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Hypothyroidism - Extremely Overweight Golden Retriever

Hello. We have a beautiful lovable male Golden Retriever who is 8 years young. He was neutered about a year ago due to behavioral issues (he was too aggressive and unpredictable) and we thought that neutering him would help his situation. The behavior problems which were then rare have seemed to been resolved, but even before he was neutered he was still overweight by about 100-110lbs. We're told he should be 80-90lbs by the Vet. He is now 135lbs and went on a weight gain spike after the neutering occurred. We've confirmed at the Vet he has hypothyroidism and he is currently taking 1.5 pills 2x a day. At first we saw him losing weight (about 4lbs) and were hopeful though he's slowly gained it back and he's been on the pills for about 4-5 months now.

His diet: Consists of the following: Purina One Real Salmon 4 cups fed 2x a day at breakfast and dinner times. The specifics on the bag are: For Sensitive Systems, Formulated with Yogurt, Real Salmon, rice, oatmeal, vitamin E, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, crude fat 16.0%, crude protein 26%, fiber 3%, calcium 1%, vit E 450 IU, Glucosamine 350ppm, 4045 kcal/kg - 1838 kcal/lb - 453 kcal/cup. Feeding interval: 76-100lbs 3.33 cup - 4 cups; Over 100lbs 4 cups + 1/3 cup for every 10lbs over 100lbs. These are TRUE measured cups using a 2 cup measuring container each time he's fed. For his medicine (which we track on a printed Excel chart to ensure we don't forget it) he was until recently given the 1.5 pills inside 1/3 of a Vienna sausage 2x a day. Now we are giving it to him in a small piece of cheese no bigger than a fingernail in size. We stopped the sausage thinking maybe it was too much FAT?!??!?! ..even though it is a very small portion. There are 4 adults that live in the house and 3 of them watch his diet and water intake very closely. The 4th person ensists on feeding him scraps when we are all asleep or not looking and NONE of us have a routine sleep pattern, but usually we are asleep when the 4th person is up. This 4th person overeats daily and feels guilty for not sharing a piece of his meal with the dog. Though I've come down on him lately he refuses to actually believe the hypothyroid problem exists because he's never seen it in all the years of dog owning (60 years) he's had though what he doesn't understand is that Golden Retrievers are #1 for having thyroid trouble amongst most dog breeds and this is the 1st time we've had one in the family. We named him Taz (the dog) because he's always been extremely rambunctious and disobedient, but now takes several commands and shows great intelligence yet with great freedom of spirit as well. When this 4th person gives him scraps it is NEVER bread cause he feels bad and only a slice of roast beef, slice of cold cuts (turkey etc..), or left overs from a can of tuna or corned beef and sometimes the remains off his plate, but not usually cause usually this 4th person cleans his plate TOO well. Since Taz has started taking the thyroid hormones he drinks water considerably. We have to refill it 2 to 3 times a day. Taz also very consistently EVERYDAY eats as much grass as he can when he's outside.

His activity: Taz has become extremely emotionally dependent on "the pack" to do ANYTHING. We let him out constantly and he will walk around the yard for a little while, but not nearly long enough to get good exercise. He will spend most of his time wanting to come back inside laying at the back doorstep. If we go out there he'll of course get up and walk around and play, but otherwise he'll just wait at the door and even if we are out there the majority of the time we're sitting so he will sit as well. There are 3 dog neighboring yards which he can sniff, run, and bark at and he will for a while, but again not long enough. Since the thyroid meds he shows WONDERFUL energy in SPRINTS running around the yard like a rocket when we get him excited or when the neighbor dogs get him excited, but its always in spurts/sprints. Most of the time though he is laying down outside or inside because unfortunately all of us overweight-ers in the house mostly do the same. When he is inside because he is so huge he causes much filth and is again into everything we are doing "constantly" he remains chained up at his bed area. If we let him off to walk around the house we get the 3rd degree from the housekeeper. Even when we do let him off the chain if we are not giving him constant 100% attention he will almost immediately go back to his bed and lay there and/or sleep. Being chained up is pretty boring I know, but we don't have much choice in the house and if we leave him out again he lays at the door and/or will eventually get hot spots again cause we live in a hot/humid climate in the south most of the year. He is mostly a house dog.

