everyone loved it, because the store would often be out of that one. It might even have been beans. Not sure. I tried them all, but I used to buy multiples of the one variety.

That's a good idea. I'll have to make a run to Earth Fare for some of those (for us both).

He also likes freeze dried liver for his daily treats. Although he's eating a different treat right now, that's what he eats most of the time. At least the liver has no carbs or additives unlike most treats and like the beans it keeps well in that form.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
8:38 AM

Post #9202666

Hi Debbie,

Widget says, "thank you!"

I didn't have any idea how tiny he really was until the 1st time I gave him a bath. I was shocked. When the hair is wet - and Maltese actually have hair not fur - he looses 2/3 of his size instantly.

Seriously, they don't have fur. They have no undercoat. The long hair grows out from the skin like human hair. Even the texture is not like animal fur. It's more like the hair of a small child with thin, fine, straight hair. The 1st time you hold one it's weird how incredibly soft they are, but not 'fur soft' like a rabbit, although that is also a wonderful experience to the touch. If you cut a Maltese dog's hair really short, it looks awful, because you can see the skin (which is pink) - no undercoat.

Thanks again.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
9:57 AM

Post #9202751

Debbie,

That's funny about Izzy who eats socks not liking Taste of the Wild. Is Izzy doing any better now with her unusual 'snacks'? Widget was on Blue for quite a while. I only changed him to this for something different. He doesn't like any of them. He probably would if I wouldn't have spoiled him SO badly over the years. Before the raccoons and cats, he was my only 'child', so you can probably imagine that I bought him every toy and treat I could find. It's one of my vices. I'm trying to quit.

Oh, and, alas, I'm no stranger to the diet thing myself - or the need for it.

I was actually planning to switch Widget back to Blue when he finishes this small bag of TOTW. Over the years he has eaten all of the top foods, and I don't think he likes any of them - although I thought he liked Evo Ancestral Diet at one time, but I understand that product was sold a year or so ago and has likely changed substantially and not for the better. One reason I switched from Blue was those round nutrient 'bits', forgot what they call them. Widget hates those, which alone wouldn't be so bad except that he takes them out of his dish one at a time and tosses them on the floor for me to step on - ouch - and vacuum up daily.

The reason I decided to go back to Blue was Cocoa. Cocoa actually eats the Blue dry dog food. He used to stop off at Widget's bowl and eat some on his way to the cat room to eat his cat food. I've never seen a cat eat dog food before, and Cocoa doesn't eat any of the other brands, just Blue. I figure that must say a lot for the quality of Blue, or at least for the quality of the proteins it contains. Your comments about how Izzy likes Blue have convinced me. I'll get some as soon as we finish this.

I'm not sure what this tells us exactly, since it's apples vs oranges, but a few weeks ago when I ran low on the cheap cat food I feed the raccoons, I made up the difference with some of Widget's TOTW, since he doesn't like it anyhow. I was surprised to find that even the raccoons were not impressed. They argued over the cheap cat food, and only ate the TOTW dog food when there was no more cat food. It's not a fair comparison, since it was cat food vs dog food, but it was also a high quality product vs the cheapest, grocery store cat food. They clearly preferred the cheap cat food.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
10:19 AM

Post #9202783

Today I had steamed, fresh broccoli for lunch and shared some with Widget. He would eat his volume (if not his weight) in broccoli if you let him.

This time of year when fresh broccoli is abundant and relatively inexpensive, I buy 1 to 2 bunches every time I get groceries. I steam it and share it with Widget. I also love it raw with hummus, and Widget is more than happy to have it raw, as well.

(As a 'bonus', here is my personal recipe for a favorite, healthy lunch, a veggie wrap comprised of 1/4", lengthwise slices of raw broccoli and/or cauliflower with lettuce, all wrapped in a spinach tortilla slathered with hummus. Yummy & crunchy. The hummus acts like a healthy and flavorful condiment, adding moisture to the works. I especially like the garlic hummus for this. Garden fresh tomato slices would be a nice addition, too.) Widget, however, takes his raw broccoli plain, sans wrap.

DebbiesDaisy

DebbiesDaisy
Lyndonville, NY

July 12, 2012
11:07 AM

Post #9202821


You are dead on! My cats eat Izzys food also. AND...one thing I really like about the Blue Wilderness, is that since Izzy has been on it...she no longer goes after the cats food.

I have seen a change in her eating habits since switching to "no grain" aka not as many "non food" snacks. Won't lie, it is expensive to have cats & dog on it but when you count the vet trips gone...it really saves in the long run.

Neither Izzy nor the cats would eat Taste of Wild, and they started "accking" up the food again.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 12, 2012
11:35 AM

Post #9202845

This is going back a few posts, but I'd be careful on feeding canned veggies to animals, there tends to be a lot of salt and maybe other things like preservatives, etc. I would always stick with fresh or frozen, that way all you're getting is the veggies.
katiebear
mulege
Mexico

July 13, 2012
9:37 AM

Post #9203851

The green beans are a good idea. I cook brown rice with chichen or fish for my dogs. I've cooked for them since reading a book called "Foof Pets Die For." For weight loss I recommend Red Star nutritional yeast (I buy it from www.bulkfoods.com). Both dogs and cats seem to really like it. Elliot would probably love it. I had a cat who would put her yeast dish in the middle of the kitchen floor if I failed to notice that it was empty. It is rumored to help repell fleas. For sure it's a great low fat food. I think www.food.com has recipes for dog treats. I know I've seem recipes for both dog and cat food and treats on the web. We have minimal vet service here and I think the home-cooked food really helps to keep my dogs healthy. One of them is overweight, though, she returned to me after the peoplw ho had adopted her split up and left town. They had kekpt her on a more restricked diet of dry food and she gets greedy over the fresh food which my dogs are accustomed to. Once when I turned my back on some live I was cutting up for their food she snatched a one-pound chunk of liver off the counter. She and it disappeared without a trace and she said, "Liver, hwat liver? What's for dinner? "

With five dogs, four of them big, I have to cook every day or two. For a little dog you could cook once a week or less and freeze portions.

My neighbor Dana loves dogs and has three small ones. After Amiga had surgery she refused to eat until I gave Dana a bowl of chicken and rice for her. It disappeared in a flash andd I provided food while she recovered. I am the only non-family person that Amiga likes. The first time I visited she crawled into my lap and fell alseep, amazing Dana.

Dana does lots of rescue work and works with the free animal clinic which is open here during the winter.

A long post to basially recommend checking out cooking for your pets.

katie
katiebear
mulege
Mexico

July 13, 2012
9:50 AM

Post #9203861

Just remember another friend, Barbara, who fed her large overweight dog six cups of chapped vegetables with his food every day until he got trim. We have a lot of dog lovers around here. kb
catmad
Pelzer, SC
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2012
6:07 AM

Post #9205684

Home prepared food is a great option, but you have to prepare yourself for a bit of research to learn what's needed. It's very important to keep the correct balances (like calcium/phosphorus ratio) and supplementation in mind when you cook for your pet. Easier to do with raw, but not hard once you understand where you're going.

I belong to a great email list which helps with all kinds of dog diets, raw, cooked and kibble-based.

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/K9Nutrition/

Even if you don't want to DIY, you can learn what's good and what's not for your pet.

HTH

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 16, 2012
11:19 AM

Post #9207357

Hi Debbie,

For quite a while i had Widget and the cats on Blue. I don't think Widget will ever love it quite as well as Izzy does. He did eat it back when we had it, but he always prefers cat food and 'real' meats and vegetables. Still, I was very much impressed by the fact that Cocoa (cat) snacked on Blue dog food the entire time we had it on hand.

To keep Widget out of the cat food, I put 2 straight chairs in the cat room and put their bowls on top of those chairs. The cats can easily hop up onto the chairs, but Widget cannot. That works most of the time to keep him out of their food, but he is crafty and determined, and has found a way to get the food whenever I forget and leave the dish too close to the edge. He will stand up on his hind legs and flip the cat's bowl over onto the floor, spilling kibble all over the place and making a huge mess.

I do plan to switch him back to blue very soon.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 16, 2012
11:26 AM

Post #9207367

ecrane,

You are right. Thanks for reminding me about the salt issue. Most canned foods are very high in sodium. Being so small, it only takes a tiny bit of salt to cause Widget to drink and drink and drink, a clear sign his body is struggling with all that sodium.

