Your Questions About Bichon Maltese Mix Weight
How can I help my dog lose weight?
She was on a high dose of Prednisone for several weeks and has gained some weight because of it. She was about 14lb before (a bit overweight already because she was on the pred. for her allergies before she got IVDD) and now she’s almost 16lb. She is a 3-year-old maltese/bichon mix so I reckon she should be 12-13lbs? She gets about a cup of EVO chicken/turkey everyday but is usually pretty hungry all the time because of the pred. so my dad gives her treats a lot. I have been walking her round the block every other day as well..the thing is that her hind legs are pretty weak because of the IVDD so I dont want to strain her. What else can I do to help her lose some weight?
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Sarah Jones answers:
Portion control is paramount. You must restrict her calorie intake. EVO is very high in calories, one of the top 3 highest calorie dry foods out there. She’s going to have increased hunger and thirst on steroids, no matter if you feed her more or not. She cannot get treats or more dog food just because she’s hungry, begging or demanding food.
While speaking of steroids, have you discussed the use of NON-steroidal anti-inflammatories with your vet? Long term use of corticosteroids is damaging to the liver and the adrenal glands. We can induce liver disease and Cushing’s disease (decreased adrenal secretion of cortisol) by administering prednisone or prednisolone.
A maltese can safely be on Rimadyl 25 mg daily or a 15# dose of Metacam daily. These pose much less risk to the liver, slight potential risk to renal function over long term use, and rare GI side effects, compared to the hunger, thirst, urination, liver, and adrenal side effects of steroids.
With IVDD, intervertebral disc disease, the more excess weight carried the more pain she will experience in her back and neck. She may have arthritis in her stifles and elbows by now also, with such sudden extreme weight gain. An excess of 4 lbs. To a maltese her size is at least 30% overweight, which is obesity. She is also at risk for diabetes mellitus.
Decrease her calorie intake to approximately 250 kcals. This would be best as canned, or meat-source protein added to canned or dry. A 1/5 cup of the EVO you already have, or a 3 oz can, or 1/2 of 6 oz can, or 1/4 of 13 oz can, added to 2-3 oz. Of lean chicken, beef, or turkey, fed twice daily. Do not freely feed her. Do not give her treats. Emphasize her pain and risk to her health when you are requesting your family adhere to her strict diet and calorie intake.
You do not want to exercise her excessively. Short activity periods, multiple times daily, is effective activity. 15 minutes of steady paced walking 4-5 times daily will increase her mobility and joint lubrication without overburdening and stressing any arthritis or intervertebral swelling/nerve impingement. Underwater treadmill therapy at a rehabilitative clinic would greatly benefit her overall body condition also.
Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial to her joints, but not her vertebra. It can only help and not harm to add high concentration omega fatty acids to her diet, in the form of fish oil or a combo of fish and flax/borage oils. Gelcap form, consisting of at least 100 mg DHA and 125 mg EPA is beneficial to cellular regeneration and anti-inflammation, thus joints, heart, skin, and immunity improve.
But, ideal body condition is the most important factor for back, neck, or joint pain. Losing weight is more beneficial and helpful to her than any steroid or NSAID. Track her weight loss by going to the vet office every 3-4 weeks, and ask them to weigh her on the small/cat scale. Go now, then again periodically and adjust her diet if her weight loss trend plateaus or slows.
Carrots, rice cakes, apples, green beans and low calorie dog treats (kcal listed as 3-5 kcal/treat) can be given while working on weight loss, but be careful to ensure she doesn’t ingest excess carbohydrates. Less than 25% (less than 1/5 cup) of her diet should consist of the non-meat, non-dog food treats/additions. Her GI tract can develop excess carb digesting enzymes (amylase, sucrase) and deficient protein and fat digesting enzymes (protease, lipase) when you feed too many carbs; which can lead to her inability to digest protein and fat, and GI imbalance (vomit, diarrhea).
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