Weight Loss Success!

Elliot

What?!? Did you say “Come put my nose print on the camera?”

Elliot is a typical energetic lovey lab who is certain everyone wants to see him, but he has one small…er….large problem: he is more than 20 lbs overweight!  Well at least that was his problem.  With the aid of Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe, Hill’s Metabolic diet and devoted owners, Elliot is now a svelte man at a nice lean weight a whole 24.5 lbs lighter!

His owner sent us this testimonial:

Elliot before

Elliot before his weight loss

“Thank you for sending those great pics (seen below) of Elliot after losing 20 pounds in about 6 months on the Metabolic diet and treats. He really enjoys the food (but then again Elliot is a lab and is not fussy and loves any and all food). My husband and I are very diligent about adhering to the amounts that Dr. Liebe has recommended.  I also make sure my husband adheres to the 6 treats per day as he was “over-treating before the metabolic diet started”! We could first see a difference within a month and could see his bulkier looking body of 107.9 lbs leaning out. Even though Elliot is a very tall lab this weight was not a healthy one. You could see he is much more comfortable at his new ideal weight being he has hip dysplasia from birth and now (he is almost 8 yrs old) has arthritis in his hips and knees. He has more energy and his mobility was much much improved even after losing the first 10 lbs. He appears to have less issues on getting up from a lying to sitting position and when he gets a treat he actually is jumping up on his back legs with front legs pawing high into the air. He resembles Black Beauty in those old shows!  It brought tears to our eyes as we haven’t seen him do that in a long time!  He is presently at his goal weight of 83.4 pounds and has a handsome hour glass figure. We are continuing with the Metabolic diet and Dr. Liebe has increased the amount per feed to 1 3/4 cup (two times daily) and we are having his weight checked regularly to make sure this ideal weight is maintained.

Elliot after - what a lovely lean body!

Elliot after – what a lovely lean body!

I have attached a pic taken before starting his diet at 107.9 lbs (seen above).

Thank you Dr Liebe, for recommending such an effective method of weight loss for our big boy, Elliot, and Elliot thanks you too as he’s much more comfortable.”

We are so happy for Elliot and his family on their success.  The lighter body means less stress on his joints making many things easier for him to do and over time it will keep him moving easier as he ages.

Getting a pet to loss weight can be tough, but we know that in the long run the devotion to feeding less at meals, giving less treats and increasing activity can be a great preventative method to certain health issues that arise as pets age helping to maintain mobility and even increase your pets life span.

Need help getting started?  Talk to one of our veterinarians or highly trained technicians who can help get you going on the path to a successful weight loss plan.  We will help you to maintain that plan and help you reach success every step of the way.  In the end your pet will thank you for it!

 

Warm Winter Weather

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Cats-playing-in-snowIn Saskatchewan we are all use to the ups and downs of the climate.  Throughout the winter we can go from -40C to a balmy -2C in the span of a couple days.  The warm weather always perks people up and gets them excited to enjoy it while it lasts.  Lots of people will come out of hiding with their dogs and head out for some great snow fun.

There are, however a few things to take caution with when the weather warms up so quickly:

Surfaces can become very slippery with the sudden increase in temperature.  The quick rise causes ice crystals to form – it’s what gives that beautiful glittery appearance to everything – which can be a big hazard to both you and your pet.  Especially at risk of injuring when slipping are pets that are overweight, older, and not in the best physical health (weakened or decreased muscle mass).   Use care and caution when heading out, check first before allowing your dog to run or chase after a toy.Frisbee in snow

When heading out onto snow packed areas you need to also be cautious, again ice and ice crystals can become a problem.  Surfaces can become jagged and sharp and potentially cause cuts to pads, feet and limbs.  Also the warmth could cause areas that seem densely packed to cave in as the snow underneath becomes warmer.

calico-snow-kitty1Frostbite can still occur in this warm weather when sensitive areas are exposed for too long.

dog_licking_paws

A good plan is simply to check your pet over after any outdoor adventure.  Look at lower limbs, feet, pads and ear tips for any cuts, cracks or discoloured or painful spots.  Keep an eye on your pet after as well.  Dogs tend to lick areas that are sore, which could be an indication of an injury.  Watch if a pet is limping after your fun filled time outside.  If the limp does not improve with rest, contact your veterinarian to be sure no damage has occurred to muscles or tendons.

Always avoid bodies of water when the weather increases so drastically.  It is hard to be certain of how thick and safe the ice may or may not be.  Should your pet end up in a position where they are on unsafe ice.  Do NOT follow them.  Try to encourage them to come to you quickly.  If they do break through the ice, again do NOT try to get to them.  Call 9-1-1 so those who are equipped to deal with these circumstances can aid your pet, getting them to safety.  Once your pet is retrieved, even if they seem fine you should contact your veterinarian immediately.  Hypothermia and frostbite can both occur and if not treated can lead to loss of affected areas of skin or even death.