I had bought some 'no salt added' canned beans just for him. Thanks to your timely post, I looked through the cabinet to find the 'no salt' variety. They were SO nasty tasting, but he ate almost the entire can. That particular day he seemed particularly hungry, so I put the beans in a plastic container (drained) and handed them out as treats throughout the day.

Another food which is very high in sodium is cheese. That single slice of American cheese has over 1000mg sodium. I don't give Widget cheese for that reason - because it makes him try to drink a small ocean dry.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 16, 2012
11:31 AM

Post #9207380

Widget's diet is going well. Cutting his treats into a number of small slivers has been very helpful. Most mornings when we get up for breakfast, we still have a 1/3 to 1/2 of 2nd treat remaining from the day before.

He eats beans, cabbage, broccoli, etc when he gets super hungry between meals. Even when he gets hungry, he only eats just enough kibble to take the edge off of his hunger. Thus I find that I can give him unlimited dry dog food. He eats less than 1/2 cup of it a day, regardless.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 16, 2012
11:40 AM

Post #9207399

Glad the diet's going well! I'm glad he likes the veggies, it makes it so much easier when they're not looking at you with that "I'm about to starve to death" look in their eyes.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
6:26 AM

Post #9208432

Here is a quick pic of Widget from when he was a puppy. He only weighed 2lbs then. He had been playing a lot. I snapped this quick pic when he 'crashed' on the stairs. Again, this was back when he was a puppy, before his long coat had grown out.

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Click the image for an enlarged view.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
6:27 AM

Post #9208433

Here is a more recent pic, this one looking down at his back.

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Click the image for an enlarged view.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
6:29 AM

Post #9208435

Here is another pic of his seated (as an adult). I have some other pics, but most are in storage now.

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Click the image for an enlarged view.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
6:57 AM

Post #9208507

Katiebear & catmad,

Thanks for all of the info you provided on making my own dog food. I know the book you referred to, "Food Pets Die For". I'm told it's something of a classic now, and I have read it. There are quite a few editions of this book, as pet food practices and problems have changed dramatically over the years. The very earliest editions of the book call out some extremely horrible practices, many of which are no longer used. I mention this because, depending on whether you read an older edition or a relatively new one, some of the information may no longer be true today. That's not to say that there are not still problems in the industry, only that some of the worst practices from prior years have been abandoned.

Bottom line, while I am greatly impressed with those of you who find the time to make food for your dogs, I'm just not going to have the time for that any time soon. I often work long hours and bring more work home with me. It's just not feasible for me at this time.

My plan for now is to continue feeding Widget one of the top brands of dry dog food. He gets unlimited quantities of the dry food (since he shows no sign of abusing that). He also gets 2 treats a day, plus various low cal veggies as needed to keep him from being too hungry and depending on what we have on hand at the time. That is it. That is the plan. It's going well so far, and I'm pretty sure he will loose weight on this plan.

I feed Widget dry dog food, because it is better for his teeth. This is my 2nd Maltese, and vets have repeatedly pointed out that dry food is better for these litle guys. Maltese are extremely susceptible to tartar buildup and subsequent dental problems when fed either canned dog food or even the type food you recommend (because it is softer and more likely to stick to his teeth). This is a very real problem for Maltese, or so I'm told, in that most loose teeth before they reach old age, and some even loose all of their teeth. My 1st Maltese would only eat canned food. She lost several teeth during her lifetime, despite having had her teeth cleaned pretty much every time she went under anesthesia for any reason.

Again, I am impressed with you both, impressed that you are putting the time in to cook for your pets. I just don't feel it is right for us, at least not at this time. I do bake dog treats for Widget - although that's not what he is eating at the moment. I've got my process for making dog treats honed down to minimal effort now, 10min to toss the ingredients together and get them in the oven, 30min to bake, and only 1 large bowl to wash after I toss the aluminum foil and the plastic gloves.
catmad
Pelzer, SC
(Zone 7b)

July 17, 2012
7:31 AM

Post #9208595

DOS, I just want to clarify that I really wasn't suggesting home-cooking, but trying to explain that it isn't as simple as care-givers sometimes think. You have to be knowledgeable before you try it. It's possible to feed simply a single protein for a limited period of time without causing deficiencies, but beyond 8 weeks, you need to balance the nutrient profile.

I have no use for the kind of scare tactics used in books like "Foods Pets Die For", which has been thoroughly refuted by actual facts.

Has Widget lost any weight yet? I ask, because I was looking at my TOTW bag today, and out of curiosity, looked at the recommended feeding schedules. A 3-5 pound dog is listed as 1/3-1/2 cup. What I found when I tried to assist clients as a Vet Tech was that these amounts are usually higher than they should be. Plus, this is a Maintenance amount, not for weight loss. If you're feeding 1/2 cup (the upper end for a 5 lb dog, where Widget should be 4.5) plus treats plus veggies, you may still be feeding too much to enable him to lose those extra pounds. You might cut the dry back to help him get where he needs to be.

Just a thought after years of trying to manage doggie dieters. My very favorite was Stevie's (a pug) Mom, who vehemently insisted that she was feeding only 1 cup of r/d per day, the correct amount for his target weight. Stevie was gaining weight. Before proceeding to go into thyroid/metabolic testing, I finally asked her to bring in the cup. Wasn't really surprised to see the 16 oz Slurpy cup...

Not implying that you're doing that, just that it's not always a simple matter to reach a program that works. My dogs are both dieting, and those sad, starving (NOT!) eyes are just killing me. But, I want them staring at me as long as possible, so I'll be tough.

Good luck, stay strong for your Widget!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
7:44 AM

Post #9208617

Hi catmad,

Sorry for misinterpreting your post. That is too funny about the woman using the large slurpy cup for measuring. No, I'm using an actual 1/2 sized, measuring cup for dry ingredients. Although I give him 1/2 cup, he doesn't eat all of that. He eats more like 1/4 -1/3 cup. If he doesn't loose weight after a few months, I will reevaluate things, but I'm fairly sure he will loose weight this way.

He gained weight because I was letting him eat some of the cat's food and treats and was giving him way too many treats each day. Both the vet and I feel that he will slim down now that I have stopped my bad behavior. Until recently, when the cats came into the picture and I started letting him eat some of their food and also giving him more treats so he would not feel neglected, Widget always maintained his proper weight w/o the need to restrict his dry dog food. For a while there he was probably eating a bag of treats in 2 days. I know, I was awful.

Even now, he doesn't wolf his dry food down. He goes all day w/o eating anything other than the sliver of treat I give him. Then at night when he is very, very hungry, he will eat a few pieces of his dry dog food, just a scant handful, just enough to knock his hunger back a bit. He clearly doesn't like the dry dog food and never has, and that is why I don't think he will overeat that stuff.

I haven't weighed him yet. I'm going to check his weight and reeval in a few months. Just looking at him though, I actually do think he is loosing from his abdomen area.
katiebear
mulege
Mexico

July 17, 2012
7:49 AM

Post #9208623

Sound like Widget has a good diet that will work for him. Glad he like veggies. I had a cat that liked muskmelon and another that liked baked squash. I'm retired so it's easier for me to find time to cook for my furbabies. The tooth problem is also news to me.

The food.com site has recipes for treats. I may make some for my furbabies if I find the time and energy. My friend Tony and I are still doing basic work on the house. This is our hottest and most humid weather so we are mostly in survival mode. Keep ourselves, the animals and plants alive aand whatever else gets done is a bonus.

I also did not mean to try to guilt-trip you into cooking. I know my neighbor Dana who loves and rehablitates dogs said"no way" even when it was clear how much her Amiga loved the chicken and rice. Once Amiga was recovered from her surgery she was back on whatever Dana feeds her.

We all make our choices. We have little vet care available here for much of the year so I think it's important that I feed my animals as well as I can.

