New member would like advice on diet dog foods

Hi everyone, very happy to have found this site! Would be grateful to hear if anyone has any experience or recommendations on brands of diet dog food. I currently feed kibble - Millie’s Wolfheart. My gorgeous girl, a two year old Labrador, is starting to pile on the pounds so the Vet has suggested trying to lose about three kilos by switching to a diet brand (and cutting down the treats of course!). Any advice very welcome as there seem to be many brands I could choose from. Thank you so much in advance.

Hello and welcome to the forum. I understand that Labradors have a tendency to gain weight and of course they are usually very greedy dogs. You don’t say which type of MWH you are feeding but some of their products are high in protein and fat because they are designed for the working dog. I recall that the company sell some low fat products for working dogs who are resting so maybe one of those would be suitable for your dog. If you would like to try one of these, perhaps you should telephone the customer services helpline.

Before you start to diet your dog, you should cut out all treats and extras. Next, be sure to weigh the dog’s food out accurately - no mugs, cups etc. Use a digital scale in 1g divisions. I’ve always had the most success at dieting my dogs by keeping the fat level below 12%. This inevitably means that the food will probably be higher in carbs but at least the dog’s appetite is sated.

Start at the lower end of the recommended daily allowance and see how it goes. If, after a week or so there is no reduction then reduce by 10%. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to weigh the food because you can work out how much less 10% is. You will need to take your dog to the vet’s or pet store on a regular basis for accurate weighing. It could take several months to get the weight off so don’t expect it to fall off all at once. Slow and steady is best.

Hi, welcome to the forum!
Diet brands are usually just advertisement and the health benefits are relatively low… there are exceptions of course but that is the usual trend.
I quote all that Dottie wrote, swap to a lower fat, non working dog kibble and weight the food.
I would also add to exercise your dog more: Labradors love to play fetch so if his/her off leash training is adequate, you can go to the park, bring the favourite toy and let the Labrador nature do the rest :slight_smile:
If your dog is still in training and you need treats for motivation, you may want to consider baking them by yourself, using 0 fat mince meat. There is an area of the forum with a few recipes for inspiration.

Thanks so much Dottie and Red Akita! Great comments.

I am currently feeding the Farmers Mix from Millies Wolfheart. Just checked their website and the ‘crude fat and oils’ in that one total 16% so I will definitely contact them about a lower fat alternative from their range. My girl does seem to enjoy their products, she has tried a few of their different flavours and almost all went down very well. (Even the one she was less keen on got eaten up, just a little more slowly than others, typical Lab!). I also put a tablespoon of their wet food in with her kibble every other meal so it’s not too dry. I could stop that or take out an equivalent amount of kibble to compensate. I used weighing scales at the start of buying this food to see how many ‘scoops’ a meal should equate to but I will now go back to using the digital scales as scoops can be less accurate, I agree.

We do still do training so I had thought for that about swapping the high value meat/processed treats for apple and carrot, but I’m interested in your idea of baking my own which would be tastier/more motivating for her. Thanks for that tip I’m going to look up the recipes now. I do already reduce meal sizes on days we do training and I will ensure that continues, a little more accurately though.

She gets a decent amount of exercise, about 2-3 hours off lead walking and some ball play per day. Which makes me think it’s food changes primarily that will have the greatest effect.

Happy to receive any more tips from anyone and I’ll keep you posted on our journey ahead!

Remember you can filter for nutrient levels on the Dog Food Directory: the Highland Mix and the Tracker Mix are the least fatty among the Millies Wolfheart products, scoring 9.2% and 9.3% respectively.

Brilliant, thanks. Hadn’t tried that filter.

Fellow Lab owner here. (26kg male adult working line neutered), & prior fed MWH…specifically I fed the Gundog mix. My dog did not have issues with excess weight on that specific food…(issues I had were wanting more initial energy & concern re dog being hungry after feeds).

Lots of advice on this thread & helpful comments, however, if I was in your position & wanting to stick with that brand I would email or telephone Mark who is joint proprietor of MWH. He is very knowledgable & genuinely helpful.

As touched on…MWH sell various foods which can be significant different when compared against each other.

Looking at your daily walk duration I can only assume it is diet &/or treats you need to fine tune rather than exercise…assuming the dog is running around & not simply walking to heel.

I didn’t see any mention of dog weight now, target weight or daily feed amount of current food.

Personally I would not top the kibble with wet…If moisture the concern feed it in a bowl with plenty of water &/or pre soak.

Stats, protein source, fat, carb & specifics of composition are relevant factors, however, sometimes some dogs do better on certain foods & less well on others. One dog can thrive on product A whilst another dog may do better on product B…even if both are on face of it decent enough foods & the dogs appear healthy & fit.

I wont add further comments as I feel Mark will be best placed to advise IF keen on sticking with MWH.

Thanks I will contact Mark. I am not fiercely loyal to the brand. I honestly thought I would have to change to something specifically branded diet or weight loss but when I learned there was a low fat option within the current range that might do the trick it seemed a sensible option. I am very open to any other suggestions. My priority is that it must be a nutritious, I don’t want to feed her anything that might end up causing any alternative health issues.

