The Fat Labrador Weight Loss Diary
Maxo used to be a fat Labrador! However in less than 6 months he successfully lost 16 kg (35 lbs.) in body weight, completely transforming his life for the better. Here is his weight loss story. Use it to inspire a healthy weight makeover, to transform your fat Labrador into a fit Labrador!
Diet Tip: Successful dog weight loss is achievable no matter how overweight your dog. The sooner you start, the sooner your dog can enjoy the many benefits of being a healthy weight.
The arrival of our fat Labrador Retriever!
Maxo the fat Labrador arrives!
The excitement has been building and finally the day has come, for the arrival of Maxo!
“Wow, he’s big Mum!” and “Bear, Bear!” exclaim the kids. They’re not wrong. Maxo, the fat Labrador is even more overweight than his pet profile pic suggested!
From the moment we meet, it is clear this gorgeous lump-of-a-dog is going to fit in just fine! With his wagging tail, huge grin and with his body-a-wobble, Maxo greets us as though an age-old friend.
It’s a quick trip to his new home, once we manage to get him into the car! Despite our encouragement, Maxo does not even attempt to lift his front legs. Let alone jump into the car. Such feats are a physical impossibility for this fat Labrador.
So it is left to my husband and I to manoeuvre him into the car without breaking our backs. Not surprisingly, our Labrador weight estimations skyrocket as we attempt to lift him!
Eventually plastered in sweat and dog hair, we head home with two excited children and one very happy Labrador.
After a quiet and settled first night, Maxo has made himself at home. He’s explored the garden and the house and is quite at ease in his new surrounds. I swear he has been ticking off his own personalized Labrador must-have checklist:
Fridge – check
Kitchen access — check
Food bowl — check
Dog food supplies — check
Chicken coop and compost scrap bucket — bonus!
Food throwing toddlers– double bonus for a fat Labrador!
And of course so have we!
Child friendly– tick (he’s the best)
No jumping up on people — tick (although I think he’d love to, if he could)
Dog friendly — tick (can you be too friendly?)
Chicken friendly– still deciding whether our pet chooks are food or friends
Good health — all appears good other than his obesity
We are off to a great start. And tomorrow is a big day with a trip to the vet clinic planned for Maxo’s first weigh in.
The fat Labrador diet begins
Today is the day! It’s the commencement of Maxo’s Fat Labrador Weight Challenge!
So in “biggest loser” style, it is time for Maxo’s first weigh-in. After the effort of lifting him safely in and out of our car, I figure there’s no way I’ll be using the bathroom scales for this task! So off to the veterinary clinic we traipse, in search of some specially designed dog scales. I’m sure this is a routine our family shall become only too familiar with.
Once at the clinic and with a little encouragement, Maxo ambles onto the scales. We watch on with bated breath as the digital display escalates and finally settles on the magic number of 45… A reading of 45 kg or 99 pounds! It is official- this fat Labrador is so overweight he falls into the clinically obese category!
Maxo is not a particularly big framed lab. He stands at 57 cm at the shoulder which is similar to the height of the average female Labrador retriever. Based on his height we calculate his ideal dog weight to be in the range of 28-30 kgs (61-66 lbs).
This means Maxo needs to lose nearly 38% of his total body weight. Or to look at it another way- Maxo weighs 50% above his ideal dog weight!
These calculations are engrossing, right? So much so, that I am oblivious to the fact that my 3 year old son has located a basket of pig ear chews. Lincoln has proceeded to run around the vet waiting room holding two chews to the sides of his head, pretending to be a pig!
I may be distracted from my ‘performing piggy’ but Maxo is not! He has been drooling and watching intently and spies his opportunity as my son drops an ear to the floor. My arm is wrenched by the leash, as Maxo excitedly pounces upon the ear. With an excited snort and spittle flying, Maxo devours the pig ear in 4 seconds flat.
WOW, THIS LABRADOR SURE CAN EAT! Having just devoured 250 unplanned calories in under 4 seconds! There’s no mistaking, the fat Labrador weight challenge has definitely begun. I’ll have to up my game with this lab!
Overweight Labrador weight loss mission on track
Progress Update: We are now one month into our fat Labrador weight loss mission and there has been great news all round! Maxo has taken to his new home, new diet and new activity plan like a duck to water.
