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Young dog seems excessively unfit

(27 Posts)
petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 12:18:06

Hi all,

My gorgeous dog is 18months old - he is a miniature Labradoodle so about the size of a small lab/ springer. My concern is that he gets so out of breath and recovery time from an energetic walk seems to take too long.

When we went to the Vet for his 12month boosters he said that he was the top weight he should be so I have upped his exercise and am careful with his food.
I have also started taking the ball wanger on walks so that he gets a good run. We have just got back from a 40 min walk where I began throwing the ball (all of our walks are through fields) but after about 10 minutes he was panting so much. We just walked for a bit but he is desperate for the ball so I threw it again for a while. He then was panting excessively and stopped for water at a sheep's trough which he attempted to climb into. He then lay down twice. We got home and he lay under the bushes waiting for the gates to open and looked like he would happily stay there. We have been home for fifteen minutes and he is still panting. I also think that when he walks he looks a bit waddley if that makes any sense.

Should I take him to the vet? I think I should but don't want to be PFB!

petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 12:37:04

30 minutes now and he's still panting.

idirdog Mon 15-Apr-13 13:29:12

When did you feed him in relation to the walk?

40 mins ball chasing is a lot to ask an overweight dog. It is also much warmer today.

Dogs will work run until they collapse so you need to monitor how hot he is etc.

I would do more shorter bursts of energy to get him fit. so maybe 5 mins of ball throwing stop before he wants to and then walk him. Do this a couple of times a day would be much more beneficial than one mad burst of energy.

You are with him in real life so only you can make the decision if he needs to see the vet, what are the colour of his gums like?

petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 13:40:29

Thanks so much for the response. I wouldn't call him overweight at all, I phrased it incorrectly in that the vet said his weight was fine but wouldn't want him getting any bigger - does that make sense? He is 30kg so not massive.

I think you are right though, I don't think I will take the ball with me again, just keep it for the garden. I also think that your point about the temperature is spot on, I now remember last year him finding it hard to adapt to the temp change. I think that what you suggested is what we have been doing (ball thrower in the garden a few times a day and one 30-40min walk across fields). I must've just over done it for him today.

Thank you so much - he is happy as larry now and I over-reacted, sorry!! (gums are pale and healthy looking btw).

I will take him out for our usual walk tomorrow and see how he is - it seems to be the running that bothers him.

Thanks again smile

Bakingtins Mon 15-Apr-13 13:50:02

If he's the size of a small lab/springer then 30kg sounds too heavy. I think you need to ask the vet or vet nurse what his ideal weight should be and what his condition score is now (judged either out of 9 or 5, with 5 and 3 being ideal respectively) The general perception of how fat a dog should be is massively skewed by the fact that nearly half the dogs you see walking around are overweight or obese. You need to be able to feel his ribs easily with minimal fat cover and see a waist behind his ribs when viewed from above and an abdominal tuck when viewed from the side.
The waddling would make me concerned about hip dysplasia, v common in labs and lab crosses. Does he have a Marylin Monroe wiggle? Ever hop like a bunny rather than move his legs in turn?
A young dog should be able to manage 10 mins of ball chasing in April, but perhaps you have just done too much for his current fitness level and need to build it up more gradually. I assume his heart and lungs were checked at his booster vaccination and no problems identified?
It doesn't sound like you need to take him to the vet today as he is now settled, but I think it would be worth having another chat with a vet or nurse about his weight, fitness and exercise regime.

idirdog Mon 15-Apr-13 13:51:38

Glad he is better.

You did not overreact at all. Much better to have a caring worried owner that not giving a dam smile I am glad he is as right as rain.

Young dogs can have lots of energy but again do not have a lot of stamina.

30kg is quite a lot for a miniature Labrador. My labs are no more than 27kg so you do need to get the weight off him but what you are doing sounds great.

18 months is also a time when the dogs have stopped growing and tend to put on a bit as it is hard to tell when to decrease the food a bit.

1MitchellMum Mon 15-Apr-13 14:10:21

I would be a little concerned about heart disease, though hopefully unlikely bearing in mind his age. I lost a six year old to DCM ... though we knew about it, thankfully, in advance. It's worth knowing what colour his gums are normally. If you're worried then press the gums. The normal colour should come back very quickly. I don't want to worry you, but would rather say something than not. When our girl had DCM diagnosed she used to regulate her own exercise - in her case not giving up the ball when she'd had enough! Good luck - and keep us posted.

petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 14:11:00

Thank you both.

bakingtins - I think that perhaps he is still a bit overweight - I can feel his ribs with a light touch but they are definitely under a fine layer of fat. I will pop into the vets tomorrow - I'm hoping that he has lost a bit since the booster in Feb (that was when they weighed him at 30kg) but I will take his weight seriously.

