Another Controlling Weight Problem

We have a wonderful Golden Retriever that came to live with us just under three years ago. We had lost our previous Goldie in the November of 2011, and we missed him terribly. Our present best friend had been taken in by a nearby Rescue Centre, and seemingly hadn’t had the best of starts in life. It was love at first sight! When we first saw him, in the December of 2011, he had kennel cough, and looked a bit of a poor specimen. He was thin, and I thought at first that he had a roach back, but thankfully that wasn’t the case, he just needed some good food, and plenty of TLC. He came home to us in January 2012, and since then he has improved beyond recognition. We don’t know his exact age, they told us when we got him that he was about 3 years old, ‘nearly’ 3 years on, now he should be about 6, we can’t be sure.

Our boy is quite tall for a Golden Retriever, taller than the average for the breed by about two inches (so there is more to fill). Also what I have read suggests that the ideal breed average weight for a male GR is around 36kg. Our lad never has been that low, even when he first arrived with us. If the shop scales are to be believed, today he weighed in at 47.8 kg, I was totally shocked. I would like to get him down to around 40 kg.

About 3 months ago we moved him on to Eden (good review on this site), and also recommended by a shop near to us, as we don’t want to feed him on anything with ‘nasties’ in. Before he was itching and scratching a lot (he isn’t now), and his coat wasn’t shiny, it is now much better. The present problem is trying to ‘reduce’ his weight.

When we put him on Eden we tried to follow the recommended feeding amount for his age etc… However, as I have read in other messages, and elsewhere on the site, recommended amounts are not always appropriate for every dog, so when we noticed he was looking a bit ‘porky’, we cut the amount back to about 115 grams of Eden each meal, as we feed him three times each day (approx daily total 345 grams).

With the Eden, when giving him his dinner and tea we have been giving him a couple of ‘Betty Miller’ biscuits, ‘and’ one of those small dry fish skin cubes. Occasionally, say a couple of times a week, he may also have had a Tripe stick (the dry crunchy sort).

I am trying to be completely honest, but realise that we may have been giving him too much, especially with the add-ons.

I did some further research on this site and looked at quite a lot of other information on other sites, and eventually discovered that a different shop no more than 3 miles from where we live stocks Acana Light & Fit. I went along and bought a 2 1/2 kilo bag to see if that would help reducing his weight. Currently I have been mixing it in with the Eden, to see if he’s ok with it, and so far he seems to be. The amended weight per meal Eden/Acana L & F is around 105 grams (not exact), daily total approx 315 grams.

My current plan would be, for a time at least, to move to Acana Light & Fit in the hope that we do get some weight off him, as I am desperate to ensure that he doesn’t end up with joint, or other issues as he gets older, due to being overweight. If that was my fault I would be distraught.

Exercise wise he gets between 1 1/2 - 2 miles a day, but on Sunday he gets a good 5 miles.

Our ‘boy’ isn’t at all picky with his food, he loves anything you put down for him. He approaches each meal with vigour, and gives you the impression he is still hungry when he’s finished.

I’m sorry for the length of this, but I wanted to give you the full picture. I am prepared for constructive criticism, but would genuinely welcome comments on the above, especially with advice that would help get some weight off him.

Many, many thanks,


Hello and welcome to the forum. I sympathise with you as I too have the same problem with two of my dogs, both speyed. I looked very carefully at Acana Light and Fit on several occasions and very nearly tried it so I will be interested to learn of your opinions of this product.

I can only tell you of my own (lengthy) experience in this matter as I am no expert. I have read an awful lot about how to control weight in dogs and higher protein/lower fat seems sensible - this is the approach that Acana take with their Light and Fit. The problem is that many of the newer, high protein foods have corresponding high fat. Last year I telephoned James Wellbeloved helpline and they advised this too. I managed to get a little over 1kg off the eldest one of them using James Wellbeloved Light but it took six months and I had to give a lower amount than RDA. Food that has high protein and low fat usually also has high carbohydrate, be it cereal, potato, sweet potato etc.

Earlier this year I put them all onto cold pressed Gentle. Despite feeding less than the minimum RDA they struggled to lose weight so I tried raw (Nutriment Light) and it did kick start the younger one’s weight loss. However, although she hasn’t returned to the original weight, it has been fluctuating and doesn’t seem to be steadying out. The other problem was that the eldest dog put weight on. It was more of a problem when they went onto the normal varieties. They are now all back onto Gentle but at a reduced amount - lower RDA is 85g - they are having 65g and their weight is steady. I would need to drop it a bit if I wanted more weight off. It’s tough because it is such a small amount. They only have sea jerky treats and one gravy bone biscuit at bed time. Like your dog, mine are exercised.