At his recent weigh-in Maxo had lost a total of 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs) in 4 weeks, putting him right on track to achieve his target weight of 30 kg by Christmas.
Averaging 950 grams per week (2.1 % of his body weight), Maxo is perfectly positioned within the guided overweight Labrador weight loss range (1-3% of starting body weight per week).
So how have we achieved these Labrador weight loss results?
Step 1: Organize a vet check-up for your overweight Labrador
You know the advice “Please see you doctor before starting this weight loss program”? Well the same applies for dogs. A veterinary check-up was our starting point for Maxo’s weight loss mission. This involved a general health check and a blood profile.
These vet health checks are recommended because approximately 5% of overweight dogs have a predisposing medical cause such as overactive adrenal glands (hyperadrenocortism) and under active thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Excess dog weight also predisposes to conditions such as heart disease, joint disease and diabetes. Veterinary checks for conditions such as these will enable any underlying conditions to be effectively managed so that optimal weight can be achieved.
Fortunately for us, Maxo receives a clean bill of health on his blood test results.
Step 2- Find a suitable diet food for your fat Labrador.
Dog weight gain comes down to a simple equation; if calorie intake is greater than calorie output, weight is gained.
This equation had obviously been in action for quite while with out fat labrador. So to limit Maxo’s calorie intake, a calorie-restricted obesity management food was selected.
Specialized diet food for dogs should be low in fat and calories, high in protein (to help dogs to feel full longer and maintain muscle mass). This food must be portioned to meet the daily calorie needs and allowance for your dog’s healthy weight. Maxo’s daily food ration is pre-measured every day and split between his breakfast and dinner.
Due to our busy lifestyle our personal preference is to feed dry dog food or kibble. From a practical point of view I find that dry food is less messy, easier to measure and easier to store. However tinned/wet food and nutritionally balanced homemade dog food is also suitable for weight management. Learn more about dog diet food here.
And treats you ask? Well we’ve taken the “no treat” approach. You may think this is a little harsh but I beg to differ. Instead of using food as positive form of attention I find it’s far more engaging for dogs if they receive plenty of pats, play and belly rubs.
Yes ALL dogs love treats but they also LOVE our attention! The fast fix of a treat is soon forgotten whereas engaged play and our attention has a longer lasting positive experience.
I must admit, our “no treat” approach has been relatively easy compared to what it would be in most households. With our fat Labrador arriving to a clean slate; a household where there are no pre-set treat feeding habits.
If your dog depends on treats, there are several tactics you can employ to reduce the number of treats you feed. Check them out here.
Step 3: Restricted exercise levels suitable for a fat Labrador
Why restricted you ask? Well in addition to lacking stamina, overweight and obese dogs are prone to joint injuries and heat stress when exercising. Being a fat Labrador, Maxo is especially prone to heat stress and he tires very quickly.
Because of our hot climate, we walk Maxo early in the morning and late in the evening and try to incorporate a cooling dip in the local creek whenever we get the chance. Heaven for an overweight Labrador living in a hot climate!
Currently Maxo averages 2 x 20 minute sessions of lead walking or swimming per day. As his fitness improves and his weight drops these sessions will gradually increase in time and intensity. See more about exercising overweight dogs.
So there you have it. Maxo is losing weight due to a lifestyle makeover!
And the funny thing is, we are also reaping the rewards. I had forgotten just how good it feels to end the day taking your dog for a walk. I absolutely love our new “Maxo family outings”; quality time when the day’s stresses can melt away and we all get to enjoy the great outdoors together.
Halfway towards our fat Labrador weight loss goal!
It is official we are on the home straight! Maxo has passed the halfway mark in his Labrador weight loss journey. Well done Maxo! He has now lost 8.3 kilograms (18 lbs) out of his targeted 15 kg (33 lbs) loss.
And what a difference this has has made. Gone is our lethargic bear of a Labrador and in his place is an alert, active and shapelier version.
Here are just a few weight loss benefits we’ve observed in Maxo so far:
– No more sleep apnea (yes this is a fat Labrador issue!)
– Reduced snoring
– Reduced inflammation and itchiness of his skin
– Increased energy
– Increased alertness
– Less panting
– Improved stamina- Maxo enjoys going on longer walks
– Better mobility- Maxo finds it easier to get up from rest and now climbs stairs with ease
– And best of all, Maxo has started to jump into the car by himself (thank goodness!)
