Fatty Fatty Two by Four


Rusty, just hanging out on the farm

Last week the local farmer called Rusty a fatty. I’d been thinking he (the dog, not the farmer) was bulking out a bit and so Tim’s comment got me worried. Rusty’s a Staffy X Kelpie. Kelpies are narrow and Staffies are built like a shoe box so I’m guessing he’ll be somewhere in between. He was born the 19th of June, 2013 so he’s just past his 11 month birthday; he’s not an adult, not a pup, he’s a teen. I don’t think he’ll get taller but I bet he bulks out even more. By bulk I mean muscle, not fat (please).

Thinking that an obese teenager leads to a life of obesity, Frank and I didn’t want things to get out of hand so we started mixing a bit of grated carrot into Rusty’s food to help fill him up without putting the kilos on. This is something we saw on TV ages ago and remembered it. Then, as usual, I hit the internet.

Yes, carrots (and lots of other veggies) are good diet food for dogs which means we’ll keep adding them to Rusty’s meals if he’ll keep eating them. Right now, Rusty will begrudgingly eat carrots (you should have seen his face the first time I put a bowl with carrots and kibbles in front of him) if they’re grated and mixed in with his dry food and yogurt (Rusty’s standard meal severed twice daily) but if the carrots are not “juiced” with yogurt or dry food, they stay in his bowl.

The other info gleaned from the internet convinces me that we don’t (currently) have a real problem with Rusty’s weight. Basically, if a dog has a waist, you’re okay. When looking from above, he should be narrow just before the back hips. When looking from the side, he should have a pronounced lift in his belly before the hind legs. You should be able to feel his shoulders, ribs and the top of his tail without too much fat getting in the way. Rusty passes all these tests but we’re still a little worried. At 11 months, shouldn’t he be skinny? Like humans, I imagine dogs are at their thinnest in their teens.

For the record, Rusty’s currently 21.6 kilos (47.6 pounds). That’s pretty heavy for such a small dog! You decide, is he fat?

Rusty from above, some waist is visible

Rusty from above, some waist is visible

Rusty from the side, definitely his belly goes up at the back

Rusty from the side, definitely his belly goes up at the back

Above is what he looks like now. Below’s what he looked like a few months ago when I was confident he was a healthy weight.

Rusty in early January - he definitely looks thinner here

Rusty in early January – he definitely looks thin here

Rusty in December - not much difference in tummy tuck

Rusty in December – not much difference in tummy tuck


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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18 Responses to Fatty Fatty Two by Four

  1. Kerry says:

    I have a Staffie. Love the legs, must be the Kelpie! Rusty looks great, your diet will take care of any excess, she is still a pup. Dino, my little girl, has no waist but she is a purebred. Being a Kelpie cross, mmmm … maybe he should have a bit of a waist, anyway he looks great to me. Living on a property he should be getting plenty of exercise. Lovely dog, Oops, fur child (as my wife says). Kerry

    • Thanks – My brother has a staffie and she has no waist. I’m sure Rusty should have some, maybe not a lot though. He should get plenty of exercise living on the property but he is still a pack animal and if I’m sitting still (even it I feel like I’m working pulling weeds) so is he. I think I need some sheep for him to herd but maybe there is a better weight loss plan than tormenting small animals 🙂

      Fur child, I like that!

  2. I would say, without touching him, he looks a tad heavy. Not a bunch, but some.
    The true test is to touch his ribs. Rub your fingers back and forth along his ribs, front to back (shoulder towards hip and then back towards shoulder). You should be able to feel the ribs pretty clearly under a layer of skin and another thin layer of fat. If it is at all hard to distinguish the ribs because there is a medium to thick layer of fat then he is heavy.
    He is such a cutie!

    • I’ve done the rib test and can definitely feel his ribs. Less easily than I could in January which is part of what’s worrying me. I agree, a tad too heavy, that’s why the poor thing is getting carrots with his food. Unfortunately we’ve just bought a new bag of food which is high in fat and protein – working dog food. Next bag we get we’ll look for high protein, low fat. I’m sure we’ll find the right equilibrium before he’s a butter ball!

      • Being aware and caring is the most important step. I am sure he will never have obesity issues with watchful owners. A lot of people just don’t even pay attention.

        • Or, a lot of people pay attention to a dog’s big brown eyes and keep feeding it out of love. I’m more of a tough love kinda gal and I know that if I control his diet he’ll be happier and healthier in the long run even if an extra cup of food would make him a lot happier in the short term.

  3. Glenn Rittenhouse says:

    I certainly wouldn’t call him fat. He has not reached his normal size at 11 months but I would watch his weight for the next few months and cut back on his servings if necessary. Like people, you grow taller and then fill out, although many humans do fill out too much 🙂

    • I am trying to cut back on his servings and the poor pup brings his kong and drops it at my feet. He wants more! He’s starting to get used to more carrots and less food though so I think I’m winning the war – just maybe not every battle.

  4. Rusty is a bit more chunky than January, but maybe that’s how he supposed to be now that he is growing up. I am sure that as you are looking after him so well he will not get obese. Its good that you care so much. The vet would tell you if he is OK, next time you visit.

  5. Cohutt's sis says:

    My lab get carrots as treats and has learned to love them. It also takes her a longer to chew a carrot than snarf down a biscuit and helps a little with keeping her teeth clean.

    Glad you’re back, btw!

    • Right now we grate them and put them in his food. He doesn’t get much by way of treats – we hold back some of his kibbles from meal time and give them as treats in his kong or in our hand through the day. I always feel it is a real achievement if there are treats left at the end of the day.

      I am not sure about carrots as treats. All his treats are given in the house and carrots would definitely stain anything they come up against. Is your house a pale orange now?

      Thanks, good to be back.

  6. Ruth says:

    Have you thought of lightly cooking the carrots? Probably not quite as healthy – but possibly more palatable to a dog – as you know cooked carrot has a very different taste to raw….you wouldn’t then need to grate them – just cut into pieces. Just a thought.

    • I’m too lazy to try cooking them, but it does sound like a good idea. As it is I grate a big carrot and that lasts for 3 meals. It’s not much work and he’s getting used to it. But I’ll keep that in mind for other veggies I might try to sneak into his food. He’s happy for meat and cheese to go in there but veggies? Not on your life.

  7. He doesn’t look overweight to me. Amelia

    • I hope you’re right and I appreciate your comment. We took him to visit friends who have a pup about the same age but a narrower breed (also a rescue dog of mixed parentage). They said Rusty looked a healthy weight “but he shouldn’t gain more”. I think I’m going to try to maintain his weight rather than reduce.

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