Widget is a cutie.

katie
catmad
Pelzer, SC
(Zone 7b)

July 17, 2012
8:12 AM

Post #9208654

Sounds good :)

Go get 'em, Widget!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
11:09 AM

Post #9208921

Thanks, katiebear,

I'll check out the food site for treat ideas.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
11:13 AM

Post #9208928

Thanks, catmad,

Widget really is doing far better on his diet than I had anticipated - although last night he did manage to sneak a few bits of the cat's dry food when my back was turned. He only got a thimble full (does anyone even know what a thimble is anymore?) before I stopped him and moved the food out of his reach. The good news is that he has pretty much stopped begging and even trying to guilt me with the sad face. I guess now that he realizes those things aren't working, he has quit trying.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 17, 2012
11:39 AM

Post #9208964

For those who might want to make dog treats, I thought I would offer you my process for getting it done fast and easy with almost no cleanup. You can find countless dog treat recipes online, so I'm just going to give you my streamlined method. It may look like a lot of steps. That's only because I have tried to fully explain the steps I use to shave off time & cleanup. The steps for mixing, etc take about 10min. Baking takes 30min or so. Cleanup requires washing just 1 bowl.

(1) Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. (for my recipe that means rice flour, corn meal, oatmeal, eggs, dried milk, freeze-dried liver crumbs, and a small amount of oil or fat - I save hamburger drippings for this.)

(2) Wearing plastic or rubber gloves (I like to use the disposable plastic ones), mix the stiff dough with your hand.

(3) Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

(4) Take a handful of dough in your hand, roll around in hand to make rough ball, flatten out to about 1/2in thick. Remember neatness does not count. Dogs don't care.

(5) While still holding flattened dough in one hand, use kitchen shears with the other hand to cut into strips 1/2in - 3/4in wide.

(6) Place strips on cookie sheet. Repeat steps 2-6 until all dough has been used up.

(7) If you desire small bite sized treats, do the following. After all strips have been placed on foil lined cookie sheet, use cooking shears to snip 1/2 way through dough strips at 1/2in or so intervals. Don't try to snip all the way through, because you will end up cutting through the foil. By snipping just 1/2 way through the dough, you end up scoring the dough so you will be able to break them apart easily after baking. (Sometimes I skip the scoring step and just break the strips into smaller pieces by hand, but scoring makes for smaller pieces. The chewy ones don't keep as well, so I refrigerate/freeze them immediately, exc)

(8) Bake as directed. (my recipe bakes at 325 for 30min, after which I remove 1/2 from the oven and leave the other half in the hot oven overnight to dry thoroughly. This gives me some that are slightly chewy and some that are rock hard. The chewy ones don't keep as well. I put a few of those in a baggie for 'now', and refrigerate or freeze the rest.)

(9) Put treats in ziploc bag or other container. Toss gloves. Toss foil. Now you only have the one large bowl to wash.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Leesburg, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 19, 2012
5:23 PM

Post #9211820

was thinking 'bout lil Widget... glad to hear he's doing well.

Do you have any way to weigh him... baby scale?

Our Vet lets us use the scale if we happen to pop by? is yours close enough
that if you wanted to see how his weight was after a month - you could do that?

but ya figure, he'd be losing ounces...

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 20, 2012
11:02 AM

Post #9212492

Hi Terese,

Interesting idea about using the vet's scales. I'll have to ask about that. My guess is they would probably do that. Just remembered the one down side of that though. Despite being calm as can be during all manner of Tstorms and fireworks, Widget is terrified of riding in the car. He drives us both crazy on trips of any length, even around the block. Years ago I tried to work with him on desensitizing him, giving him his fav treats in the car, driving down the street and back, etc, all with no effect. Eventually, I stopped taking him anywhere except the vet and grooming, essentials only. After reading one of your posts recently, I asked the vet for meds to keep on hand for vet trips and in case we have to flee in front of a major hurricane one day, but I don't have enough of his pills for weekly weigh-ins. I'll have to think on that one.

I had already been thinking about how to weigh him with what I have on hand here. Somewhere around here, maybe in upstairs bath, have to check, I have a high end model, elex scale, the kind that uses a strain gauge and displays weight via LED or LCD. Some time back I read the strain gauge is very accurate as long as the housing is not flexible (like plastic or thin metal). The one I have is supposed to be a very good/accurate model, although I think it only displays weight to the 1/2 lb, since it was designed for humans. I thought I would try that one 1st.

I also have an actual Drs scale, the type where you move the little weights back and forth until everything is level. It's even the same brand as those found in Drs' offices (although I realize many Drs have now gone digital). It's hard to get Widget to stand still long enough even to snap a photo, much less to move the little weight back and forth. Another problem with using either scale to weigh Widget is that scales designed for humans are by design most accurate in the 100 to 200 lb range and would not likely do well in the 5-10lb range.

I'm thinking the best bet for weighing him might be the one I use for Cocoa. I just weigh myself with and w/o him, usually on the 'Dr type' scale mentioned above, and subtract to find his weight. I'm not sure, but I think that scale is graduated in lbs, which would make it accurate to the 1/2 lb. The only scale I can think of around here that weighs in ounces is a kitchen scale, but I'm pretty sure it maxes out at a few lbs. No baby scale.

I don't want to weigh him frequently. I figure, as with people, his weight may fluctuate due to water, especially when loosing weight. Such fluctuations skew results when people try to weigh themselves daily (or more often). Also, while his Dr stressed the need for him to loose the added weight, she also stressed that she does NOT want him to loose weight rapidly. She said, "it took a year for him to put on the weight, and it should take that long to take it off again." Essentially, she wants him to loose slowly to minimize the stress on his tiny body.

Although it would be nice to see proof, and I will try to weigh him by one of the methods mentioned after a few months, basically, I'm feeling very confident that he will slim down naturally now that I have changed MY behavior. As mentioned before, he really doesn't like dry dog food (any kind), and will only eat enough of it to stay alive. Regrettably, his weight gain is easily explained by all the dog treats, purchased and home baked, along with the baked potatoes and sweet potatoes (he will eat a med potato in one sitting), the bites from my HB or chicken s/w (which I've not been eating lately but used to eat often), the cat food and cat treats, etc, etc, etc.

Now that I have completely stopped giving him any and all of those things listed above, I'm confident he will loose the weight. Since his Drs visit, I have stuck to the plan of giving him only his dry dog food plus 2 treats daily and occasional steamed veggies. When a situation presents itself where I know he will want/expect some of what Cocoa or I am eating, I drain a can of those 'no salt added' green beans and dump them in a small plastic container to give to him, either as treats or by putting a handful or 2 in his bowl. That has worked really well to keep him busy when the rest of us are eating, so he doesn't feel too deprived. I keep the drained beans in the fridge for use over 2-3 days. When I shop again, I will get some frozen broccoli and spinach for additional quick treats for him - and maybe some canned mixed greens sans salt.

Thanks for the idea RE using vet's scale.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 20, 2012
11:20 AM

Post #9212504

katiebear,

Today when I needed to give Widget some green beans, I decided to try your friend's idea. I put about 1/3 of the can of beans (well drained) into his dish with his dry dog food. I think the result drives home my point that, unlike many dogs, Widget doesn't like dry dog food and isn't likely to overeat his dog food. He picked the beans out of the dish, eating every single one of them - and not one bit of the dog food.

I like the idea though. It makes it easier for me to dispense beans w/o having to give them one at a time and w/o having to mess up a 2nd dish.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 20, 2012
11:34 AM

Post #9212515

I'm guessing that most of you probably have larger dogs. Remember even a cocker spaniel is 7 times the size of Widget. I'm guessing it is probably also difficult for most to imagine how Widget eats. He doesn't chow down or gulp his food as some large dogs are inclined to do. He eats more like a cat, very slowly and in a very picky manner. The individual pieces in his current food, TOTW grain free, are round and flat and smaller than a dime. He will go to his dish, pick up one of those pieces, take it over to his bed, and lie down to eat it - like the human on the sofa with a bag of chips. When he finishes that one piece, he will go back to the dish, get another one, and head back to his bed. Repeat. Repeat. (Basically, I think he's like a dog-cat hybrid.)

For the green beans he will actually stay at his dish to eat them. When given dry food with very tiny bits, I've seen him pick up a 'doggie handful' in his lips (5 or so pieces), carry them to his bed, drop them, and lie down to eat them individually before returning for another 'handful'.

