Dear Labby, My Rescue Cocker Spaniel is Chubby!
My Cocker Spaniel, who we rescued from a shelter 6 months ago, is 5 yrs old and has gained four lbs. She is looking too chubby and we don’t know what to do!
She weighs 27.4 lbs, and the vet thinks she should be at 22-23 lbs. I feed her Nutrisca dry food, chicken and chickpea recipe by Dogswell. I feed her 3/4 cup 2x daily plus a tablespoon of 100% pumpkin for each meal. I only give her a few treats each day and a greenie after her night meal. We do give her some table food bites when we are eating and my grandchildren give her some of their snacks from time to time.
She also gets some veggies – brocolli, carrots, banana, apple, from time to time. For variety, I was also mixing in a little canned Nutrisca chicken, chickpea just for moisture, 1/4 cup and subtracting the dry 1/4 cup.
We walk about 4 times a week for about 30 minutes, about 1 to 1 1/4 miles. What should we do so that our dear girl doesn’t become a chubby cocker?
Dear Chubby Cocker,
We can see the problem right away. You are feeding too much! Please check with your vet to be sure your dog is otherwise healthy before embarking on a weight loss plan. It looks like your dog burns around 585 kcals per day — assuming 4 x per week of 30 minute walk at their current weight. However, their target weight is 22 lbs and their kcal burn at that weight is ~515 kcals.
For weight loss, you should feed at 75-85% of their target weight kcals which is 450 kcals per day, until target weight is achieved and then you can gradually increase to 515 kcals.
The 1 ½ cups dry food you are feeding is providing 555 kcals. Now add the pumpkin, scraps, greenies, and other treats and you are very likely overfeeding by several hundred kcals per day.
You need to feed less and/or exercise more. But remember that for most dogs, diet is the most important aspect of weight loss. Thus, we recommend that you keep the feedings at around 450 per day TOTAL. If you want to continue with the treats, you need to adjust the food amounts accordingly. Based on what you have told us, we think that 1 cup of food (1/2 cup twice daily) is sufficient. It will provide 370 kcals and leave you about 80 kcals as a buffer for treats and scraps.
Good luck and please send us an update in 6-8 weeks.