Archive for Tubby Tessa’s Tail

Tessa Did It!

It has been a long couple of months, but with a lot of hard work, Tessa finally reached her weight loss goal! (I should clarify, a lot of hard work by her… but those walks in the park were no walk in the park for me either.) Tessa joined our family as a plump, 3 year old English bulldog about 3 months ago. We adopted her with the hope of bringing another animal into our lives (to join the 2 dogs and 2 cats), but also to offer her a better quality of life.

She weighed just over 57 pounds when we brought her home and her chest measured 31 inches around… definitely not her ideal shape (geometrically and figuratively). She struggled to get on the couch when we watched a movie, she labored to get upstairs when it was time for bed, and she couldn’t even keep up with her new sisters Annie and Ashley. We knew something had to change.

We started by taking her to the vet and also consulting the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. We found out that not only was she the equivalent of a 5’4″ woman who was 60 lbs overweight, but the vet felt she could lose in excess of 10 lbs! We discussed with the vet what our best path for a slimmer and happy Tessa would be. Her checklist include a lot of the pointers you would imagine, including exercise and smaller servings, but she also mentioned a number of holistic solutions, including vitamins and supplements like fish oil and digestive enzymes, and even some things I would never imagine, like healthy table scraps.

The exercise routine was difficult to get started (to say the least). The front steps were about the extent of what she could handle. To supplement her outings, we got her started on several joint support supplements, including Get Up & Go and Lubri Ease. Now she’s pulling us around the block on her evening walks and with a running start, she can gracefully get up on the bed and couch!

Her diet was probably the simplest, and one of the most effective, steps we took to get Tessa on the right track. She was eating Iams at the shelter, and all of the extra fillers and carbohydrates were packing on the pounds. We got her off of that and on to “I and love and you” Nude Food kibble, which was a similar consistency, but much healthier, including higher protein amounts, unique carbohydrates (like lentils and chick peas) and even added natural sources of nutrients like glucosamine. Once she was completely transitioned, we started mixing in EasyRaw with her “I and love and you.” She is crazy about the taste (like the huge, whole chunks of raw, freeze dried turkey) and the vet said the quality raw was just what she needed for healthier stool and high protein.

The healthy table scraps took me for a loop. The best part about the vet recommending those is that it made me think about my diet as well. When Tessa would start circling my legs in the kitchen, it made me consider whether I should grab the carrots or the chips… I definitely went for the carrots.

To keep Tessa’s body functioning on all cylinders, the vet recommended an all inclusive daily vitamins, plus some extras like fish oil and digestive enzymes. She was one of our guinea pigs for our newest Ultimate Super Daily Plus vitamins, and I’ll say it worked perfectly. She gobbled the powder with every meal and I knew that on top of a healthy diet, she was also receiving all the nutrients necessary for keeping her happy and healthy.

Surprisingly enough, one of the most beneficial things for Tessa’s weight loss was a positive attitude and a lot of encouragement! Not a day goes by that I don’t compliment Tessa on what a great job she’s done and the amazing work she continues to do. And for those of you who might think this is a little silly, think about how helpful support is for a difficult task in your life and then remember, we all get by with a little help from our friends.

Now, Tessa is a slim 45 pounds and doing fantastic! And just because she reached her goal, that doesn’t mean her weight loss habits are ending. Just like everything in pet care, weight loss is a journey, not a destination.

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Tessa’s Weight Loss Tips

Tessa’s been with us for about a month and her weight loss has really hit a stride (literally and figuratively)! We’ve put her on a regiment that has shown obvious results (she’s already lost 5 pounds!) and that is really easy for us to follow as well. I want to highlight the 5 simple steps my family has been using to keep our newest member looking great and, most importantly, loving life!

1. Feeding Routine:

Before we got Tessa, she was allowed to graze freely from her bowl of kibble. It’s a common misconception that pets will self-regulate when it comes to their feeding. This is not true! Often times, several factors can be responsible for a pet overeating from their bowl, including competition with other household pets and even boredom.

Since we’ve had her, she’s been on a strict, twice a day feeding routine. We divide her daily portion into two equal amounts and give her one serving at 8 in the morning, and another serving at 6 at night. She usually takes a few bites, wanders around, and then comes back to finish up 20 minutes later, but she always finishes her meal.