I know that is my fault - I'm totally guilty of giving him treats (like meat, gravy and veg on Sundays) but I do realise that my biggest responsibility is his health. He is my first dog and I still feel like a novice sometimes!! I've been putting a lot of focus into his training and I guess I have't been thinking enough about his diet.

idirdog - I hadn't even thought about him needing less food - he grew at such a rate when we got him that I just kept upping the amount blush - I will weigh what I automatically give him tonight and see if I'm way out!!

I do think that a full kibble diet must get boring for them - I keep reading about BARF but I really don't think that I have the commitment for it (trying to be honest!!) or the freezer space. How do you rate NatureDiet as an alternative? Maybe I need a new thread on this....

Thank you again - I am hanging my head in shame but I promise I'll get him fit!

Lilcamper Mon 15-Apr-13 16:06:03

What kibble are you feeding him?

needastrongone Mon 15-Apr-13 16:56:22

Hope he's ok smile

We have a Springer puppy who is 6 months old. He's currently 12.7kg and going to be a little one, breed average for males is 20-30kg. 30kg would be a big Springer I think.

No expert but wondered a couple of things. Could you do 2 x 30 minute walks a day therefore increasing his exercise but not the exercise load?

Small caveat - our puppy gets bags of exercise, an hour in the morning and about 75 minutes in the afternoon. Our vet is fine with this because he just potters around me and rarely goes more than half a field away at most, he's more of a sniffer and would rather hunt out poo to eat than chase a ball! She did warn against repetitive ball throwing, as this is wearing on the joints, but I do appreciate your dog is fully grown though but just thought I would mention.

The quality of kibble varies greatly, I researched this a lot before getting out puppy, although he's now moving to a raw diet anyway! I can point you in the direct of a couple of good websites for food but it's quite an eye opener what fillers some brands use, including the popular ones.

Ours has Taste of the Wild kibble, which is grain free but expensive, in the morning and we will move to raw completely when our supplies are used. You will be surprised when you weigh out the appropriate amount for an ideal weight adult how little there is!

In the evening, a bone or a couple of chicken wings, a drumstick or thigh. Sometimes some oxtail. I get a lot from our local farm shop, including the bones which I get free but last week I bought a bag of Sainsburys savers frozen chicken pieces (various pieces, drumsticks, thighs, wings etc) for £4. That will last a while. So, raw feeding doesn't have to be a chore but, yes, it's a bit more work than a bag of kibble.

needastrongone Mon 15-Apr-13 16:58:24

Hey - you love him tons, no need to feel bad!! I have probably done loads wrong already, he's our first dog too!

petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 19:29:41

Thanks - he was on Orijen but when I ran out about a month ago I bought JWB. He's definately more lab size (springer was probably a terrible comparison) but he is really stocky, not like a lean lab, very square iyswim.

The more I look at him the more I think he's just carrying too much weight - I guess good that I realise now rather than when he's older? I just love treating him with food! (Oh God, I have done so well not doing this with my children as my Mum comforted everything with food, I battled weight as a teen blah, blah - I've gone and projected it all on to the dog instead!!)

I think that, subconsciously, I've always thought a kibble only diet must be a bit soul destroying but, for reasons I now can't remember, I think that I thought it was the best way 'these days'. Maybe I've been supplementing his main food with more treats (a bit of cheese, fat off the ham, some chicken, a carrot...) than I had realised.

Today has given me lots to think about. I really do love that pup more than any non-dog-owner could ever understand.

petitdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 19:38:05

Have put a photo of him with my other baby on my profile - be nice!! That was taken last month.

Lilcamper Mon 15-Apr-13 20:14:35

JWB is decent stuff. Make sure you weigh out how much you are giving him and take subtract a treat allowance for him. Dry food isn't soul destroying, especially with all the other stuff he gets! To make it more palatable, add some warm water and it will make a 'gravy'

LadyTurmoil Mon 15-Apr-13 20:34:48

Gorgeous photo - v sweet daughter and dog! My brother feeds his dogs on a raw diet. We were over there tonight, dogs got a small chicken wing each and a bit of raw carcass (with a seaweed additive powder). It really looks like a tiny amount but it's enough for them - they are fairly small dogs admittedly - shih tzu, bichon cross and a Shiba Inu - but they love crunching it all up in the garden. They're given tripe, other offal and some fish oil as well, I think, to give variation. Lamb was too fatty and made them sick. It doesn't seem too much hassle at all but they do have a garage so got a cheap 2nd hand freezer - but they do have 3 dogs, not one! This website seems quite informative

Turniphead1 Mon 15-Apr-13 20:48:05

Petitdonkey - he's gorgeous!!! Very like our doodle in fact (who is also my "fourth child". Is he an F1?