I used to give him those premium, small dog containers of wet food on rare occasion. I quickly learned that I had to cut the 'congealed' block of food into small pieces before giving it to him after the day I saw him pick the entire 'brick' of Caesar's up gently in his mouth and carry it over to his bed to eat it. Yuck. Of course, I made him put it back in his dish, where I quickly cut it into small pieces to prevent a re-occurrence. (Definitely, a strange dog.)
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 20, 2012
5:58 PM

Post #9212827

Good point about how small he is--it actually made me think about whether you ought to be keeping an eye on how much he eats even of green beans. They have very minimal calories in the context of a person or a larger dog (even my medium size dog who I fed them to was ~30 lb) but for a tiny dog even the calories from green beans could be significant if he's getting a lot of them. If you were trading things out a particular volume of food (or treats) for a similar volume of green beans then clearly the green beans are a better choice, but since they're really just replacing some of the treats he used to have you may find you need to be a little careful of the quantities. I don't really know how many calories green beans have though, maybe they're so little that it would be negligible even for a 5 lb dog.
Doug9345
Durhamville, NY
(Zone 5b)

July 20, 2012
7:45 PM

Post #9212935

Good point Ecrane. I think many of us are having a hard time wrapping our heads around how small he is.

I just put his weight in the Calorie calculator here: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-feeding-tips/dog-food-calculator/

It shows his daily calorie intake at 4.5 pounds for a "typically" active dog is 188 Calories.
I just looked at a can of green beans. It lists that it contains 3.5 servings at 20 Calories per serving. That means the whole can has 70 Calories and 1/3 of a can has 24 Calories. That's about 1/7 of his total Calories for the day! For My dog it shows 2000+ calories per day.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 26, 2012
2:08 PM

Post #9219645

Sorry, Everyone,

Recently I got behind on everything. Had to many obligations at work and home. Then started more threads and conversations than I could keep up with. I will be back soon, soon, soon to respond to recent posts.

Right now I dropped in to say, OMG, I can't beLIEVE the cute birthday card Widget got from his Dr's office. Hmm. My Dr doesn't even send me a b-day card at all, much less a really cool one like Widget got. It was an online card. Apparently, Widget and I are sharing an email addy now.

Each year they take a current pic of Widget for his records. The pic goes on the front of his file, where, among other things, it helps to prevent errors of the 'wrong patient' kind. There is also an online Pet Portal where I can fill in various info about Widget and other pets and upload additional photos. Widget's b-day card was a video in which they used Widget's pics to put him in the action: Widget wearing cool shades while sitting on the sofa. Widget driving a convertible, top down, etc. There is also a cat in the video. They used a pic of Kitty I uploaded to the Pet Portal to put her in the video with Widget. The cat & dog in the video animated. They are the color of Kitty & Widget respectively and each has the appropriate face (taken from the photos and re-sized accordingly). I'm thinking maybe they have a software program that makes the video from the photos. Regardless, it was well done. I was impressed.

There is something else in Widget's 'e-gift', but I haven't figured it out yet. I just thought the whole thing was very cute. Widget's B-day is in Aug, btw. Should he get diet cake?

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 26, 2012
2:12 PM

Post #9219651

It took me a moment or two to realize the little white dog in the video was actually Widget. 1st I thought, "Look, they sent a video of a white dog to match Widget." Then as the dog came driving toward me in his convertible on the full screen, I suddenly realized it wasn't just a white dog. It was actually Widget - a white dog with Widget's face, at least. Then I see a cat laughing and realize, "OMG, that's Kitty!"

Too cute and creative.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 26, 2012
2:17 PM

Post #9219657

Ok, now I see. They used an online pet ecard service. Anyone can use the service to send pet cards, but the site targets pet related businesses such as vets. They have 150 breeds. The sender chooses the breed and the card type (b-day, etc) and supplies a photo of the pet's face. Ecard service puts the video together. Cute.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 26, 2012
4:49 PM

Post #9219791

Very cute!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 14, 2012
10:17 AM

Post #9241297

ecrane & Doug,

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this thread. I overloaded myself with more threads and conversations than I could handle there for a while, especially with my work load. For a while there, I sort of 'lost' this thread.

I wanted to tell yo both that I was very heartened when I read your posts about the green beans. I could see that you had really made that huge leap in logic toward seeing things from the perspective of such a tiny dog. There world is so unexpectedly different from that of normal dogs, that it is hard for us to 'get it'. I was well into the lifespan of my 1st Maltese before I finally realized the need to alter my thinking considerably from dealing with [real] dogs.

That said and not in any way to detract from how thrilled I am that you really do 'get it' now about dealing with a 5lb dog, there are, I believe, a few glitches in your logic. Make no mistake, I was truly impressed with your logic and calculations regarding the caloric content of beans. I have 2 caveats, however.

First, the caloric content of food is determined via some laboratory process to determine the amount of heat/energy which can be derived from the item. This process does not truly represent the manner in which the human or other body breaks down food. Roughly half of the calories in string beans and other, so called, low calorie vegetables is tied up in cellulose (plant fiber). While plant eaters like horses have the means to break this substance down and extract the calories, humans do not, and I suspect the same is true for dogs. Most of this substance travels through our system w/o breaking down, which is why fiber has the beneficial effect attributed to it.

In the horse world (remember horses can break down the cellulose), there is a term "grass gut" which refers to the enormous (fat) abdomens of horses fed unlimited grass and little or nothing else. I once bought a male with "grass gut". He looked like he was about to give birth any day. He had been eating a diet of unlimited carbs and almost no protein. He slimmed down and muscled out nicely with proper feeding. The point here is people cannot subsist on nothing but unlimited lettuce or cabbage (rough equivalent of grass), and we certainly can't get fat off of it - because, unlike horses, we can't break down the cellulose to extract the calories. Most diets allow unlimited (or nearly so) quantities of lettuce, beans, and other such veggies, because it's impossible for us to consume enough of these fiber filled foods to extract a meaningful number of calories.

Now, it is true that the math is a bit more critical with a creature the size of Widget, where even 1/2 the calories of the beans may still make a difference. That brings us to my other caveat. I think you missed the fact that Widget hates dry dog food, any brand. I know that I can count on him to only eat the minimum qty of dry dog food needed to stave off starvation. He simply will not overeat dry dog food. That's why I know I can give it in unlimited quantities. When I put beans in his dish, he eats the beans and leaves the dry dog food. He eats the beans instead of the dog food not in addition to it, thus the beans actually decrease his caloric intake - as with human dieters.

Now for the good news...

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 14, 2012
10:58 AM

Post #9241330

1st, an explanation of why I was confident Widget would loose on the new plan of unlimited dry food, some low cal veggies, and 2 treats daily. I had information and insights that you did not. I knew just how much Widget had been eating before. While you were looking at the situation from the perspective of how many calories we think he needs minus how many we think he is getting on the new diet, I was looking at it in terms of how much he used to eat vs how much he is now eating. I knew the difference was enormous and thus had to yield results.

As mentioned, Widget won't eat his dry dog food until he is sure he won't be getting anything else, and then he will only eat the minimum required to stave off starvation. He simply will not 'pig out' on dry dog food. The opposite is true of ALL the other things I was allowing him to eat, everything from cat food to cat treats to almost nonstop dog treats and so on, plus occasional bites of this and that. For instance, he loves potatoes and sweet potatoes, so when cooking them for me, I often tossed an extra one in the microwave for him. He would literally eat an entire medium potato by himself - and want more.

After discussing the situation, both the vet and I were convinced that once the 'doggie junk food' was removed from his diet, he would slim down naturally on the plan we decided on. My biggest concern was not that he would fail to loose on the proposed diet but rather how I would manage to keep him on such a strict regimen after all that he had been accustomed to eating - and expecting.

In truth, while it has been difficult, it hasn't been nearly as difficult as I had anticipated it might be. For anyone else who might be considering putting their pup on a diet, there were 2 things that were most helpful in making this bearable both for me and him - two things other than the simple fact of realizing it must be done and making up one's mind to do it no matter how difficult. Those two things were/are (1) starting out by cutting his treats into a number of tiny bits and (2) using low cal veggies as a sub for some of the things he had been accustomed to receiving.

Pre-diet, I had been giving him a LOT of treats, treats every time he did what he was supposed to do and every time the cats got treats and every time he tolerated some form of grooming or medicine, etc, etc. It was going to be very difficult to go from 1/2 bag of treats a day to 2, especially since he knows when he is supposed to get a treat and expects it. To cut to 2, suddenly he would not be getting any of those treats. By cutting one treat into many slivers, I was able to continue to give him lots of treats throughout the day at 1st. Later, as his mind and stomach got more accustomed to the new diet, I started giving him larger pieces but much less often, always keeping to the 2/day limit. It has been a couple months now and already he expects treats much less often.

