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Monday, October 25, 2010

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Pat: The South
Bark Diet for Dogs

by Pat Bradley, DVM
Is Your Toy-Sized Dog Overweight?
Here's Help

Hello Dr Pat: 
My little Chi mix is a real porker; he is a lot overweight. Does the green been diet really work for dogs and if it does how much do I give him and how much food with it? My friend told me half and half. Is this right? 

Thank you sincerely, Gen


Dear Gen,

I commend you for your desire to help your overweight friend. We all want our dogs to be their healthy, happy best, but for many of our dogs, especially small breeds, “happiness” has become equivalent to “eating when I’m bored or upset”.  Let’s change that! 

The green bean diet can really work. They are low in calories, easy to use, and most dogs like them.  But since the appetites, preferences and metabolism of all dogs are not alike, it’s great that we have lots of choices when it comes to weight loss, and lots of information to help us make good decisions.  Here are the main strategies:

  1. Decrease overall calories:  (a) Decrease the total amount of food by a quarter or a third. (b) Feed the same amount of a lower calorie pet food. (c) Feed the same amount of a grain-free pet food. You know, the “South Bark Diet”. 
  2. Increase fiber. Fiber helps dieting tummies feel comfortably full. This is where the green beans come in. Substitute one or more of these for an equal amount of commercial food. I’d start at no more than 1/3, especially in small dogs that tend to need a higher protein level. And add a balanced multivitamin to ensure that all the basics are covered. (a) Green beans: their positive attributes are mentioned above, but to keep them from feeling too self-important, let’s mention some of the other veggies. (b)Yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, or green peas. (c) Oat or wheat bran: ¼ to ½ tsp per day for a small dog.
  3. Increase play and walks and exercise with him. We know it burns calories, but it will also increase the “feel good” chemicals in his brain, making him less likely to give you those gut-wrenching, guilt-inducing stares. 
  4. Snacks. Substitute snacks that are high in nutrition and low in calories, such as dried liver, raw carrot slices, or even our go-to friend, the green bean.

Good luck, Gen.  You’ll be delighted when you see how much better he feels!

Dr. Pat

(c) courtesy P. Bradley

Have a question for Dr. Pat? Write to
For a personal consultation about your pet's needs, visit Holistic Veterinary Services.
Dr. Pat's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian

Don't miss Tanner's commentary over dog diets at 5 Minutes for Fido. He's quite disturbed!

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Samantha said...

This is such great advice. My dogs love veggies - I've been feeding them carrots, cauliflower and green beans their whole lives. I give frozen veggies as a cool-down treat in the summer, like a Popsicle. Our rescue was a bit taken aback at first, like "What's this weird colored stuff in my kibble?" But now he snarfs them down.

So many people overfeed their pets from guilt and it's sad to see those little fatties at the dog park! Exercise is good for the little ones and their people too, so I recommend an extra walk mid-day when possible. Or a treadmill when it's raining. ;)

Thanks Carrie and Dr. Pat!

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I like th idea of frozen green beans as a 'pupsicle'. I'll be sure to use that one next summer. Very clever!

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