I agree it is the diet that is the issue. I have obviously been too free with the treats and food portions. I roughly measured the right amount according to the packet for her actual weight but apparently it’s better to serve up the right amount for the weight you want her to be, so I was overdoing it a little bit. Plus treats. On her walks she is mostly off lead, some running, some meandering and sniffing, some fetch with a ball. She also runs around like a mad thing with another young lab a couple of times a week. We are lucky enough to live within ten minutes walk of a park and some fields, and sometimes we drive out to some woods. I think that side of things is fine. In terms of the actual figures, she was weighed in at 30.5 kgs at the vets and the recommendation is that we get her down to 27kg. Just like in humans I expect a slow and steady approach would be best for long term weight loss success, making healthier choices and gradually reducing the volume, weighing/measuring accurately, and maintaining her exercise levels.

I’m so pleased to have all these helpful and supportive responses. Thanks everyone!

1 Like

Glad replies of some use.

Thanks for further reply - so many come on here, yield the time invested responses of others then disappear without updating.

Sure your dog may be overweight but it’s not as if it’s weighing in at 40kg.

I suggest cut back to say 2 x 250g feeds and increase the retrieving.

Not need for treats unless training/rewarding & one piece of kibble per reward is fine unless you have a particular need to reward higher to reinforce compliance (eg recall work). Everyone in your home needs to be on board !

I have fed various kibbles & other food types never had one food that causes obesity. Any changes to weigh/shape of dog have been adjusted by less food or greater exercise rather than food change. That said I am mindful that it can be more challenging to satisfy appetite & keep off weight as dogs get older. I also accept there can sometimes be health factors & that feeding a suitable food is important.

Good luck

Hello Love my lab and welcome to the forum!

Hopefully my post will not in any way cause a concern regards dieting your labrador, though I’ve long been aware that labradors have the same weighing charts (used as guidelines) for both “working” line labradors and “show” line labradors, the latter of which are invariably heavier, due to their different conformation. ie the show line labradors have their broader heads, deeper barrel chests, commonly thicker otter tails and overall are generally bigger built. By comparison the labrador working lines are sleeker and usually have a finer, and longer head and a slighter build. It might be that your labrador is of acceptable weight for the genetics she carries, and the line she comes from.

If you decide to alter her diet, another consideration, when taking into account weight specifically, is to note the usually slower metabolism of a neutered dog, resulting in a reduced ability to ‘burn’ fats quickly. It may be that if she is spayed, a slight reduction in her amount of food is all that is needed for her.

1 Like

That’s a really good point. We do practise rewarding when we see good behaviours. That’s the basis of the training we have done since she was tiny. Although it has got less and less as she has got older. She’s a pretty good girl. Those rewards tend to be what’s easily to hand which might be a biscuit, or bits of cheese or sausage, or commercial dog treats. Or, yes, our leftovers! If I make sure that those things are simply not available in the house and replace with single bits of kibble or carrot or apple then both I and others will only be able to reward with less fatty things. I can definitely think of one family member who is partial to giving more than one reward at a time!! I will have a friendly chat with them.

I’m now also thinking about kong fillings. We do give her filled Kongs - e.g. if we leave her alone, a long car journey, if we have people over for a meal. Similarly I ought to change what I fill them with for still tasty but lower fat stuff. Will do a bit of web surfing for ideas.

You’re right, it’s not like she’s HUGE. Don’t want to get things out of proportion, just want her to be healthy and get the most enjoyment out of her life.

Hi Meg. She is more ‘working’ but she has been spayed. I think you might be right though, I probably don’t need to put her on a big strict diet, just go gradual and see what effect it has. Small changes might well do the trick.

I didn’t change her diet after she was spayed so thinking about it, that may well be what has happened.

I prior considered myself able to visually identify between working/field & show lines. That changed a while back. I know of a prior overweight spayed bitch that I initially assumed was show line. More recently the owners made a decision to reduce her food intake whilst keeping her well exercised. To their huge credit she now looks & runs more like my working line Lab …I have not asked re her lineage.

Coaster, I wonder, do you think that the female labrador you mention may be from a working line, and was carrying a few extra pounds temporarily?

Love my lab, here is a link to another thread in the allaboutdogfood forum which may be helpful also :

Food Advice Please

Perhaps…She is a yellow lab but I had thought working line were mostly in blacks, (also knowing there are show line blacks). The visual differences between show and working can be quite significant but adjustments to condition and weight can change the look of a dog. So many factors…some show lines are shorter at the shoulders/withers yet my working line Lab is short. My working line Lab has a narrow head but I have seen working line blacks with a wider/thicker head as in some drakes head (should read as one word but my phone won’t allow it), lines.

The subject of show vs working lines is controversial. I know of one reputable breeder who breeds pups from show and work lines. I seem to recall reading an article suggesting changes to weight and condition in a dog could allow a dog to compete in both FT & SH if suitably conditioned. I don’t know enough about this to speak in further detail and don’t think there has been a UK dual champion for many years if at all.

Thanks, Meg, very interesting.

A slight tangent from the thread title… for which I apologise… though this article from a breeder of labradors whose dogs are both worked and shown may be of interest.

The article is called “The difficulties in breeding dual purpose Labradors” and is linked here:

1 Like

Thanks for the link…I had seen it before but struggled to find it when posting here.

Incidentally the Lab pictured in the article shares lineage with my dog.

Just a quick update for all those who helped me out with their advice. Half a kilo has gone. Vet says that’s steady progress as it does take time. I went for switching to the low fat MW food and fewer treats, reduced gradually. Seems to be working. Thanks to all for your support. We’ll carry on working towards the ultimate goal!