Fat Labs are not funny.
I cringe whenever a prior client sends me a photo of a pup they acquired from me and brags that “he is so spoiled…he gets to lay on the couch all day and eat my home-made dog biscuits.”
My first thought is, “Ok, this dog is obese, is probably getting little to no exercise and is loading up on carbs in those little cookies all day long.” Then I sigh as I gaze the photo of a chubby Labrador.
Then I worry about not only their health, but the stress that this is putting on their joints—undue wear and tear that will shorten their life span because of early onset arthritis.
Not only will a slim Lab have a better level of fitness and a lower likelihood of becoming unwell, they will in all probability live longer too. And if you are like me, one of the most heartbreaking things about pet ownership is that they never life long enough—right?
Purina PetCare carried out a lifetime study on 48 Labradors, where they were divided into two categories, one of which was given 25% more food than the other.
Those Labs on the large food ration had a median lifespan of over 11 years old. Those on the smaller food ration lived to be over 13 years old.
When you look at the difference which can be made in these terms, by helping your Lab to stay slim you could be giving him an incredible two to four more years with you! If you feed a raw, species-appropriate diet, you can expect your Lab to make it into their twenties, like many Europeans do who feed a raw/paleo diet.
So, if you are going to help your Lab to lose weight let’s have a look at the best way to go about it.
First of all, if your dog is under 24 mos, 20 minutes of moderate play, every day, is best. You don’t want to over-exercise during this crucial time when the growth plates are still forming
Secondly, get your Lab on a Weight Loss food that is of high quality and is high in lean proteins and is not overloaded with starches/carbs.
Third, if your Lab is over 24 months, you can increase that exercise to 30 minutes, but again, not a lot of leaping and lunging. That makes wear and tear on humans hips and knees—so be kind to your Lab as well. A nice leisurely walk with you can be the perfect fix.
To start, you can also lower the amount you are feeding by ¼-1 cup a day on the current food. You want to mix in your new Weight Management kibble little by little to transition over to the new food. Once you are fully transferred, keep the dog on this food until you’ve achieved your weight loss goal—your dog’s breeder or your vet can help assist you in this.
And remember—doing this for you Lab can have benefits for you too! Why not joint him on that half hour walk? You may just find that you BOTH benefit! –Liv Sterling, breeder.