(Mount Prospect, IL)
Oreo in summer 08 - at a perfect weight!
I have a 2 1/2 year old Chihuahua named Oreo (pick your names carefully, as Karma has a way of applying life situations to one's names - i.e. Ken Bright, owner of a lighting company! ;).
Oreo is my love. She was supposed to ey my 12 year old daughter's dog, but she just bonded with me and one thing led to another... She lives to be near me and I wouldn't have it any other way. Now that we have Lexie and the pups next to our bed, poor Oreo has to sleep with my daughter - you can tell she's sad not to be near my bed.
Oreo was never a very active puppy. She'd play a bit, but was more content to just sit with you and sleep. She loves walks, and admittedly, she doesn't get enough of them. We're in doggy daycare up to our necks, so the "older' dogs get a bit neglected, at the moment. I know - I feel REALLY guilty, but I'm a zombie and hubby is out of town and I am feeding Mojo every 2 hours, getting 3 kids to and from school and forget house work! LOL
Oreo was the perfect weight for her size up until around 18 months. She was a 7 1/2 - 8 lb Chihuahua, and even though that is over the breed standard, it was perfect for her. She's a bit taller and overall a slight bit bigger than my other Chis. She was bought at a pet shop (again, I know now the negatives of that, but would I change having her - NO) and is APRi registered. Her pedigree is actually quite nice, with some champion AKC lines and all ancestors over her parents were AKC registered. I'm assuming that she may have come from a "breeder" that primarily sells to pet shops. Not necessarily a puppy mill, but something in between. Her breeder has all credentials and has never had any issues on inspections - I researched - but she's not listed in any other breeder forum or with APRi.
So, Oreo started to slowly gain weight. She is now around 10 1/2 lbs and looks like a little sausage. Her face is still cute, thin and tiny, but her middle is rotund. This wouldn't be much of a mystery, but she eats so little that I can't fathom her being so chunky. A cup of Royal Canin Chihuahua kibble last her about 3+ days. By then my Weimaraner figures it's fair game and he eats the leftovers. I leave it out for her, since she only eats a bite her or there. Every few days, she'll partake in about 2 tablespoons of Evo canned food, and I offer it every day, but she doesn't seem to want it most days.
She does get one piece of plain chicken jerky daily - which she usually eats. She may guard it for hours and chew on it here and there, but eventually she'll eat it, probably just to make sure Merlin doesn't get it. ;)
Other treats are minimal and days apart. She loves fresh chicken, but I limit that. Her weakness would be chips, but I don't indulge her, no matter how those puppy dog eyes plead with me.
So, I realize that more exercise would be called for, but even when we were in Austria for 4 weeks in the summer, and she was walked an hour daily by a family friend (I was recovering from double hip replacement), she still didn't lose weight. And she ate even less over there, as she doesn't like the dog food there.
I asked one of my vets (like with all things, we shop around for vets and some have better vaccine prices and others are better for the medical emergencies) and she said that Oreo may have a thyroid problem, but she thinks she's awfully young for that. We will be testing her when she goes in for her heartworm test, so she only gets poked once. I have thyroid issues and know that lethargy or tiredness can be a big symptom in humans, but I know nothing of the issues dogs have with this. She just never was a very active dog. I call her my little snuggle bunny, as that's her favorite activity. ;)
What are other possible reasons that dogs could be overweight medically? I want to get as much information as I can and then discuss all possibilities with my vets. I don't want to go in there and rely on them to figure it out, as so far most of them blame me and don't believe me when I tell them that she eats next to nothing. I know that many dog owners overindulge their beloved pets, but I want that tiny little Chihuahua, that doesn't break my back when I carry her around! LOL And I know that it's not good for her to be overweight, so I am careful with what I give her. I just hate the assumption that it's the fault of the owner (this coming from a 250+ lb vet at about 5'5"). I have also been there, done that. I had a gastric bypass 8 years ago and I wasn't even morbidly obese, but I didn't ever want to get there and decided on drastic help. I'm so glad I did - for my health and for my kids. So I don't want it to be an issue for my sweet, sweet baby girl.
What do you think it might also be? Poor metabolism? Another type of illness/condition?
Recently I read on your site that someone lost an overweight dog at age 5 and that rattled my cage. I don't want that to be Oreo's fate!
Isn't Oreo just a cutie. She does look fairly big in your photo (not fat.. I mean tall) for a Chihuahua but very happy and healthy.
Any sort of sudden increase or decrease in weight should be evaluated by a vet, so it's good that you are going to have her checked out soon. Thyroid problems are definitely one possibility, as is diabetes or a tumor. However, she looks very healthy and there would often be other signs of illness such as excessive thirst, pain or discomfort and so on.
Although tiny dogs generally have very fast metabolisms, it could just be that Oreo is one of those 'exceptions that prove the rule', and even though she doesn't eat very much, she doesn't 'burn it off' very quickly either.
I'd make sure that you're not feeding her a dog food that is too high in calories or protein as that could increase the problem, especially as she isn't very active right now.
It's really very difficult to guess at what may be causing her to gain weight, but at her age and with her being in good health, I would personally doubt that it's anything you need to be really concerned about.
BUT, definitely get her checked out by your vet to be on the safe side. If anyone here owns chihuahuas and has any tips/advice/input for Natalie, please feel free to submit them on the comments page below. All and any help appreciated.
Natalie, I know that you're having a very hectic time right now with all your 'furbabies', but hopefully things will settle down soon. Keep up the good work with them and keep us posted as to how they're all doing. Hugs to Mojo :o)