Dog_on_a_frozen_lake

DO take advantage of the fun and memory making time that can occur when the winter weather is finally nice enough to allow it, especially when we really have no idea how long it will last!

kids snow

Tricks to Keep Your Pets Busy

by: Jennifer Oldfield

The mild weather we had been enjoying has been replaced by a more typical Saskatchewan winter – outrageously cold!  Although there are certainly dog breeds that love the cold and do well to still be exercised outdoors, many can only handle a few moments outside at a time without risking frostbite to feet and ears.  How then do you get enough exercise for your dog to keep them busy and keep you from going crazy with their energy?  Teach them tricks!  Working the mind can just as well tire your dog out as working them physically, making for a much nicer winter experience for everyone.  You can even do tricks with your cat, especially if they are food motivated.  All the concepts below will be referenced to dogs, but the same applies for cats.

clickerTrainingLowFiveSonny

Photo taken from: For Cats Only

 

 

How to get Started

You can train tricks in a few different manners;

Luring: This is where you use the treat or reward to guide the dog into the behaviour.  For example using a treat just above your dog’s head and moving it back slightly to get a sit.

Shaping: This is where you reward the dog for performing a behaviour with a little guidance or direction that does not involve the reward. For example teaching your dog to back up by stepping into them when they are between the coffee table and the sofa.

Free Shaping: This is where you wait for the dog to perform a behaviour and reward the actions and behaviours you like.  This method works best with a clicker or other well ingrained reward cue and can be a lot of fun to come up with lots of new behaviours over a short period

Accidental Marking: This is where your dog does something that causes you to react so rewardingly for the dog that they do it again.  A great example of this is my own dog – who does an Eskimo (nose) kiss.  She accidentiy bumped me in the nose when I went to check for something inside her kennel and I rewarded her with her entire dinner.  That is a very big pay off!  After that all I had to do was lean towards her and she would be trying to nose bump my nose.  We paired it to a command and viola an Eskimo kiss on command!

Finny Kiss

Clickers

clickersThere are different types of clickers available that can be used for training tricks and can work amazingly well if you have good timing.  To start you need to pair the click with a reward.  Simply sit with your dog and regardless of what they are doing – sit, stand, lie down, doesn’t matter – you click and give them a treat, click and give them a treat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It is a good idea to also pair a word with the click – the word “yes” is the perfect pairing because it can only be a positive word – try saying it mad… it doesn’t work.  So click and at the same time as you click say “yes” and give a treat.  It won’t take long for your dog to understand that click means reward.

A VERY IMPORTANT point:

  • Never lie to your dog
    • If you click you MUST reward
    • Click ALWAYS has to mean reward
    • Even if you clicked a behaviour you did not mean to, you MUST give a treat and try to be better timed on the next one

If you lie to your dog and sometimes click means reward and sometimes it doesn’t, it will not have the value it should and you will not get the results you may be hoping for.

So what kinds of tricks can you teach?

Anything you can think of.  If you can think it up and you have a very eager dog you can likely teach it to them.

Simple or one step tricks – essentially these involve one action by the dog:

  • bowGive-me-your-paw-dog-trick
  • beg
  • rollover (both directions)
  • shake a paw (both)
  • wave
  • crawl
  • spin & turn
  • play dead
  • lay flat
  • dance
  • retrieve
  • go around something

Complex or compound tricks  –  these require a series of actions in order to complete the whole trick;

  • Put yourself to bed
  • Ah-choo – get a Kleenex
  • Clean up your toys
  • Retrieve items by name
  • Put your toys away

Words of Advice

  1. Keep in mind that all dogs learn at varying rates.  So something you taught one dog to do in 5 minutes might take another dog 5 months for it the dog to get it fully.
  2. Break tricks down into little pieces and reward the pieces, working eventually to the entire action.  An example of this is teaching the rollover.  Don’t try and get the entire roll before rewarding.  Reward your dog for laying down on to their hip, reward them for turning their head towards their shoulder, and so on.
  3. Dogs are “sided”. Much like we have a dominant hand (the one we write with) dogs also have a dominant side.  If you find teaching rollover in one direction extremely difficult try the other direction first, this goes the same for teaching shake a paw and spin & turn.  One side will be taught much more easily and quicker than the other.
  4. Timing of praise and reward are the biggest keys.  The faster you are to click, praise, reward, the faster the dog associates the desired action with the reward.
  5. Dogs only understand praise in the moment – so praising something they did even 5 seconds ago is too late.  They will pair the praise with the action occurring as the initial praise is happening. (“Yes, good dog, what a GOOD dog!” when said all in a row will be associated with the action that occurred on the “Yes” and is especially a strong verbal reward if the action is still occurring).
  6. You can “jackpot” reward when the dog finally gets an action in the right direction of what you are teaching or when they get the whole action.  To “jackpot” with a clicker, you click several times while feeding multiple treats.  If not using a clicker just give your verbal cue “yes” along with other verbal praise and give a bunch of treats.
  7. Keep training sessions short.  Work for 10 minutes, give them a 10 minute break.  When it may seem your dog isn’t getting it, a break can give them the needed time to think about it and in your next session they may very well get it.
  8. Have a big “party” when they finally get what you were teaching.  Tons of praise, petting, and rewards can really ingrain in your dog that the last thing the did is exactly what you were wanting.
  9. Add commands for the tricks after they have learnt the action.  For example don’t say rollover while you are trying to get them to do it.  Instead once they have gotten the action and you are having the celebratory party say “good rollover, what a good rollover“.  Now the next time you get them to do it, while they are rolling over say “good rollover”. Then at the beginning you can say “rollover” and get them to do it.

For information on teaching a few specific tricks – retrieving an item by name, pick up after yourself, & 101 things to do with a box – see the Training Tricks page on our website.

For more information about training your cat some tricks click the cat image at the top of this post.

10_DogTraining_FreezeTrickorStickEmUp_xxxlarge