2. High Quality Food:

Tessa was eating a diet exclusively of Iams kibble before we adopted her. This low quality food not only contains a lot of fillers, but it also contains a lot of artificial preservatives and flavors. She received zero diversity in her diet and no supplements or vitamins. It was like she was eating the same boring bowl of corn flakes for every meal. This changed right away!

The first step we took was changing her diet. We (unfortunately) had to buy a small bag of the Iams food that we began mixing with the much higher quality “I and love and you” Nude Food. “I and love and you” Nude Food is grain-free, has no artificial flavors or preservatives, is high in protein, and features low glycemic carbs like lentils and garbanzo beans… clearly a much better choice than the Iams. She took to the “I and love and you” pretty quickly and she didn’t even finish the other stuff.

Now we have her on a great mix of Only Natural Pet EasyRaw and “I and love and you”. The kibble gives her the texture she’s used to and the EasyRaw gives her quality, raw meat. It’s a perfect mix that she loves eating.

We’re also certain to include wild salmon fish oil, probiotics and a canine daily multi-vitamin.

3. Feed by the Numbers:

We feed Tessa to her desired weight, not the weight she is. When we first brought her home, we scheduled an appointment with our vet and had a serious conversation about what she should weigh given her breed, build and age. From there we determined she should weigh a full 11 lbs less… and began feeding her for that weight.

4. Too Many Treats:

This one has been difficult because she is so cute, but we had to put our foot down. Tessa has a bad habit of expecting treats just for being. Plus, all of the little bites throughout the day (licking the cereal bowl, the chip that fell on the floor, the peanut butter in her Kong) really add up to some serious extra calories.

To combat this, we started on our own personal plan of awareness and moderation. This includes breaking her treats into smaller portions, giving her single ingredient, freeze dried meat treats, and communicating with each other to get a real understanding of what she’s eaten that day.

5. Get Moving:

One of the most important parts of any pet’s weight loss program is exercise. When Tessa first came home, she wasn’t even able to make it up the stairs to the front door. But with a lot of encouragement and continued practiced, Tessa has been making it around the block on a nightly basis… she’s even made it out to Boulder’s Open Space on a couple of trips! This has been one of her biggest adjustments from the sedentary, kenneled life she was living before. But now we can tell how much her activity level is up and she’s even started going to the door when she hears the word, “Walk.”

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Tessa’s Tail

Tubby Tessa

When my wife and I brought Tessa, a purebred English bulldog, home from a shelter in Nebraska, we were most excited to have a new bundle of joy in the house. But admittedly, I had the ulterior motive of wanting to help Tessa shed some weight and regain her quality of life. At 3 and a half years old, she spent most of her life in a small kennel eating a free fed diet consisting exclusively of Iams kibble. I knew that not only could we give Tessa a loving home, but also a new lease on life.

To start, Tessa weighed just over 57 pounds and her chest measured 31 inches. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an English bulldog of her size is the equivalent of a 5’ 4” woman being 60 pounds overweight. We knew something had to change, and fast. Once we got Tessa home, the biggest change for her was the end of free feeding, or grazing, as we like to call it. Along with this was a drastic diet change. We knew we wanted to feed her Only Natural Pet EasyRaw, which offers all the health benefits of a frozen raw with the convenience of a dry food. The texture is quite different from her kibble diet, so to help with the transition we mixed a small amount of EasyRaw with a high protein, high quality dry food, like “I and love and you” Nude Food. Every couple days we added a little more raw and a little less kibble, until now she’s eating almost all EasyRaw.

We also have her on a variety of supplements, including digestive enzymes to make sure she’s getting all of the nutrients she can from the food, a daily multi-vitamin to make sure she’s maintaining overall wellness, and a joint support supplement, because all the extra weight has been tough on her joints and because of one of the most important parts of her weight loss plan: EXERCISE!

One of the biggest factors that led to Tessa’s obesity was her sedentary lifestyle. Well that changed right away. From her walk out of the shelter, to her nightly walk down the street, we’ve been keeping Tessa moving as much as we can. She loves getting out exploring and being able to keep up with Annie, Seuss, Gia and Goose at the office. It’s definitely a long way to her ideal weight, but every journey begins with a single step.

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