So apparently now, even dogs have to worry about bathing suit season.
Not that I’ve caught my dog Riley staring in the mirror with angst over the size of his thighs or anything, but when the vet told me he was a couple of pounds overweight (the dog, not the vet), I felt for him.
“We have to do something about Riley’s weight,” I told my husband. “We don’t want him to feel insecure around thinner dogs.”
Clearly, I have my own weight issues.
Yet, since I am the person who feeds the dog, I felt somehow responsible for his extra poundage. However, I soon realized it wasn’t his meals that were the problem, but rather what he was eating in-between meals.
On many occasions I have caught him helping himself to the kids’ abandoned chicken nuggets at the table. And their mac and cheese. And their hot dogs. Perhaps, I thought, I should change what I’m feeding the kids, ergo, the dog will eat better.
Not that I don’t provide them with healthier fare most of the time. But Riley is just as happy to steal the remains of the grilled chicken, pan-seared snapper and vegetable lasagna I make, as well.
So we started clearing the table right after dinner.
And then I caught him licking the dirty plates out of the dishwasher.
The article went on to say that while cats are more snackers, dogs tend to be binge eaters.
Tell me something I didn’t know.
However, binge eating is not really the issue for Riley. His problem is indiscriminate eating. Does a ball of yarn have a lot of calories? He ate one of those. My son’s collection of rubber insects is now a half collection thanks to Riley. He’s bitten off and ingested most of the limbs of my daughter’s wooden dolls, two legs on the kitchen table and a ½ dozen supposedly indestructible chew toys. Not much fat content in those.
We soon realized that the contents of the house had become a veritable buffet for the dog, so we began cleaning up and closing doors on a regular basis.
If nothing else, the dog has certainly improved my family’s messy habits.
Without the kids’ leftovers, the fallen bits of food on the floor, and the food residue in the dishwasher, we thought we’d nicked the problem. But, alas, he was still tipping the scales.
“Does he get a lot of treats,” asked the vet.
“Well, yeah,” I answered sheepishly. “But in obedience training, they taught us to motivate the dog with food. A treat after he potties. A treat when he sits on command. When he comes. When he stays.” I realized that all the treats were probably adding up to the equivalent of a third meal.
So I checked in with a friend of mine who had taken the class with me about the treat issue.
“Don’t you remember, we’re supposed to wean them off the treats,” she said. No, I didn’t remember. Probably because we didn’t get that far in obedience school before Riley had to drop out for emergency stomach surgery after he ate the aforementioned ball of yarn and developed a bowel obstruction.
So I cut out the treats. He responded by eating my laptop manual. I let him run loose in the backyard three times a day for exercise. He responded by eating rocks from my garden. I took him for runs in the park. He ate mud.
I said to my husband, “He may be too fat for a dog but he is probably just right for a goat.”
Finally I brought him back to the vet and we dumped him on the scale. I held my breath.
“Riley’s weight is down,” she told me. “Good job.”
Yeah, good job for him. But the whole ordeal stressed me out so much that I put on five pounds.