His medical history: He has always had hot spots since a puppy. His skin will turn red in splotches and flake. He has darkish black spots from where its healed over the years and he's been for cortisone shots on more than one occassion. He constantly (daily) bites at his front and back legs/paws trying to nibble stuff off (we don't think he has fleas). He has had swollen anal glands on more than one occassion and they needed to be drained which was a cause for a great deal of pain for him by his reaction to touching it. He has had cysts removed before and 1 of them was at the side of his neck and others were on his back.

The main problem is his weight and the thyroid hormone levels. Firstly the weight. I just spent some time before this post reading the entire literature on the back of the Purina One bag and it says that I should be able to feel/see his ribs. Its been years since that was the case. He has a large noticeable round belly that sticks out the side of him when he lays down yet he acts like he is completely fine around the house and yard aside from the biting at his paws/legs and grass eating. There have been a couple of times we were scared about him cause he seemed like he was having trouble getting up and/or didn't seem "coherent" though that was only 1 time recently for the lack of coherency.

Thoughts to try: Reducing the food to 3 cups and adding 1 can of no salt green beans per day fed at 2x per day. IE: 1.5 cup dry food and .5 can of green beans per serving - What does anyone think of this idea?

I have talked to the vet at length over this stuff and I do not seem to be getting anywhere. He continually thinks we are overfeeding the dog extremely so, but even though the 4th person in the house has his own world and beliefs going on we all know that Taz isn't being engorged with food and again every other dog we've had has had this similar lifestyle with no problems till Taz - the Golden Retriever. The Vet said if his weight didn't start dropping that we'd have to give Taz 2 pills of the thyroid medicine 2x a day and expressed great concern and was even a lil disturbed/mad like about it. I am concerned though because what I read here: http://www.ilovedogs.com/?q=hypothyroidism states that his thyroid levels should've been in check monthly since all this began (also states the flaky skin is a symptom), but the Vet seems to be using his weight status as a flag on what to do instead. Is that sufficient you think? I primarily took the time to write all this because I'm getting no where with the vet and people here at the house are afraid to underfeed the dog by reducing the Purina One recommended feeding amount per day though the bag does say to adjust the food levels if under or overweight as well, but as usual does not speculate as to how much for a given weight/size of a dog in either condition.

Well if anyone read all that. Thank you very much for your time and concern. I hope this amounts to some help for Taz and for others in the same boat.
14 Responses
82861 tn?1333457511
I honestly see you main problem being lack of exercise and mental stimulation rather than the thyroid and weight issue.  All the behavior you mention just screams that your dog isn't getting the exercise he needs.  His world is limited to his yard, and dogs don't do well mentally when they're limited in that way.  Getting him overly excited and running crazily around the yard isn't good exercise, as you already know, because you aren't getting results.  If ever a dog needed a job, this one is it.

You MUST get him on a leash and out in the world.  I don't mean using the 25 foot lead that lets him just do whatever he wants.  You have to challenge him mentally during that walk, and that means he has to pay attention to you, his pack leader.  I could write a book on what I sense your dog needs, but your best bet is to get a trainer to come work with you at home.  If you can't do that, I strongly recommend you read any or all of Cesar Millan's books (The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel) and rent one or more of his DVDs available at the video store.  Your dog is telling you exactly what he needs.  Most people don't realize what that is.  Now you do.  No more excuses.  You've got to get him out of the yard and walking every day.  
Avatar universal
First of all, Purina is a not a high quality commerical diet for any dog to eat.  It conatins corn gluten and other "fillers" that are not beneficial for dogs.  Some dogs are even allergic to corn...making their tummies distended.  If your dog has a sensitive system, then you can try California Natural.  There are other high quality commerical dog food better than Purina One, and they don't cost that much more than the lower quality of food.  