I can advise re the exercise etc. But I am now worried I am exercising my 5mnth old pup too much and affecting her joints. We stick to about 30mins - but she bombs around during that time as her favourite thing is recall races back and forth.

Just like parenthood this dog ownership lark. Always worrying we are doing the wrong thing!

beachyhead Mon 15-Apr-13 20:59:17

We use Naturediet and kibble for a similar size lab. He has much less than the pack recommends, he's almost four and weighs between 22 and 25kg. The vet is very happy with his weight. I do two meals a day and a bedtime snack. He sometimes get a raw egg on top!

I agree, breathlessness is a worry so maybe monitoring the minutes walked versus the weight and diet might be good for the next three months.

petitdonkey Tue 16-Apr-13 14:03:57

Thank you all again.

Beachyhead - I am going to follow your lead, stick to a JWB kibble in the morning and then a NatureDiet pack in the evening. Weighing it all out for the past couple of days I think my portions were too big. I also have a tendency to give him a Rawhide chew if I'm going to be out for more than a couple of hours but hadn't really thought of them as calorific (no calories on pack but they are protein and fat so must have quite a few??)

He honestly isn't massive at the moment but I'm aware how easily he could be. I'll have him lean and lovely in no time at all.

The Doghouse has been such an amazing source of information since I got him - I really value all of the advice, it really is just like having a baby isn't it?? smile

petitdonkey Tue 16-Apr-13 14:05:58

Turnip - yes, an F1. My neighbour breeds them so gave him to me in exchange for using some of our land. I'm not sure it's a breed I ever would have chosen but I am amazed by how much I love him - I even tell the children and DH that I love him more than them most of the time wink

Inthepotty Wed 17-Apr-13 17:57:50

OP, my boy (mini doodle but a big one IYSWIM)) is 22kg, he's quite 'stocky' up by his chest and sometimes I think he looks overweight- but I can feel ribs and he has a waist. So he looks like a big powerful lab but then has a skinny bum!

With regards to panting and seeming really hot, I often think not only are most doodles double coated like a lab, they also have a big hairy top coat, too.

Agree with Iridog that 40 mins is quite a long time for ball throwing, my boy would chase a ball manically for hours but I think would end up hurting himself. I tend to use it for a 10min training session, half hour walk about, then do a bit of tracking/scent work, then use the ball thrower again for a few go's as a reward.

It is so hard not to overdo the teats though- don't feel guilty!

Eastpoint Wed 17-Apr-13 20:57:20

He looks adorable.

Dogs supposedly don't need variety, I have always fed mine the same thing day in day out. I have also always assumed that as they will happily eat cat poo, cat sick etc they aren't that fussed about what they actually eat grin.

bergedorf Wed 17-Apr-13 21:40:51

I can't add any advice as I'm also a first time dog owner, but just wanted to say your dog looks gorgeous!

topknob Wed 17-Apr-13 21:43:57

what is a small labradoodle??? not getting it whatsoever, please excuse my ignorance, but both are large breeds?

Bakingtins Wed 17-Apr-13 22:13:39

Depends which poodle. Standard poodle x are huge, toy or mini poodle (have to have a chair to reach the lab) will be smaller. Labs are almost 2 different breeds anyway, such a difference between a little lithe working lab and the big fat show variety.

mistlethrush Thu 18-Apr-13 09:44:41

I have had 3 dogs that have self-regulated their food consumption on 'boring' kibble - just eaten enough to be the ideal weight without having to be restricted. They all had a little treat of something 'different' (a different flavour of kibble in a small quantity) or some veg or similar to get them eating at 'mealtimes'. Our new (5mo) lurcher who is 2 ish started off inhaling her kibble. Now she eats it on and off throughout the day, when she feels hungry - again she has 2 'mealtimes' with something different in a small quantity added to her 'boring' JWB.

I think of it this way - if you had marmalade on toast for breakfast and you were really hungry, you would eat another slice of toast without marmalade, just because you were hungry. However, you wouldn't go on eating plain toast because its a bit boring - you would just eat enough to satisfy your hunger and then stop. The kibble (a good one at least) is giving your dog all the nutritional goodness it needs for its needs - giving a small amount of 'something interesting' (as long as its not high cal if you're trying to get the weight off) is fine, but you really don't need to worry about dogs getting bored unless you can't keep a reasonable amount of weight on them.

Another good treat to consider if you're going out is a kong toy, filled with some of the ration of kibble, mixed with a little natural yoghurt, and frozen - that makes them work for part of their 'normal' ration of food and should keep them occupied for a reasonable amount of time.

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