He was accustomed to getting treats when the cats got treats and even eating the cats dry food. Note that he is jealous of the cats, so I knew it would be tough to stop giving him these things. He was also accustomed to getting tastes of my food when I ate healthy, low salt foods, lean meats, veggies, rice. To aid in weaning him off these things w/o the total shock of just giving him nothing, I used vegetables: steamed broccoli and cauliflower when they were abundant, canned collards/turnips/kale, and canned string beans. I found the canned (no salt) beans most convenient. I would open a can, pour off the liquid, and put them in a plastic container in the fridge. When I had a meal or when I fed the cat, times when i knew he would want some, too, I would break out his container of veggies so he wouldn't feel totally denied. I had to balance this with the need to not give him so many beans that he would get tired of them and they would loose their value.

All of this worked great, and your support was awesome and very helpful (to bolster my will and spirits), especially in those early days of the new diet. Even w/o a scale, I could see within a few weeks that he was slimming down. I could see a difference in his tummy line. I also observed a difference in his energy and activity levels. One big difference I noticed after about a month was in his athletic ability.

All his life he had climbed from the floor to the bench and then to the bed and had used the same method of getting back down again. Then suddenly one day he stopped being able to jump from the bench to the floor - not a huge leap for him. Whereas he had always hopped right down, he would now stand there and wine. I had to pick him up and put him on the floor. This was before the diet. At the time, I just attributed it to age (he's only 7 or 8). After about a month of dieting, he didn't need help getting down anymore. He hadn't been too old to get down. He had been too fat - and now he isn't!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 14, 2012
11:13 AM

Post #9241337

Two weeks ago I finally found the time to begin weighing him. I decided to do it at home. As a former dieter, I know that scales can differ by as much as 5lbs, so you cannot compare weights taken from different scales. The only legitimate way to use my scales would be to take an initial reading and use that as comparison for future readings - basically disregarding the reading from the vet's scale and disregarding any weight lost prior to the base reading.

Using this method and a high quality scale (old Dr's type) graduated in 1/4lb increments, I weighed myself both with and w/o Widget to derive his weight. I did this 2 wks ago and again today, carefully recording the results. For best results, one should weigh the same time each day as we gain a little (2lbs for humans) during the day from food and fluids). I did his original weigh-in at night and this one in the morning, so there may be a few ounces (maybe 1/2lb error).

The difference between the two weigh-ins was HUGE! 3lbs, 4oz! I'm going to 'toss' the 4oz due to taking readings at different times of day, and say he lost 3lbs! Wow! We did good. I'm glad I didn't withhold more food, as the vet had wanted him to loose slowly. During the early weeks of dieting I could tell the poor fella was ravenous. That's why I was glad to be able to provide the beans to fill him up and help him over the early diet shock.

He looks great and much younger, and I can tell he feels better (from his energy and activity). Also, he no longer shows signs of starving, so I can see that he has made the transition to accepting this as his new normal. Now he expects and gets treats much less often, such that his 2 daily treats are now dispensed in 1/2 and 1/4 sized pieces as apposed to the tiny slivers of day 1.

Big thanks to Everyone for all of your help and support!
Doug9345
Durhamville, NY
(Zone 5b)

August 17, 2012
7:37 AM

Post #9244482

I'm glad he's doing well.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 17, 2012
8:15 AM

Post #9244523

Thanks, Doug!

I guess he's still going through some 'withdrawals', but he is handling it pretty well and is loosing weight. This week I noticed that he acts at times as though he hasn't eaten in days. He has dry dog food available all day but avoids eating it until he realizes he isn't getting anything else. Yesterday, I broke out a can of string beans, and he went 'nuts', acting like he was starving to death. I just keep reminding myself, to paraphrase my Mom, as long as there is uneaten dog food in his dish, he isn't THAT hungry.

Yesterday I started an early morning walking routine for both of us. Right now we are only going 1/2 block. It's hot out there this time of year, even early in the AM, and I want to start slow to give him a chance to get in shape gently. Don't want to push him too hard all at once. Yesterday he came home panting, but today I didn't notice the panting, so he seems to be improving already. Panting or not, he is loving the opportunity to get out and experience the world.

We stopped walking several years ago due to my injury, so I'm sure that didn't help his weight/health situation much - or mine either. Luckily, I'm having much less pain now and am able to work on getting us both back in shape again.

Thanks again.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 17, 2012
8:25 AM

Post #9244540

Glad to hear he's losing some weight! Unless your vet has said otherwise I'd be a little careful though--3 lb of weight loss in a couple of weeks would be fine for a person, but it seems like it would be too fast for a tiny little dog when you look at what % of his body weight that 3 lb represents. I'm not a vet of course, but I expect that with animals as well as humans, losing weight a little slower is probably preferable.

To be fair though, I don't know how much his weight would fluctuate due to difference in water retention, etc between morning/night or from day to day so maybe he hasn't actually lost as much as you thought (unless you were feeding him a really ridiculous amount of treats before, it doesn't seem like you've cut back his calories so drastically that he would lose that high a percent of his body weight in that short a time)

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 17, 2012
10:31 AM

Post #9244646

Hi ecrane,

I agree. I actually came to pretty much the same conclusion shortly after weighing him that day and writing the post. I had intended to come back and say as much, but I've been so busy with other things that it slipped my mind. I agree that he probably couldn't loose that much that fast, that it seems mathematically improbable if not downright impossible.

For starters, after thinking about it I decided I had messed up on the time frame which was probably closer to 4wks. In addition, I do think that he probably lost weight faster than was desirable and in doing so also lost some water weight as happens when people loose quickly. Also, before the diet I had been giving him what now seems an insane quantity of treats and other things. I'll spare you the reasons but there at the 'end' I was probably giving him a bag of 'bribes', I mean treats, every 2 to 3 days, and that's not to mention the cat food, potatoes and other foods. I had grown accustomed to thinking he would not eat more than he needed, but clearly I was wrong.

There was a huge deficit between what he had been eating and what he was eating on the new diet. I knew that. It was the reason I was certain he would loose. I was also concerned that I might even be cutting back too much, too fast. That's why I didn't want to take away the string beans. It probably would have been better if he had lost more slowly, but what's done is done now. Luckily, he seems healthy. I would worry that he isn't getting enough food even now, except that he has that dish of high quality dry dog food sitting there uneaten. If he were really that hungry, he would eat more of the dog food. All along I've continued to give him unlimited access to dry dog food as insurance against the possibility of starving him by mistake.

Lastly, although I'm certain he has lost a very noticeable amount, both visually and athletically noticeable, it is possible that I might have erred in my numbers somewhere between the 2 weigh ins. I'm not going to sweat that right now though. I know he has lost and probably continues to loose. I also know he isn't too thin. I figure weigh in errors will work themselves out over time, like when we see the next reading, for instance.

Basically, though, I do agree with your assessment of the situation.

stillwood

stillwood
Franklinton, NC

August 17, 2012
11:13 AM

Post #9244679

Dream - please excuse me for intruding on your very interesting thread about Widget - but you seem to be the very person to advise me about feeding a tiny dog. I got a Toy Fox Terrier (Charlie) Tuesday (8/14). Age is 13 months and weight is 5 lbs. 2 ½ oz. He has not been eating very much at all as all is so new (being kidnapped by aliens and brought to a new environment – away from his mama, papa, litter mates, and major human). He is a beautiful little boy – show quality and sturdy. I definitely do not want to let him gain too much weight. This morning he did eat a spoonful of meat and 2 bites of cheese. His breeder (Barbara Andrews) said his appetite will return as he settles down and gets acclimated. But what should I feed him in your opinion? She feeds her pups raw or lightly cooked meat (chicken or beef) with vegetables and fruits (small quantities). She does not like commercial foods (warns against wheat, soy, preservatives, dyes, etc). Cooking for him will not be a problem as he is so small – he can eat what we eat pretty much as we do not eat salted foods or junk food. Anyway, can you recommend what type of kibble you give Widget (Charlie has not touched the kibble I bought – Buffalo Blue, I think), but did eat some beef and chicken yesterday. Thanks for the advice.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 24, 2012
12:18 PM

Post #9252306

Hi stillwood,

I am SO sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. In brief, I got caught up in all the other things that were going on in my life at the time and just forgot. I hope you haven't given up on me entirely. I'm humbled that you thought to seek my advise on this matter. This really isn't my area of expertise. Just from living with small dogs for a few decades now and making my own mistakes, I have learned some of the special needs of small dogs and am happy to pass that information along.