As for treats, only give your dog "healthy" snacks, avoiding grapes, raisins or prunes since these can be extremely toxic for some dogs.  In extreme cases, it can case permanent kidney damage.  Raw carrotts are good, and so are bananas and apples.  Cooked white chicken meat (just boil in water) is good as long as he doesn't have chicken allergies.  I would avoid cheese, sausages and hotdogs.  Some dogs can't handle dairy,and well sausage and hotdogs are bad for dogs and humans.  You can also purchase holistic dog treats...or all natural..no preservatives or gluten.  

All dogs need exercise.  Since you have a Golden Retriever and is overweight, then your dog needs to be walked at least two times a day.  Start off slow and build up his endurance, since it seems like he gets winded easily.  
Avatar universal
Wow 2 walks a day huh? lol - Thats gonna be funny, but it needs to happen and not just for Taz obviously. We watch the Dog Whisperer all the time and I strongly believe in what Caesar teaches, but the 4th person in this house thinks its all hogwash and all it takes is 1 person to ruin a regimen. It is not as simple as exercise though. Ya'll have to remember he has hypo-thyroidism so diet and his meds are key in combination with the exercise. I know he needs more exercise for sure especially now since you two replied, but I guess I'm asking what dieting portions I should try and whats a good brand. We've just never had to exercise a dog more than we are doing with him now and to be honest he gets more exercise now than any other dog we've ever had and we've had a Collie, Bassett Hound and a German Shepherd before this.

All we have in our town here is Wal-mart and 3 other grocery stores and I'd have to visit each one to find out what dog food lines they carry, but as I recall its all the same. There are no pet stores here let alone health food stores or pet health food stores. The PurinaOne that we are giving him isn't the cheap one. Its the higher line for dogs with sensitive systems, but I'm willing to try an off brand I've not heard of if it'll help him lose weight.

I forgot to mention too that we tried him on Science Diet for 2 months a while back and we gave him the amount of food it said to give for what we WANTED him to weigh and it did absolutely nothing, but now its obvious the exercise element of the equation was missing.
Avatar universal
Other thing - I have tried Caesar's tactics many times with Taz on walks. He is belligerent to the core. I have a short leash and he always runs out ahead of me, always pulls and yanks and I mean I'm not fighting a small weight dog here. This his 135lbs of fat/muscle pulling on me and he isn't dumb either.... he's pulled himself OUT of the collar several times even with it at its last notch. We've been meaning to get him a harness because the time he pulled himself off the collar was when he went to attack other dogs. Thats part of the problem of walking him too; we never know when he is going to try to attack another dog and the last time that happened the other guy was walking 2 dogs (1 on leash and 1 not; which was dumb on his part) and our dog bite the other one though there was no bloodshed. Seriously though, I change my mood to happy, I try to put Taz to my side as we're walking, but he will not stay there. He always jolts in front, pulls, yanks, etc.. I manage to keep him out of dog fights most of the time by just continuing on forward till his attention refocus' elsewhere, but sometimes its unavoidable as most dog walkers know.
Avatar universal
Yeah, everyone has to be onboard to see change.  It just makes your work even harder.  

Exercise is important at any age, but take it slowly with your guy...he's 8 years old and has other health issues.  All dogs are different, too...can't compare them.  You can try Fly Ball in your backyard.  He's a Golden Retriever, and this should be really fun for him.  But it's really important that you walk him.  He's looking to you to lead. Try walking in the early morning or in the evening when it's cooler, and bring water with you (for you and your dog).

A lot of the high quality dog food aren't sold at PetSmart or Walmart, etc.   Unfortunately, you would have to special order them, or find a small specialized pet store.  The reason is that most of the top quality dog foods don't mass produce for large chain stores like PetSmart, Walmart, or a supermarkets, etc.  They end up catering to small doggy boutiques.  A high priced food does not mean it's high quality food.  There's a difference.  Therefore, it's really important to read the label. If you want to, you can cook your own food...boiled white chicken meat and brown rice (not white) is healthy for dogs.  

How many times a day are you feeding Taz?  Usually adult dogs eat one meal a day.  If Taz can't handle that, then feed him 2 times a day, but adjust the portion.  Portion size is important.  The recommendation on the bag of dog food is always too much for a dog.  You'll have to make that determination on your own...based on the dog's individual needs.

