By Louise Dunn, BabelBark Advisory Board
Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting
Every January is the same thing – the dreaded New Year’s Resolution. And every year, it is the same resolution for me – get in shape, lose weight, and exercise more. This year it is a little different, however, because my dog needs to lose weight (according to her veterinarian). We are in this together – and I am not about to let the dog win this challenge.
My first plan of attack was to figure out how many calories I can burn by walking my neighborhood. I do not own a FitBitTM, but a simple Google map search gave me the distance. Another search and I see that I could potentially burn about 100 calories. I wonder if the dog will burn as much. Another Google search and I read that dogs burn 0.8 calories per pound per mile.1 I’m thinking I will win this challenge since I will be burning more calories. To celebrate, I eat a few cocoa almonds.
Our first day starts off great. It is sunny and comfortable. I put on my new “running” shoes and attach the leash to my dog. About 0.1 miles into the walk I feel that tugging on the leash, but yelling at the dog is not beneficial to my stress level. At 0.2 miles I figured I had burned way more calories than I initially calculated due to all the tugging and yelling. My neighbor calls out to me at 0.25 miles – we stop and chat while the dogs wrestle with each other. Shoot, I think the dog has now burned more calories. As we say our goodbyes, I realize how much time has gone by and decide to return home. I walked one-half of my goal, but I’m going to assume that I burned enough calories being jerked around by the dog on a leash.
Day 2 – rain. Nope, ain’t happening. Instead, I review the calories on the treats – both the dog’s and the human’s. Crikey! Nine Hershey Kisses™ equals 200 calories – now I need to walk 2 miles (because you can’t eat just one). As for the dog – ok, so dog treat calories aren’t presented the same way as human treats. How many kcals should my dog get in a day? This is getting complicated. I peel open a Hershey kiss for myself and toss the dog one of her treats. I’m burning brain calories trying to devise a food plan.
Day 3 – The dog won. I didn’t intend to go crazy today. I mapped out a different route (to avoid stopping to talk to any neighbors) and thought the dog would have fun being off the leash. Well, a little squirrel proved to be too enticing and off went the dog. I spent 20 minutes exercising my lungs – calling and calling…what a waste that obedience class was. Once the dog returned we immediately went back home – the dog huffing and puffing from all the exercise, me huffing and puffing from stress.
Days 4-6 are a loss due to traveling for work. I arrive home and feel guilty about leaving the dog, so we both relax on the couch – me with my Hershey Kisses and the dog with a treat I picked up at the airport. I decide to call my veterinarian to talk about the dog’s weight plan.
It turns out my veterinarian has just connected with a platform called BabelBark™. The receptionist tells me how to download the app and save the practice as my provider. She then walks me (no pun intended) through the app to see the dog walkers and trainers that are near me. I think my New Year’s resolution just got a little easier – for the dog anyway. The lesson in pet nutrition from my awesome veterinarian was complemented by the fact that BabelBark listed the diet and the app reminds me about the feeding