By now I imagine that Charlie has had some time to calm down and adjust to his new home - and you are no longer an alien to him.

Even experts disagree on the best way to feed dogs. Some believe in the cooking for them, mostly meat and vegetables (as mentioned by katiebear above). Others believe that high quality dog food is best. These are the two main camps, but there are lots of variations among them. Although I readily admit that I don't know the definitive answer (but, again, I'm in good company as no one else does either), I'm inclined to think that it's best to go with a good, high quality, grain-free, DRY dog food. I believe this is the better way to go for a number of reasons, including: (1) dog food is balanced to meet the needs of dogs and includes all of the vitamins and minerals dogs need, whereas if you cook for them you have to try to figure out how much they need and of what foods, (2) dry dog food is least likely to lead to dental problems, and (3) your dog is less likely to overeat on a diet of high quality, grain-free, dry dog food.

Small dogs are especially prone to dental issues. Not sure about your breed, but most Maltese loose most or even all of their teeth by old age, so this is a real problem for them. Human food and canned dog food are more likely to exacerbate this problem. Dry food is recommended.

Giving a dog meat is a lot like giving us chocolate cake and ice cream. They are more likely to eat until they are about to pop - as we are with our favorite desserts. High quality, dry dog food is more akin to health food. It's better for them even though they don't like it as much and are less likely to overeat it.

However, dogs are much more likely to accept a diet of dry dog food if they are started on it. Now that your dog has tasted meat and other 'human' foods, it will probably be more difficult to switch him over. If it were me, I would try to do so anyhow, but that is something you will need to decide.

As to which dry dog food is best, I can't claim to know the answer to that question either, I'm afraid, but I can give you good parameters. First, avoid anything you can get from the grocery store. To learn about quality dog foods, I would suggest you stop by a small pet food store, preferably one with 'holistic' or similar terms in the name. Once you know which names are 'good', you can by them from a warehouse or even online. I like to look for a dry dog food marketed for small or 'toy' dogs or one in which the chunks are very small. Small dogs have a hard time getting their mouths around large chunks and/or exerting max bite force at such a wide angle.

Some brands to consider: Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Prairie, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free, Natural Balance, Evo, Wellness Grain Free. This is not an exhaustive list; however, these are some of the foods I have used and like. Each of these brands produces a number of different varieties. Be sure to look for one that is 'grain-free' and then check to see if it offers a product specific to small dogs (words like 'small bites'). Each of these brands will offer a grain free option and most also have a small dog product.

To find the 'grain-free', small dog product within a particular brand line, Amazon can be very helpful (whether you buy from them or not) as you can search terms like "dry dog food Evo grain-free small bite". Sometimes I find it best to search for the grain free line and then look at the options in that line to see if any are specific to small dogs. Some product lines use small enough chunks that their normal products are ok for small dogs.

As for feeding Charlie what you and your DH are eating, I would strongly urge you NOT do that. Even when you think your food is low salt, it is probably still to high in both salt and fat for Charlie. For instance, you mentioned cheese. Cheese is very high in both fat and sodium. You should refrain from giving him more than a tiny bite size piece of cheese (1/4oz or less) and then only on rare occasion. I think of small dogs like the canary in the coal mine. Things which are bad for us in large quantities may make them gravely ill even in moderate or small quantities (VERY IMPORTANT). I learned my lesson about feeding small dogs from the table after my 1st Maltese developed a nasty bout of pancreatitis.

If you are determined to give Charlie 'human' food, keep it to things like chicken breast or other lean meat, steamed w/o any salt or other seasonings, steamed rice (with the chicken), and vegetables, all cooked w/o any salt or seasonings (very important). Vegetables can be raw or steamed. Frozen vegetables can be microwaved or steamed. Canned vegetables are fine ONLY if you get 'salt free' or 'no salt added' varieties. Some veggies my dog loves: broccoli, string beans, spinach, collards, kale (or other 'greens'), cabbage. He now like cauliflower but it took him years to acquire that taste. He also loves sweet potato and apple. He can have unlimited quantities of the veggies mentioned, but sweet potato and apple should be given in small quantities only. Also, it's important to give him not just meat but also vegetables. Unlike cats, dogs are not true carnivores. They do need other things in their diet besides just meat.

Things you should NEVER give him: chocolate, coffee, sorbitol (sp? sweetener), grapes, raisins, garlic, onion, any green or sprouted area of a potato. Grapes, raisins, garlic, and onion are all bad for his liver. That many human foods are seasoned with onion and/or garlic is yet another reason not to feed him from the table. Milk and milk products may upset his stomach, although Widget has no problem with a small bit of milk on occasion.

Bottom line, as I mentioned earlier, due to their tiny size 'toy' sized dogs are hyper sensitive to salt/sodium, fat, and other things which only present a problem for other dogs if consumed in large quantity. If you observe your dog after he eats cheese or other salty food you will see that he drinks a LOT of water in an attempt to dilute that salt. Seemingly small amounts of fat (as in human foods) will often result in nasty bouts of diarrhea, so beware.

That's all I can think of right now. If I missed anything, please don't hesitate to ask or ask again. I'll try to answer sooner next time. In summation, my recommendation is to feed him a high quality dry dog food - plus steamed or raw veggies if you like. I would refrain from giving him meat other than, if you must, a SMALL (bite sized) taste on rare occasion (otherwise he won't eat his kibble). Hope things are going well for Charlie in his new home!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 24, 2012
1:17 PM

Post #9252372

Forgot to mention Orijen. I've not used this brand but it looks like a very high quality food, especially the 'Regional Red' grain-free line.

If you read the ingredient list on the dry dog foods recommended above, you will see that they are much different from grocery store brands. Whereas the latter contain a lot of corn meal, corn gluten, and meat by products, these foods list meat along with such things as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, kelp, and other healthy foods rich in antioxidants and omega 3 oils. If you are still concerned about the quality of ingredients in your dog food, there are a few varieties out there that use only 'human quality' food - because there is a difference in the grade of food used in pet food vs human food. Brands that say they only use food certified 'fit for humans' include Candidae & Orijen. Check out the Orijen website. This food looks particularly interesting to me. It's quite expensive but for a tiny dog it shouldn't be that bad. I may look into this one for Widget.

Something else to consider: a diet too high in protein may damage a dog's kidneys. This is why it's important that you feed your dog more than just meat. It's also why dogs should not be allowed to eat cat food (even though they would prefer the cat food, it's too high in protein for them).

I used to think, "If I don't need to eat 'dry human food', why does the dog need to eat dry dog food?" I've already explained the 'dry' part earlier (dental benefit). One answer to this question is that while you and I are guided by cravings which help to insure we get the nutrients we need, our dogs can only eat what we provide, and we can't feel their cravings. Thus it is much more difficult for us to know whether or not they are getting the right mix to insure optimum health. If figure food specifically manufactured for dogs increases our chances of getting this right.

