Publisher’s ink: Read dog food labels carefully when dieting

By From page A5 | October 10, 2012

Since gaining weight I’ve been more inclined to reading the labels on the back of cans. Knowing the ingredients helps reduce those unwanted and unsightly pounds. On one particular can I found it included fish broth, peas, spinach and sunflower oil. All these appeared to be healthy foodstuffs — for a dog.

Ollie, our “not so” miniature pinscher, has been in the family now for about four years. He’s what you’d call a rescue. He was rescued by our oldest daughter, who at the time was attending college in Chattanooga, Tenn. We then rescued him from our daughter because she was moving on to grad school in Chicago.

Living in a studio apartment with limited access to exercise wasn’t my idea of a healthy lifestyle for a dog. Those small confines might work for a young college student, but not for Ollie.

We realized he had some quirky psychological issues when we brought him home. What dog wouldn’t that’s been abandoned by three previous owners? Or chained outside to a porch? Perhaps he eats like a glutton because he’s afraid it’s his last meal or it could simply be a case of low self-esteem.

Since Ollie’s been in our care we’ve seen some rather nice improvements in his behavior. For example, he no longer urinates when I reach down to pick him up. And he no longer walks in my wife’s shadow just as he did around our daughter — a clear sign of separation anxiety.

During a recent weigh-in at the veterinarian’s office I soon discovered why our 18.8-pound miniature pinscher draws more than a few occasional stares when he walks, or should I say wobbles, down the street.

“He’s carrying too much weight on those four skinny legs,” the vet informed me.

By golly, she was right. Those are skinny legs. And that body I can’t wrap my hands around is actually being supported by those 3-inch-high toothpicks.

Since that visit we’ve been on a strict diet and rigorous exercise program. And as his personal trainer I’m committed to whipping him back into shape.

We started with his diet. His vet recommended just one-quarter can of wet food mixed in with some dry. But the guideline on the can read: Feed approximately ½ can for 10 pounds of body weight per day. Those darn dog food companies. Eating at this rate he’d become a new breed of hippo-dog-imous.

Where’s first lady Michelle Obama when we really need her? Perhaps after she’s finished dictating what kinds of foods our kids should be consuming she could redirect her attention to the diets of dogs and those greedy dog food manufacturers.

Ollie is now on limited food intake. We’ve cut out the snacks, reduced his calorie count and have him exercising more — three walks a day and one hour in the backyard chasing lizards.

It’s amazing just how fast our new routine is working. During a recent power walk we crossed paths with Josie, a white shih tzu. I could tell she wasn’t very impressed with Ollie at first. But after a few friendly and strategic sniffs she was beginning to warm up to him.

“Give it a few more weeks Ollie and you’ll be nothing but canine eye candy to her,” I assured him.

Our goal is to shed at least one pound off him and 10 pounds off me. During his next visit to the vet I want to avoid what my wife asked me when I stepped on the scale at the gym the other day.

“What are you learning by doing that?” she asked, observing me carefully and methodically moving the counter weights back and forth ever so gently.

“I learned the scale we have at home is off by 4 pounds,” I answered. “Ollie and I have a long way to go.”

Richard Esposito is publisher of VIllage Life and the Mountain Democrat.

Richard Esposito


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