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Well now... Guess Who's On A Diet?...

January 16, 2010 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode

(Mazey says she hopes Jenny Craig doesn't resemble a Milkbone or she may have to plead the 5th...) 

I took Mazey to the vet this weekend for a senior check-up.  The vet ended up putting ALL of us on a diet …  I know Mazey (and I) have several extra pounds to lose. I also know that if I can get that extra weight off of her it will do her health a world of good. It will help ease the stress on her old arthritic joints making it easier for her to get up and down and simply walk around. It will also help avoid diseases such as diabetes and heart disease which is very common in overweight dogs (just like humans).

Because Mazey is a rescue girl, I don’t have a lot of history on her, including her true age. We guess her to be somewhere around 12+.  She was not socialized when I adopted her two years ago and she’s yet to learn to play with a dog toy, however I was able to get her to venture out into the neighborhood on walks as long as I took my other Golden Jesse along. Jesse showed her the ropes of how to be a normal dog for the most part. When Jesse passed away in early 2008 Mazey lost her mentor. And, she refused to go any more walks.

The vet reassured me that at this point exercise (while important to any overall healthy lifestyle) was not a factor that we had to focus on. We had to focus on “calories in – calories out”.  I was to start reducing the amount of food I gave Mazey each day. The eyeballs popping out from my sockets must have alerted him that I was a bit… stunned. 

“And, if Mazey is used to a biscuit or treat after potty, give her a frozen green  bean, carrot, cucumber or celery stick”, the vet said. 

By this time I know my chin was on the floor so he paused a moment and patted his own belly, “Hey, she isn’t going to be the happiest camper for a while, I know I wouldn’t be, if she’s used to getting all those treats and food, she’s going to feel a bit hungry while her stomach adjusts, just like our does. But it will make a world of difference in how she feels if we can get this weight off of her.”

I started having visions of me eating all my meals out in the car, sneaking food outside where she couldn’t see me, eating before I got home... There was no I was going to be able to eat in front of poor Mazey after reducing the amount of her food and offering a frozen green bean as a treat. This just didn’t sound promising. But, again, I know that by over-feeding her, I was basically killing her with kindness. Every additional pound I was helping her put on was taking years off of her life.

Think about this, according to the American Verterinary Medical Association (AVMA) giving a dog or cat one potato chip may not seem like an extravagant snack, but it's equivalent to giving an adult human half a cheeseburger or half a candy bar. And giving your cat an ounce of milk is equivalent to eating four and a half cheeseburgers. Giving your pet pooch one hot dog is equivalent to you eating two cheeseburgers. Needless to say, giving a pet table scraps is a sure ticket to pet obesity.

A healthy dog, is a happy dog. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about  how much to feed your pet --  depending on age, health, level of activity, etc. They can also help you discover healthy alternatives for reward treats and simple tips to keep your pet feeling great.

The AVMA has partnered with Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. to combat obesity by sponsoring the Alliance for Healthier Pets - Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program. The initiative's primary goal is to educate the public on how to recognize obesity and to suggest simple solutions. Visit to see examples of how common pet treats translate into major calories. Watch as personal trainer Gunnar Petersen teaches pet owners how to exercise with their pets and then take the "Pet Fit" Challenge.

For more information about
animal health, visit and visit for an informative video about pet obesity.

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