Maxo is a very willing participant. We couldn’t ask for better. He’s taken to his diet food with relish and is super keen for his twice daily outings. Swimming is a regular favorite, as are off-leash romps with his friends down at the local creek.
Sure, we still get the doe eyed and pleading puppy eye looks whenever there is food around and yes we do need to keep an eye out for his opportunist food seeking behavior (especially around the kids!). But this is just part and parcel of having a Labrador in the family. And it is up to us as his owners to stand firm and do our best for him by not giving in. It turns out that a good old belly rub and a bit of fuss is ten times more rewarding than being fed a treat anyway!
Maxo’s fat Labrador to fit Labrador transformation is a great experience for the whole family. And seeing just how far Maxo has come further motivates us in helping him lose his final 7 kilos to attain his target weight of 30 kg.
Let the journey continue!
Almost there! Maxo tries not to look too smug about his fat labrador weight loss achievement!
The mystery of Maxo’s stalled Labrador weight loss
The countdown to Maxo’s first tropical Christmas has begun. And with his move to the tropics our fat Labrador has discovered that there is a very tasty pay-off to the heat and humidity of this time of year… the mango season!
All that was required for this discovery was an afternoon amble with one of his canine companions where Maxo observed his friend sniff out and devour a fallen mango. Up until this point Maxo had paid no attention to mangoes at all, but now armed with this tacit piece of doggy knowledge, Maxo has realized his own backyard bounty of mangoes on offer.
It seems that at first Maxo’s mango snacking occurred as a midnight feast, with Maxo clearing up mangoes dropped by nocturnal fruit bats. Other than making the occasional remark “Maxo your tummy looks a little more bloated than usual” we’ve remained blissfully unaware of Maxo’s fruit snacking past time.
But as it turned out, we were not imagining things. In the following days Maxo’s desire for mango increased and his snacking extended into daylight hours. Showing off the fruits of his labor, Maxo would carry his mangoes to us and quickly devour them skin and all leaving behind a well denuded seed.
I know mangoes are not the typical food to feed a dieting Labrador yet I wasn’t overly concerned. I mean, how fattening can the occasional mango be?
Well it turns out, if you eat enough of them they can be very fattening indeed. Especially for a fat Labrador trying to lose weight!
Following on from Maxo’s most successful week of Labrador weight loss (1 kilogram/ 2.2lb. loss), my husband and I were gob smacked to discover that Maxo lost absolutely nothing in his subsequent week. Nought, zilch, not one single gram!
So it turns out mangoes aren’t so innocent after all, especially when you consider the whoppers our mango tree dropped. Each mango alone can weigh up to 500 grams. A little research on my behalf revealing mangoes have a calorie count of 60 kcal/100 gram of mango flesh. So in effect each mango eaten by our Labrador equated to about 250 kcal consumed.
Which meant Maxo was more than doubling his daily calorie consumption through fruit alone!
Let Maxo’s mango madness be a timely reminder of just how important it is to account for every possible food source our dogs have access to. Mangoes prove that there is no such thing as ‘calorie free’ food. So remember, everything that passes our dogs lips, contributes to their daily calorie tally.
Fortunately for us the mango tree has finished fruiting and we expect Maxo’s weight loss journey to continue on schedule in time for Christmas. Maxo has done so well with his fat Labrador weight loss program and is now honing in towards his target weight.
But there may be trouble on the horizon as I have recently spied some ripening passion fruit and banana in the garden and wonder how long it will be before Maxo is ready to develop his tropical fruit palate further!
Fat Labrador to fit Labrador transformation is complete!
Maxo has officially done it! He has achieved his healthy target weight!! We can confidently say our fat Labrador has successfully morphed into a fit Labrador!
Weighing in at 29.5 kg Maxo has transformed from an obese Labrador into Maxo the Superdog! Maxo can run, jump, swim and play- with energy to spare. No longer satisfied with tagging along behind his doggy friends, Maxo keeps up with the best of them and can now outrun many. Who would have thought?
Instead of lardy, he is lean. Instead of fatigued, he is fit. And instead of tubby, he is terrific. Maxo has completely transformed!
So much so that visitors often think he is a different dog!
Having lost 15.5 kg since September, Maxo is barely recognizable and looks so much younger. His energy levels have sky rocketed and finally he is living a life befitting of a three year old Labrador!
A life full of energy and play.