It was one of these new high protein/high fat foods that initially piled the weight on the younger dog even though I gave a smaller amount than recommended. They are good products but in my experience, for the dog who easily gains weight the owner needs to monitor it carefully and adjust as necessary.

My two are more or less where I want them to be weight wise but I have come to the conclusion that I will always have this problem with them - they probably just have a slow metabolism and they are a breed that is prone to this. Whatever I feed will have to be considerably lower than the amount recommended so it will always have to be a case of monitoring their weight. Hopefully your Goldie won’t be like mine.

For your dog, obviously the place to start is to discontinue any treats or leftovers. Next, try the Light and Fit but be prepared to give a much smaller quantity - continue to reduce it until the weight loss begins. Regular weighing seems (to me) to be essential - if possible, weekly.

Good luck and I hope to hear how you get on. I am always on the lookout for a food that will keep the weight off but satisfy them so It will be interesting to read of your experiences with Acana Light and Fit.

Hello and welcome to the forum,

My dog has put on about a kilo in the 2 years we have had her. She was from dogstrust. The vet said she is lean and fit so she must have been underweight. (she is only 6.5 kg now)

Now she is at her ideal, I keep a record of her weight and weigh her monthly. She has stabalised in the last few months and mostly what I have done is significantly reduced all her in between meal snacks.

I know it isn’t always that easy though. Dottie has had a real battle due to how easily her girls gain weight. She is very experienced in this matter so its all good advice. Best of luck and let us know how things go.

Thank you both for your helpful comments. I am of course monitoring our ‘boy’, and will surely let you know how he gets on once he’s on Acana Light & Fit totally. He’s still got a little bit of Eden mixed in, but the amount of that is gradually reducing.

Just as a matter of interest, although I guess there may not be any hard and fast rule, how soon should we expect to see ‘any’ weight loss, even a few ounces?



If your retriever is eating less calories than he needs, you should see a weight loss quite quickly. I would go for a slow steady approach so your boy doesn’t really notice any changes too much.

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Hi Alan

I am an admin on the eden Facebook page.

it sounds like a gradual weight gain rather than rapid increase. our usual suggestion in this case is to reduce the daily feed amount by 10% and increase daily exercise by 10% then monitor weight again after a week or two to see if it is helping. if not then a further 10% is usually enough.

It is important to weigh the daily portion, ideally with a digital kitchen scale, to give you proper control of how much you are feeding, scoops are not recommended as the foods can vary slightly in denity between batches since they are made from natural sources.

Hope this helps, and feel free to join us on Facebook for more advice if you need it



of course if you are giving other treats as well they often have a lot more calories that you realise, so I would swap those for things like raw carrot

Hello once again,

Thank you David & Tinyplanets for your helpful comments, useful and informative as I had hoped.

I have virtually stopped all the treats / extras that I had been giving our lad. He’s not had a tripe stick for 7/10 days or so, and I have only been giving him one biscuit when we come back from our evening walk. Apart from that the only thing I have given him is the very small cube of crunchy dried fish skin after each meal.

I think that you are right David, the weight gain has been gradual. You might say that it has crept up on us (or him). Having said that I reckon since the yearly ‘booster’ visit to the vet last January, where they also weighed him of course, I think that he may have put on something like 2.5 - 3.0 kg. As I said in the first post, last Monday he weighed in at 47.8 kg. Even though he is at least two inches taller than the average Golden Retriever, that is far too heavy, and I must do something about it, for his sake.

I accept that he doesn’t necessarily have to have the recommended amounts from any particular dog food, and I understand about feeding reduced amounts, but I do want to give him enough to ‘fill’ him, or at best, to ensure that he doesn’t feel hungry all the time. Is there anything that we might add to his meal to bulk it out, without contributing to dangers of adding to the weight gain?

For such a big dog the comparitively small amounts I have been giving him at each feed seems pitifully small, although, in fairness, he does settle down quite well after each feed. The amount he gets at each of the three meals a day, is about 100/110 grams. That is what we were giving him when he was totally on Eden, and in absolute fairness, the weight gain must have been going on ‘before’ we switched him to Eden.

I don’t want to go overboard on this, and do it too regularly, but I am hoping to weigh him again tomorrow. I will post further thoughts then. Hopefully he may have lost the odd ounce!



