Well, we are still around in 2013, despite being absent for a week. Today we are back, and participating in the Show Off Your Dog's Waistline Campaign. I am pretty proud of the amazing shape my dogs are in, and think that this is a major issue. So many people think my dogs are too skinny, while they hold on to the leash of a dog who could probably stand to lose 10+ pounds. So many vets don't tell owners when their pets are overweight, or downplay it if they do. I always make a point to ask my vet twice about my dogs' weight. The first time, I ask if their weight is good. She always says yes. Then, I say, "My dogs compete in dog sports, including a lot of running, jumping, twisting, turning, and physical activity. How is their weight for that?". Sometimes, the answer is the same, that they are at a good weight. But, I've had her suggest taking off as much at 5 pounds from the dog she just said a minute ago had great weight! Being athletes changes things, but shouldn't all dogs be kept at the weight that best keeps them safe while running, jumping, and being active?
For a great, short read about dog weight, I will refer you to one of my favorite sports vets and writers, Dr. Zink. Her article Corpulent Canines is a great easy to read article about the weight we keep our dogs at, in sports and in conformation, and how those may affect the dogs.
Here are my dogs. Pallo, as a corgi mix, has a naturally stockier build than many dogs. His bones are thick, his skin is thick, and while he is technically short haired, he has plenty of fur on there too.
From the side, Pallo has a very obvious tuck up behind the ribs. His ribs are not visible, but can be easily felt. His shoulders, back, and rear are well muscled and defined.
From the top, Pallo has only a slight waist. His hips are obviously wider, but he doesn't have a big dip in. His spine is not sticking out, and his ribs are not visible. This is appropriate for a dog of his coat and build.
Koira is leaner and more muscular in build. Her bones are thinner, her skin is thinner, and her coat is near non existent. Yes, if a lab looked like this, it would be severely underweight. For Koira, this is perfect weight. I might even try to put a bit more muscle on her.
From the side, Koira has a defined tuck up. (It was cold outside when we took the pictures, so she was hunching a little bit from cold.) Most of her ribs are slightly visible. Her muscles are outlined and defined, though she could use some additional muscle definition. Tendons are visible stretching across the outside of her ribs.
From the top, Koira has a visible waist. Her ribs are visible, but not sticking out (I will say again, though, that she was cold, so her ribs are a bit more sticky-out than they would otherwise be). Her spine is visible but not protruding. Her muscles are well defined. For a dog of her coat and build, this is an appropriate active weight.
To keep my dogs in this condition, I do a lot of things. We go out for a few hours at a time at least three times per week. We go to flyball practice at least once a week. Swimming, dock diving, lure coursing, skijoring, disc, hiking, and general off leash play are all part of our physical routine.
I feed my dogs accordingly for the amount of exercise they are getting. Spending a full weekend at a flyball tournament? The dogs get extra helpings of nutrient and calorie dense hearts, as well as additional snacks like dried meat jerky and raw or hard boiled eggs, on top of their regular raw meals. Spending a week sitting at home while I'm working a lot? The dogs will get just the base raw meals, with a balance of meat, organ, and bone.
The most important thing to make this work is that I look at and feel my dogs on a regular basis. I make sure they are in good muscle condition and that they are not gaining too much fat. Relying on a scale for my dogs is tricky, because my dogs can gain a lot of poundage in muscle if we are doing some really active training and conditioning. Three pounds gain of fat would be bad, but a three pound gain in muscle (or more) has happened more than once with these guys, and I would certainly not want to cut back their food because of the number on the scale!
The best example I can give of this is that, when I adopted Pallo, he weighed in at the vet at just over 25 pounds. He had no waist and was visibly chubby. He was around 9 months old then. He has since lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle. Pallo is the same height (within an inch) as when I adopted him, but now weighs 37 pounds of healthy muscle!
So, anyone else have some dog waists to share?