(Example: whenever I am running low in potassium, I begin to develop strong cravings for orange juice, especially the concentrate - which I suddenly want to eat like sorbet - and tomato sauce rich products like spaghetti and even bread sticks dipped in lots of pizza sauce. When I looked these foods up I found that both are concentrated sources of potassium. You may have noticed similar cravings of your own.)

stillwood

stillwood
Franklinton, NC

August 24, 2012
1:26 PM

Post #9252380

Thanks for your advice and I agree with it. We have not been feeding him from the table after all (although our diet is pretty much what you suggested - low fat and low salt from a people standpoint). He has started eating normally now (strangeness is gone). I have not given cheese since day 2 although he obviously likes it. Today for our short training session I used tiny bits of lean beef which I had cooked slightly (no salt). He was hungry at the time and responded well (we were learning to sit and after 3 times of my gently pushing his bottom down, saying Charlie, Sit, and then rewarding him with praise and a sliver of beef, he caught on and his little rump hit the floor every time. We had to stop after about 7 times as he was anticipating and sitting down when I just looked at him!). We'll see if he remembers anything about it tomorrow. Anyway, the breeder (Mrs. Andrews) did say that she fed "wet food" - meat and veggies in the morning and only a small amount of dry kibble in the evening. She said he would eat the kibble after settling down as he was used to it. Yesterday he finally ate a bit of the Blue Buffalo kibble that I had bought (I could only find a largish bag - at his size the kibble will dry up and outdate before he gets a third of the way through the bag). I wish someone sold just small quantities of kibble - could I freeze some or would it get soggy? Maybe I need to try it. I did find some specialized foods (after researching a bit) - Wilderness and Blue - which are free of soy, wheat, corn, preservatives, etc. He seems to like them and I can add some raw chicken or beef at times. I know we are talking about only small amounts of any of this. I'll try him on some of the vegetables you feed Widget - like the green beans I have been reading about. There are several places on the web that compare these canned foods for toxic or unwise additives (of course, all of the grocery store foods are high in the BAD stuff). Just like for people.

Now that I have your attention (LOL) - I need advice about something else. I am very afraid of the chemicals in all the flea meds offered by vets. What do you do? Barbara insists that if I keep him clean, well groomed, and healthy, fleas will not be a problem. She is a Hall of Fame AKC judge and has raised dogs for 40 years (first Akitas and then TFTs), so she must have a lot of experience. I think she just orders her dogs not to get fleas and they obey (LOL). But I doubt if my situation will be so ideal. Since I take him for walks, he is almost bound to get fleas as some point. What do you think? Is it possible to deal with this without such toxic stuff? What did people do before Big Pharma got involved and in hand with all the vets? Thank you.
This little fellow has complicated my life enormously. I did not realize how lazy I was getting. So he is good for me (it’s time to go walk again). I want to be good for him also. I can't let him get to know racoons like your Widget does, but he seems to want to get to know the squirrels in our garden really badly! They just laugh and scamper off!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 24, 2012
8:34 PM

Post #9252820

Hi stillwood,

You can freeze the kibble. It should come out the same as before it went in. I sometimes make dog biscuits for Widget. I cut them into tiny pieces (adjusted to his size). I bake them 30min and then leave them in the hot fridge overnight to dry out like kibble. Since they have no preservatives, I freeze all but a handful. I take them out again a handful at a time. I've done this for several years now. They always come out exactly as they went in. Being so dry, there is no water to freeze and thaw. They thaw quickly, but I don't hesitate to give him one straight from the freezer. They make frozen treats for dogs anyhow, including fabric 'bones' (filled with liquid) that you freeze and give the dog to chew on.

Another option besides freezing would be to get a good quality, air tight container for the food. There are many on the market, including some on wheels for the heavy bags. I use these large containers for cat food, "raccoon food", bird seed, etc. Since I buy Widget's food in such a small size, I've been keeping his in a large "Lock N Lock" container. Years back I bought those in sizes from 1cup to 1gallon. I love them, because they have a (removable, washable) gasket around the top that makes a truly air-tight, leak proof seal when closed. (Prefer square types to round) I use them marinate meat, because I can confidently shake them, even shake them upside down, without a single drop of liquid getting out. I even turn the container upside down in the fridge for 1/2 the time when marinating meat - now that's trust.

They do make small bags of the high end dog foods - all the way down to 3-4oz bags. The largest size I buy for Widget is the 7-8oz. The holistic pet food store near me has small bags of some brands. You might just need to look around your area. Try looking around online 1st. You may be able to find the information that way. For instance, recently when I wanted to buy a particular brand for Widget, I went to that brand's website and put in my zip code to find vendor's near me. For another food in which the website didn't offer this service, I checked one of the pet food super stores. I think it was Petco. There website showed the varieties and sizes they sell and, there again, by putting in my zip, they showed me the store closest to me and indicated my store had the product/size I wanted.

Widget came from one of the nation's top breeders of Maltese. She took 1st place at Westminster the year I bought Widget. However, Widget is what is known as 'pet quality' rather than show quality. Even then I paid an embarrassing amount for him. The breeder was adamant that I NOT give him flee meds. She said it might damage his liver.

Like your breeder, she was sure fleas would not be a problem. She was SO wrong. I think it depends on where you live. Fleas are probably less of a problem in some parts of the country vs here. If NC is anything like SC, all manner of insects thrive here where we don't have cold winters to kill them off and where our humidity favors them. My breeder was 1/2 a country away. I figure she doesn't know my area. Call me a bad pet parent, but I use prescription flea meds. Widget is currently taking Trifexis. He is 7 or 8 now. I loose track. No sign of problems.

My property backs up to a forest. At night all manner of wildlife come out and enjoy my yard, including: deer, raccoons, opossums, neighborhood & feral cats, you name it. We also have lots of squirrels and with a sidewalk in front of our house, lots of people walk their dogs by (and sometimes even on) my front lawn. With so many animals 'sharing' our lawn, it's virtually impossible to prevent fleas - and that's not to mention the fleas we encounter when we go out for a walk.

Maltese have very long, floor length hair. Within weeks of his arrival here Widget was shredding his coat scratching fleas. His coat makes provides lots of comfort and protection for fleas, making it difficult to keep them off him even WITH meds. Worse, his vet says he is very sensitive to them, such that just one bite causes him to scratch himself silly for days. I gave in almost immediately and put him on flea meds. I don't know what people did before these flea products. From my understanding they risked their health and that of their dogs by dipping dogs in harsh pesticides and dusting them with powder and so forth - and then STILL had fleas. This is something you have to decide for yourself, but if the flea situation in your area is anything like here, my guess is you will probably end up using the meds. For us there really isn't a decent alternative.

Hope I covered everything. Oh, yes, forgot to mention. About small bags of pet food. Sometimes I buy mine from Amazon, especially when I forget and let it run out and am too busy to go out shopping. I subscribe to Amazon Prime (around $80/yr). I get 2 day shipping on almost everything, including even pet food, for free and overnight shipping for only $3.99 - and they carry the high end pet foods, including small bags. When I'm on a tight project deadline and am near the bottom of the dog/cat food bag, I order a bag from Amazon. It costs a dollar or two more most of the time (vs local warehouse prices), but they will have it at my front door by 10AM the following morning even when I order it at night. For only $3.99, you can't beat that. Or they will have it here on Wed if I order it on Mon night, for instance, at no charge.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 24, 2012
9:05 PM

Post #9252838

For training treats, I like (and Widget LOVES) freeze dried liver treats for dogs. You can get beef, chicken, and lamb varieties. This is 100% liver not a liver flavored treat. It's freeze dried, so it's not yucky. It's usually cut into rough cubes about the size of a sugar cube or slightly larger. I figure that's large dog size, so I take a sharp paring knife or kitchen shears and cut them into tiny, bite sized pieces more appropriate to his size.

Widget will do anything for even the tiniest piece of dried liver. When he was a puppy, I started putting his pills at the back of his tongue and then holding his mouth closed (gently) until he swallows. Afterward I always give him a couple of liver treats, both as incentive and to make sure he doesn't take the pill on an empty stomach. Shortly after I started doing this, Widget began to WANT to take his medicine. I think I may have the only dog who comes running when he sees me get out his medicine. Sometimes he wants to take MY medicine when he sees the bottle. Most dogs try to avoid taking medicine. Widget comes running, eyes wide with excitement, and climbs up on my knee, because he can't wait to get to the treat part.

I'm glad to hear that Charlie's training is going so well. The female Maltese I had before Widget was super smart and easy to train - and she really wanted to please. Widget, unfortunately, is a bit of a problem child. I did manage to teach him the basics (sit, stay, drop, etc), but it took a lot more work with him. Until he was about 6yrs old he had the attention span of a gnat, and he isn't always that eager to please. He wants to do what he wants to do. Thank goodness for dried liver treats.

Oh, also forgot to mention that I got a good chuckle out of your comment about the breeder's dogs not getting fleas because she tells them it will be so. ROTFLOL!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 25, 2012
7:01 PM

Post #9253766

To solve the problem of the dog getting ahead of you in training (doing things before you ask), once he knows 2 or more commands, mix them up. Even better, google "principle of intermittent reinforcement". This is what most professional animal trainers use. It's used at seaworld, for instance. It works for all trainable animals and gets them to totally focus their mind on you and on trying to do what you ask to the best of their ability. It works well for humans, too. It's the basis of gambling and why that tends to evoke such obsession in people.