About the issue of continuing to decrease the amount fed until weight loss is achieved, this is exactly what I have done with the same result as you i.e. the quantity is pitiful. This is why I went down the path of raw food, thinking that it was the carbohydrate at fault (although Gentle has only 28% brown rice). David Green feels that high protein/high fat is the way to go but I found that my dogs needed approximately 40g less than 2% body weight just to prevent weight gain. My 12 year old piled weight on. This is why I am not sure about this approach to weight loss. However, I am just a pet owner and all I have is my own experience and struggle with weight control in my dogs.

If you accept that high protein/fat can increase weight gain in dogs then you have to look for a food with carbohydrate in one form or another. The advantage of this is that at least it goes some way to sating the dog’s appetite so for me, carbohydrate is not a bad thing as long as it is of good quality and not too top heavy. When I raised this question of appetite and decreasing quantities, David suggested adding a little very well cooked (in water) porridge oats or brown rice. You could also add vegetables such as green beans and carrots.

Some companies take a different approach to encouraging weight loss, Burns being one of them. Their Weight Control food has a high quantity of carbohydrate/fibre in the form of oats and brown rice. The protein and fat is very low. Of course this is the exact opposite of the current thinking about high protein and fat but according to various reviews it seems to help and the dog’s hunger is more easily satisfied. I wouldn’t want to keep a dog on it for very long though - perhaps just long enough to get it close to where you want the weight to be.

Like you, I feel rather mean when I give these tiny amounts of food and I will never get used to it. Will just have to wait until someone makes a food that doesn’t cause weight gain when given in normal quantities. I have high hopes of your experiment with Acana Light and Fit. Really looking forward to seeing if it is successful.

Alan, is there a reason you are feeding him 3 meals per day? It isn’t usual for an adult dog and, though I have heard it suggested for underweight dogs who need to be given a large amount of food in order to gain weight, I can’t think that it’s helpful when weight loss is needed.

Even a daily maintenance ration of a high quality dry food isn’t going to look very much when divided into 3, and one third of a weight loss ration is indeed going to look very small - and is likely to mean that at no time does the dog ever feel full enough to be satisfied.

If he were my dog, I’d cut out the middle meal of the 3, but do it gradually. Say, reduce the middle meal by 10g and increase the other 2 by 5g each every 3-5 days. In the end, when he’s only been getting about 10g each time, you can cut it out altogether and just give him the little fish skin treat on its own, and he’ll adjust very quickly.

The 2 remaining meals each being 50% bigger, he’ll get a nice ‘full tummy’ feeling twice a day - esp since he’s got used to much smaller meals - and then I think you’ll both feel happier with the weight loss rations. Personally, I’d certainly try that before adding anything else to his meals, since if you do that you’ll obviously have to cut the amount of kibble a bit further to compensate.

Certainly if you are looking to bulk out the food, though it sounds lke its probably not needed, then cooked carrots, squash etc and other low calorie low carb veg like that is probably the way to go, since adding things with carbs (rice, sweet potato etc) is also adding calories.

cut out the rest of the treats before reducing the food further, it is important with such a small amount of food that it all contains as much nutrition as possible, if you must give a treat just keep a few bits of the kibble back from one of the meals.

Weigh loss, as always, is a simple case of calories eaten being less than calories used reduce the calories, increase the exercise (gradually) and eventually the weight will start to go

First of all, as promised, putting our Charlie on the scales today revealed that he had ‘lost’ 1/2 kg (500 grams). That is in 5 days. I’m encouraged by that. What that weight loss is down to is, I guess, a number of factors all coming together. I’m sure that he won’t lose weight at that rate all the time, but at least it’s progress.

George … Good points well made, and I suppose one reason is that our previous Golden R - Benson (he left us in 2011 - still miss him), is historic, as he was on three meals each day, two meals just didn’t suit him. Mind you, the food he had was not as good a quality (now we know the difference) as Charlie is getting. I wil reflect on the suggestions you made.

Dottie / David … I not yet added anything extra to any of Charlie’s feeds, and the treats have all but virtually disappeared. Hopefully that might be but one small element in his loss of 500g. I have tried this week to ‘gently’ increase his exercise, that may have helped as well. I will refrain from commenting on the Acana L & F experiment for the time-being. The transitioning ‘mix’ of Eden/Acana should be completely used up by about Sunday, so I will be better placed then to make a judgement on my observations.

Thank you all for your continued interest.



Well done - clearly you are heading in the right direction. I too have divided the food into three meals per day but a few weeks ago I tried two and and substituted their dinner with a Kong containing Gentle. I ended up going back to three meals not because of the dogs but because I felt that they ought to have their dinner. :-[