An overweight Dogue de Bordeaux is nothing to minimize. Obesity is one of the leading health problems for dogs today. Non-coincidentally, the same is true of one-third of Americans. Culprits include improper diet and a sedentary lifestyle. The two statistics are very much linked. Why? If our dog owners are leading inactive lives, our dogs are also. And we all know obesity occurs when more calories are consumed than are burned.
The health conditions associated with dog obesity include:
Cancerous tumors, and more.
Obviously, these conditions negatively impact the quality of life and longevity of our beloved canines. In fact, studies have proven that dogs who maintain an ideal body weight live as much as two years longer than their overweight counterparts. That’s precious time, especially for Dogues de Bordeaux who live relatively short lives as it is.
Unfortunately, a lot of folks are in denial about the state of their dogs’ upholstery. Because the Dogue de Bordeaux is a bulky, meaty breed by nature, it may be difficult for owners to tell the difference between a “big-boned” Bordeaux and fat Bordeaux.
Assess your dog’s Body Condition Score (BCS) regularly. The BCS is a nine point system ranging from 1/9 (emaciated) to 9/9 (grossly obese). Therefore, a healthy Dogue de Bordeaux should score 4/9 or 5/9. To get an idea of your Dogue’s score, feel his ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs along the chest easily. When looking down at the dog’s back you should observe a slight hourglass shaped waist after the ribs – yes, even on a Dogue de Bordeaux! At Hooch’s next checkup ask the vet for their opinion on his BCS.
If Hooch does need to shed a few pounds, his diet will need to be adjusted. A couple things are very important to being successful:
Know your dog’s ideal weight. If you aren’t sure, ask the breeder, or your vet. Additionally, know what your Dogue’s ideal daily caloric need is. If you do an internet search for “dog daily calorie calculator” you can easily find out how many calories your dog needs for his activity level. For example, a 120 lb DDB who is less active requires 2119 kcal/day. Now all you have to do is find out how many calories are in one cup of your DDB’s food. Portion out the calories throughout the day accordingly. Note, the caloric need of your Dogue de Bordeaux will vary with different life stages.
To get a very rough estimate of how much to feed, look at the BCS. If the DDB scores high then typically healthy weight loss can be achieved by feeding 80% of his current intake to achieve a gradual weight loss of 1-2% of body weight per week. This decrease in food will probably mean extra begging at the dinner table. Be strong, don’t give in! You are doing this for his own good.
CHECK THE LABELS
All dog food is NOT made equal. (If you haven’t noticed, I stress this a lot in my blogs) You must be careful about drastically decreasing your pet’s meals if you are not feeding a quality kibble. Sub-par products use carbs in place of meat as fillers to achieve calories. There is a risk that feeding maintenance diets during the weight loss phase will not provide all the nutrition your dog needs. Be sure you chose a kibble above average in protein and below average in calories and fat.
Do not free feed. Have your dog on a schedule of 2 or more meals per day. Measuring out each meal so as not to exceed daily caloric need will be extremely important.
REWARD WITH FUN NOT FOOD
No extra treats/table scraps. If you do treat, calculate that into the daily calorie intake. Alternatively, reward with play, or a satisfying belly rub.
Exercise! It’s fun, dog’s love it, and it’s the key to getting Hooch in shape! Even seemingly lazy Dogues de Bordeaux want to go outside for a walk. Take them! Incorporating regular exercise into the daily regimen will make the weight loss program much more effective.
Do not force your Dogue de Bordeaux to run or jog for any length of time.These are high impact exercises which any Dogue de Bordeaux (overweight or not) doesn’t need to be doing due to the bone/joint issues the breed is prone to. Opt for stimulating power walks. 15-20 minutes at a time, 2 – 3 times per day would be ideal. ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WHEN EXERCISING YOUR BORDEAUX IN THE SUMMER MONTHS!!
Think of fun games to play that gets your DDB panting. Fetch, frisbee, soccer, catch, chase the water hose. Dogues de Bordeaux love water. Swimming is a superb exercise simultaneously limiting stress on joints.
MARATHON NOT A SPRINT
Don’t expect a miracle overnight. Slimming down an overweight Dogue de Bordeaux to a healthy size can take 6 – 8 months. It is extremely worthwhile if you can add even one day to the life of your Dogue de Bordeaux.