Good luck!  Keep us posted about Taz.
Avatar universal
Wow, there's a lot going on with Taz.  Is Taz short for Tazmanian Devil?  I mean this is the most light hearted way, because I like the Tazmanian Devil.  

Avatar universal
Last months issue of Whole Dog Journal had a list of the best dry dog foods.  I don't remember all but what I do remember is that none of them are sold in Walmart or Grocery Stores - are there any feed stores nearby ?  Sometimes they carry good brands - I feed my guys Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul and I get it at a feed store.  Try to look for foods that do not have corn or fillers - Any type of "meal" or "by-products" are not good either.  Go on-line and research for the best dog foods and go from there.  But regardless of the food exercise is really important.
82861 tn?1333457511
You can always check online for premium dog food that can be delivered to your home.  Ask your vet to recommend a few different brands and take it from there.  When you read the ingredients, you want the first few ingredients listed to be "real food" like meat instead of "meat by-products" and higher in meat than grains.  I now use Royal Canin for a Dalmation with a sensistive tummy.  He's doing great on it, and both of my dogs go nuts over it.  None of my dogs has ever been enthusiastic about kibble until I started the Royal Canin.  scoty2 is right to look for foods that don't have a bunch of corn in it.  Corn is notorious for causing allergic reactions and tummy troubles.  It's very cheap, so that's why manufacturers of cheaper dog foods tend to rely on it.

I can tell you that the cheapest foods at the grocery or discount stores will not be the best for any dog.  They are high in fiber and fillers, and low on nutrients, resulting in the dog eating 4 times more than normal and pooping 4 times as often. It's really worth the few extra dollars to feed with a premium food.
Avatar universal
Yes, lol - Taz is short for "Tazmanian Devil" because thats what he reminded my sister/father of when they went to pick him out as a puppy. At the time they went to get him he had the police chasing him down for some reason or another (so I'm told).

Taz eats twice a day and we control his portion very well with a measured cup. I have since this post though dropped the food down to 3 cups + 1/2 can of green beans in the morning. We feed him 1.5 cup(s) of food per serving now and I'm making sure now he doesn't eat later than 4pm after his initial 8am-ish 1st serving.

Thanks scotty2 for the info on the dog food. I do not believe there are any feed stores around here either, but I'll look into this.

Thanks Jaybay and puppy_boo too. I had no idea about any of this "corn" and "by-product" business till I posted to this thread.

I will start doing some research on the best foods. Try to continue the diet and see how things. I'll be following this thread and posting back progress too.
Avatar universal
I wanted to say too. Yes, I've always known people to feed their dogs 1 time a day and we used to feed Taz 1 time a day, but now there is this psychological worry for no reason embedded into my family's minds that since he's so big and begs worse than someone living on the streets no matter how often or how much he is fed that he'll DIE of hunger which to me is quite ridiculous, but it seems to ring true as sanity in their minds. I may move him to feeding only in the morning (3 cups + .5 can of green beans) so that he'll burn it the rest of the day, but I'd rather wait till he loses weight before giving him just 1 meal time for sake of himself and his weight/calorie requirement right now as well as the sake of the minds in this house that feel he NEEDS to be fed 2x a day.
Avatar universal
For those that know whats what on dog food labels please look at this food label at the following link. This is what Taz is currently getting: http://www.thinkrolland.com/images/externallylinked/TazzyFoodPurinaOne-0001.JPG

Personally I don't see anything wrong with it except the "corn gluten meal" being in it at all. Earlier when I read ya'lls response I thought small amounts of this would be ok, but I went back and reread and ya'll are saying not to have it in there AT ALL. From what I know of my mom looking for food around town thats going to be hard to find. I may just have to resort to the ordering of the food as suggested.
Avatar universal
Well I feel like a real jacka$$ now. I spent all kind of time looking for the best dry dog foods and took ya'lls advice of what I ingredients I DON'T want in the dog food and then I went and bought this by mistake:

I meant to get him this because its actually available in a nearby pet store that I didn't think had other than the major brands at Wal-Mart:

Do ya'll think the Nutro Natural Choice that I made the mistake in buying is better than the PurinaOne I was giving him? Cause if I can't take it back I'd like to make use of it.
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