It will probably sound all wrong when you 1st read it, but don't decide too quickly. I use it to get Widget to 'stay'. He will now stay alone in another room for 2hrs waiting for me to come back, even though the door is open. He will even stay by himself in the room while answer the door and do other things which normally would cause him to come running. Intermittent reinforcement also keeps animals from getting so focused on the treat that they do a quick, half-baked attempt at the trick and then expect a treat.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Leesburg, FL
(Zone 9a)

November 24, 2012
10:07 AM

Post #9341280

all this talk about food... [on the kitty thread]

how is lil Widget doing with his "diet" ?

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

November 24, 2012
5:37 PM

Post #9341557

Terese,

All in all, I feel he is doing well. It's only a few months before his annual vet check, so we shall know for sure soon. Once or twice I gave him a little something extra - and I do mean little and only maybe twice. Otherwise, he has stuck to his diet of dog kibble & no more than 2 treats per day. Lately, some days he only gets one treat, so his expectations have been revised quite a bit from where we started - with him eating a half dozen or more treats a day.

He still eats string beans but now only a small qty and not very often. In addition, he eats collards, cabbage, broccoli, and a bit of apple when he can get it. No people food & no cat food. He has made huge changes, and I have seen improvements in his energy and athletic prowess. Thanks for asking. I'll let you know for sure (and quantify it) after his vet check.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2012
6:13 AM

Post #9359645

stillwood,

I've been 'away' for some weeks now, and I was involved in a number of threads/discussions before I left, such that now I'm having some difficulty remembering who said what where. I believe it was you who had recently lamented the fact that your puppy doesn't show an interest in vegetables. (Hope I have that right.)

This morning as I was sharing some of my breakfast broccoli with Widget (clearly I don't adhere to the rules about which foods to eat for which meals), it occurred to me that while he loves pretty much all veggies now, I don't believe I started offering him vegetables until he was a few years old. No particular reason, just the way things worked out. So, basically, I have no idea if he would have eaten them as a puppy or not.

That got me thinking that maybe animals are like humans in that their taste for some foods may change with age. You know how kids often will have nothing to do with certain foods only to grow over the years into adults who love those same foods. For me it was onions and mushrooms. I was forever vigilant as a kid in case Mom tried to sneak those horrible, 'slimy' mushrooms & onions into the roast or the gravy or whatever. Now I love both mushrooms and onions. Both are on my 'must haves' list. I keep multiple varieties of each on hand and use them in just about everything but dessert.

As I continued to follow this line of thinking, that perhaps animals' taste preferences may mature over time, I recalled my cat Cocoa who is about 3 now - I think. As a kitten, Cocoa would only eat dry cat food - and tuna. He would not have anything to do with canned cat food regardless of brand or flavor, nor would he even taste such things as cheese, eggs, steamed chicken breast, ground beef, lean pork loin, etc. When he was in his 2's, he started nibbling a little canned cat food occasionally, but he would only eat a teaspoon or so, if that. Sometimes he would just lick the juice off the stuff and leave it. Now he loves canned cat food and will eat all he can get. He also now loves cheese, chicken, and pork loin. (He has only had a few small pieces of cheese and pork loin, but he wanted more.)

Hopefully, by now you can see where I'm going with this. I'm thinking just because a 'youngster' of any species eschews a particular food, doesn't mean he will feel that way as an adult. My advice would be to offer vegetables again in a few months, and if that doesn't work try again in a year or so. You might be surprised at some point to find that his taste in food has grown along with him. With that said, I should also warn you (in case he never grows into those carrots) that about the only vegetable Widget won't eat is the one that ever book and ever veterinarian says dogs love - carrots. He will eat all the broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, green beans, butter beans, potatoes, etc (and even tomatoes) that he can get, but he will spit out any sliver of carrot I try to sneak in there every time.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2013
9:40 AM

Post #9424334

I just weighed Widget, and I figured it was time for an update. I've been keeping a journal of his weigh-ins on my laptop. As previously discussed, the numbers from his 2nd weigh-in appear to be anomalous (error). After I thought about it, I realized it seemed pretty much impossible for him to loose the specified amount in such a short time span. Not knowing which of the 2 numbers was incorrect, the initial weight or the 2nd one, I decided, in keeping with the scientific method, to keep both numbers and continue on, knowing the erroneous number would likely become obvious over time (as it would be out of line with the other data). Hope I've managed to make that sound sufficiently confusing. :-)

I have now done a series of 6 weigh-ins over a period of some 7months (July - Feb). Sure enough, if I toss the 2nd reading which lies out of line with the rest, the remaining data shows a slow, steady, downward progression with a weight loss to date of 1.75lb (1 and 3/4 lbs). This number I believe. Not only is it more realistic but all of the readings (except that one erroneous one) form a reasonably straight line.

In truth, we have not been perfect in our dieting efforts. After those 1st few rigorous months, it was only natural, I think, that we would relax a tiny bit towards something more natural for us. Over time, Widget tired of all those green beans, and I stopped offering them lest he end up hating them altogether. I continued to keep him on his dog food and off cat food, although he did manage to steal a few small nuggets here and there, mostly when dropped by the cat. I kept him to 2 treats a day - mostly, except for a couple of days when an extra treat seemed warranted (like when taking his monthly medicine).

Perhaps most important, 2nd to cat food, I refrained from sharing my food with him, with a few exceptions. I love collards and eat 2-3 bunches a month when in season. I gave him lots of collards, mostly chopped and steamed midribs. I also shared very small bites of lean chicken and ultra lean pork chops from time to time. I also broke down and gave him 1/4 of my baked potato a time or two. While I had been instructed not to do so, I felt this small qty on very rare occasion wouldn't likely break the bank. To put this into perspective, you have to realize that I had previously (when he was gaining weight) been giving him the 'all you can eat' one and a half potato, so I knew 1/4 small potato given far less frequently would still represent a major reduction.

Someone mentioned exercise earlier. I didn't address that at the time. Although I knew he needed more exercise, I wasn't able to provide it at the time. More exercise for him, meant more for me, and while I needed it, too, it just wasn't feasible at the time. However, in recent months I have finally managed to increase his exercise in 2 ways. I've been able to find the time and energy to play with him and get him running back and forth around the house for an hour or so each morning. In addition, I started a much needed walking program. We don't go very far yet, about a block so far, but I figure we both need to work our way into this slowly. As it is, I usually have to 'drag' him part of the way home. (I don't really drag him, of course, but I do have give him a gentle tug now and then, as he starts wanting to slow down and even stop.)

To review, Widget is doing well, running and play, getting more exercise, and staying on his diet fairly well. He has lost 1.75lbs since I 1st weighed him (on my scale) in July. I'm especially happy to be able to say that we have sustained this loss w/o resorting to extreme or unrealistic measures. The diet that is working for him is one we can easily maintain for the long haul. :-)
katiebear
mulege
Mexico

February 19, 2013
10:15 AM

Post #9424387

Sounds like you and Wiget are both doing well. Good to hear the news. katie

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2013
1:40 PM

Post #9424590

Thanks, katie!

I'm happy. Happy to see that he is just 1/4lb from his initial goal now. Happier still to see him running and playing again. Before he lost some weight, he wouldn't play anymore. At the time, I just figured he was getting past the playing age. Now I realize it was the extra weight. I happy to see him getting back to a healthy weight. Thanks again.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 5, 2013
11:31 AM

Post #9439652

Nice update! I'm glad to hear both you & Widget have more energy for play again. You're going to have a fun spring with him!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

March 6, 2013
12:49 AM

Post #9440289

Thanks, critter!

Before the weight gain, Widget always had what I referred to as ADHD level energy, like he never outgrew the puppy stage even as late as 6yrs. Now he is back to his prior level of energy, running endlessly from room to room following me & chasing Kitty any time she will accommodate him by running. Then he follows along at my heels poking me in the ankle with one of his stuffed animals, his way of asking me to play a round - or 10,000 - of fetch. Seeing the extent to which weight gain sapped his energy and slowed him down has been quite illuminating for me.

Thanks, again. Just hope I have the energy to keep up with him - maybe 1/4 the time.

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