Regan’s Weight Loss

Regan’s Weight Loss Story

By Missi Rochman

Regan is a 14-16 year old, immobile Akita/Shep mix who has been a “food mongrol” her whole life – She

lives to eat! Her two hind legs are “bad” having had TPLO surgery on one (6-7 years ago) and needing

TPLO surgery on the other hind leg. Therefore she relies on her front legs especially for balance and

movement. Her cushings disease makes her too high risk for surgery, in addition to her age. She has

learned thru medicine management and basic adjustment to use her hind legs, however she has had

growing trouble going up and down a few stairs and getting up from a laying position.  She also has a

Regan should be and use to weigh around 67-70 lbs (healthy weight).  Because she has always enjoyed

food , I began “overtreating” her and giving her yummy bones and food scraps many years ago. It wasn’t

until April 2014 when she lost her bonded pal of 10 years, that she stopped eating and began grieving

which lasted a few months.  In April 2014, after a checkup, I was surprised to learn that she was 91

pounds! She looked obese but didn’t realize how bad of shape she was in (weight wise) until her last

checkup.  At that time, we found out she had the thyroid condition.

The thyroid meds helped her lose some noticeable weight; however, she gained much more weight

(even on the thyroid meds) upon switching her to a “high end” yummy canned food (wellness simple

ingredient) in order to get her to start eating (among other things like ribeye steak, etc.). The grieving

process took time but eventually I found myself running through lots of expensive canned food in which

It was until about 5-7 weeks ago that I made a conscious decision to change my own behaviors with

feeding her. It was an easy concept (feed less, don’t over treat) but difficult in practice due to the guilt I

felt knowing how much she used to love food..

As a side note, I adopted a couple of old poodles which in hind-site helped her  grieving and overall

happiness levels – once I noticed her grieving subsided substantially, I decided to make an honest effort

to feed her dry kibble and portion control it – noting I stopped hand feeding her and stopped giving her

treats every time she barked for one (often prior to her grieving).

The process to find the right (non prescription) food for Regan involved spending several hours reading

labels at Petco  in which I met a rep for a new Hill’s line of food called “Ideal Balance – Slim and

Healthy”.. Note, I’m very picky about food sourcing /ingredients in dog food from China.  This Hills line is

the only line I found at the pet store that specifies the “Sourcing” in general of all the ingredients noting

that foods made in America could have ingredients sourced from China that aren’t stated on the

package. Hills is sourced from North America and Europe and made in America. Plus, Regan had been on

prescription Hills for years so I was comfortable with that.

The main point is, just like we humans have to do, I had to read and literally compare the labels on all

the foods (and treats) available for senior dogs and weight loss. It was shocking to know how fattening

the fancy wellness simple ingredient food (as well as other brands like Blue, Ultra, etc.) was in

comparison to several other “all natural” and regular brands.  I also went to all natural food stores

(treats unleashed, four muddy paws, etc.) thinking that all natural senior, etc. (paying more!) would help

regan’s weight loss – nope, I was wrong! The more all natural food I gave her (without looking at the

labels) the more obese she got.. paying particular attention to the fat content of canned food ..yet

another reason to get her back to kibble fast!

In addition, I noticed that Regan’s hind legs would shake tremendously upon standing and walking – to

the point where she needed my help getting up and down a couple of back stairs to go outside for

poddy which also became a seriuos struggle this year. Thus, I knew it was ME who was the lead

contributor to her obesity.  At that point of understanding and accepting that I had to do something

about it, I transitioned her carefully to the Hill’s line of dry kibble, low fat canned food (for the transition

and special occasions), and low fat treats – Hills has a variety of new treats in their Ideal Balance line and

