I have a 4 y/o rottie who has, up until now, been at a perfect weight. We moved in May to North Georgia from Charleston, SC. N. Ga is mountainous--to say the least. There aren't really any paved trails, no sidewalks, and walking the mountains is a killer. Plus, new jobs for hubby and I make it nearly impossible to get her out for walks. Previously, we had been going on two 1 hour walks per day.
Dog is allergic to EVERYTHING. The list is as follows: corn, chicken, turkey, wheat, soy, dairy, green peas, brewers yeast, peanuts, kelp. Because of the allergies, changing her dog food might be difficult. She is currently on free choice Solid Gold Millennia (swapped with Solid Gold Wolf King every few months).
We feed the free choice b/c we have 2 dogs and 2 young babies. The dogs don't seem to have any food aggression issues and I'd like to keep it that way. Having food available to them at all times seems to help keep everyone mellow about food.
I had heard of feeding canned green beans, but was concerned with the allergies that perhaps they were too closely related to peas/peanuts? I don't want to deal with another outbreak...
Any other suggestions to help her drop a few? I know exercise would nip the problem in the bud, but sadly that's not on the agenda for now. We do have a 1 acre fenced yard, but the porky little puppy just lies under the porch.
If a dog has weight problems, the free feed would be the first thing to go. I have 2 dogs with very different weight issues. The allergy boy is always hard to keep weight on as he has always hate the hypo foods and he is fussy as all get out! The pit is chubby. I do feed 2x a day period. I used to free feed, but the allergy dog simply wouldn't eat much, he hates stale food, prefers a "fresh" bag, so I started feeding him so I could manage what he eats and how much.
Since I switched to Orijen, he looks better than ever. Carries good weight, skin is amazing, I can't remember the last time I saw him scratch.. I also have to feed less which is great too. Of course the Pit doesn't think so as I have cut back her quantity again. I AM trying to lessen the calories she takes in and (oddly) trying to keep her hungry enough to keep her food motivated when she is out for a walk or playing off leash or at the barn.
If the pit was free fed, she would eat until her head popped off.
I like to believe that if a dog is too fat it is eating too much for the exercise it is or isn't getting. My dogs have very different exercise requirements and I have to be conscious of that, though I find that challenging.
I don't have food aggression issues at my house. I feed them in order of who is the dominant and who is the submissive. The submissive is the pit so she eats gets her bowl after he is fed and she sits respectably while he eats once she is done her food. She is respectful and he demands respect. It has worked well for me.
I'd ditch the free choice as well and start The Fatty on the carrot diet. 2 ways to go about this.
Method #1. Buy a giant bag of carrots, chop them all up into 1" coins and keep them in a bowl near the dog feeding station. At meal time (2xday, am and pm), put <1/2 cup kibbles in the bowl and 6-8 carrot slices. Add a little water and feed.
Method #2. Same giant bag of carrots. Cook them all till soft. Whizz them and their cooking water in the Cuisinart/blender. At meal time, put <1/2 cup kibbles in dog dish, add 2-3 tablespoons of carrot mush, a bit of water, stir and serve.
Serve carrot coins as treats-no more table scraps, biscuits, chunks of salami and only feed 2 meals a day. You'll see the weight fall off. Once it has, keep to the 2xday meal plan and add back a few kibbles at a time, losing the carrots as fillers. Continue using carrots as treats forever.
I too would strongly recommend set feed amounts and feeding schedules...and separate everyone. This has several bonuses:
1) You can control how much each dog eats.
2) You can control WHAT each dog eats. If they're on the same food now, this may seem silly, but as dogs age or their needs change they may need to be on different foods.
3) Going off food is one of the first symptoms we see when a dog is ill. feeding free choice lessens your ability to note this key symptom. sometimes, it's all you've got to go on initially.
Obviously...calories in has to be less than energy expended to lose weight. So reducing the calories in plus more exercise would be ideal.
Something higher in fiber would be more filler but less calories.
Raw potatoes and carrots or green beans make good treats. No more regular people food or dog treats.
It's harder on you than the dog really....but in the long run, it's really best for them to be at a good weight--especially the large breeds.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Agree with everyone else...get rid of the free feeding...too many reasons why it isn't such a good idea (BuddyRoo listed some very good ones). Of course, this is coming from someone who does free feed....buuuutttt, my dog and I have been around the bend on her eating habits, she's an only dog, and I don't worry about her being too heavy.
I also think finding some way of getting her back exercising is the biggest thing, as it seems to be the factor that changed, causing the weight gain. If you can't walk her as much, do you have time for structured, supervised, human led play in that great big yard? Does she just lay under the porch when turned loose on her own, or is she like my dog and finds playing ball beneath her? One of the families I house sit for has a "Chuck It" and a great big yard. The dogs and a human go out for a few minutes a few times a day, and throw the ball around. 15-20 minutes of that 2 or 3 times a day keeps their dogs pretty slim (and no free feeding), the dogs LOVE it, and it is the quickest way to get them good and worn out. They do walk some, too, but the majority of their exercise comes from playing ball.