I also use a measuring cup and feed her consistently in the morning (once a day) with 1 cup of dry

kibble. Sometimes I’ll feed her another ½ cup of food mixed with some “Slim & Healthy” canned food for

variety – but I do not give her the whole can even though its low fat.  Note, this Hills brand has very

specific instructions on the bag for how much to feed for weight loss vs maintenance.  She gets slightly

less than the recommended amount and I may increase the amount once her weight gets closer to a

Note, I do not leave her food down to eat at her will – she is fed on a schedule.  Also, I switched to “Pill

Pockets” to give her medications (was previously burying her pills in the wellness canned food)  – This

helped tremendously in cutting calories and fat (and $$$).  Plus, she luvs the pill pockets and they are

Another thing to note is table food and scraps.  I still let Regan lick the “cereal bowl” when I am finished

with it – that has been “her thing” for 12 years and don’t want to change that; however, I make sure

that there is only a flavor to lick and not left over food (all psychological!).  On occasion, I’ll leave a few

bits of food or throw her a cracker or something special, but few and far between at this point. She

What is interesting is that, for Regan’s senior poodle brothers, I leave their food down all day to eat

when they are hungry. It is a different food (same brand, Ideal Balance, just for small breeds). She

doesn’t eat their food; rather waits until her special feeding time and will eat her kibbles in her own

special elevated food bowl. As mentioned, for variety, every few days, I’ll mix in her Slim & Healthy

canned food as a special treat or pour some low sodium beef or chicken broth over the kibbles if she

I also did extensive research on pet food reviews – got to be careful what you are reading. For example,

the Hill’s Ideal Balance “Slim & healthy” line got some “negative” reviews about it being more plant

based protein diet using chicken broth as an ingredient. – I actually considered this a positive and glad I

put her on this food as it worked and is working for her   Note the Slim & Healthy line is for “adult”

dogs up to 6 years old.. Given Regan is a senior, that initially concerned me.. UNTIL I started comparing

the nutritional analysis to other “Senior” dog foods including even the Hills line.  This “Slim & Healthy”

line had a significant lower fat content then the senior lines so another reason to read labels!

What I’ve noticed to-date is that Regan is slimming down!! Her hind legs shake less upon standing, she

has less of a struggle standing up from a laying down position, and with the proper mats at the bottom

and top of the stairs (for grip/traction), she can get up and down the stairs easier than a few months ago

when I had to help lift her up by the rear end to support her front legs.

Bottom line is that the extra weight on her body was literally KILLING her – I was shortening her life by

not practicing Portion Control and paying attention to the nutritional levels on the packages of

Also, her weight loss has helped her overall health. Her excessive panting (from cushings disease?) has

dramatically decreased and well as other symptoms of her cushings (ie spreading of calcification patches

on her face have subsided).  I had purchased a cool gel bed for her extra large orthopedic dog bed given

her extreme panting and inability to appear comfortable when she was so heavy. She used to lay on it a

She no longer lays on her designated dog bed; rather has taken over her small brother’s bed (Ceasar)and

fits nicely in it (size large, size smaller than her regular bed). A few months ago, there was no way she

could fit in her brother’s bed.. She now fits nicely!!

In terms of cost and schedule, the Hills rep gave me tons of coupons and the food is reasonable in terms

of cost in comparison to more upscale brands (ie wellness, blue, etc.) by about 5 or 6 dollars a bag.  I

also save TONS of time in the morning and evenings by not spoon feeding her canned food and not to

mention the money I am saving by drastically reducing /eliminating canned food from her diet.

Oh, about the treats, she no longer gets yummy marrow bones (ie the kind you buy made in America at

an all natural pet store) or any treats with a fat content of 5 to 6 % at most.  In fact, since I have smaller

dogs around as well, I only buy the Ideal Balance treats for the small dog size and she is fine with that. If

I purchase a larger treat within the fat % range, she gets half.

Hope this helps…and NO, I don’t work for Hills – am very snobby about dog food and have often fell for

the marketing hype of more expensive foods that ended up having much higher fat contents.

Now if only I could do this with myself! 😀