How an unadoptable Labrador Retriever inspired our entrepreneurial spirit and motivated us to launch SlimDoggy.
Jack gets in shape & we build a product
We took Jack to our Vet and learned, among other things, that Jack’s ideal weight was about 85 lbs and that his 20 lb. weight loss target should be met gradually over the course of 2-4 months. We were also told that Jack should be tapered off the Prozac slowly, when we were ready to get him off the medication.To get prepared for Jack’s weight loss transformation, I combed research articles on canine metabolism and weight loss and came up with a set of formulas that I could use to estimate how much we should feed Jack so that he received adequate calories & nutrition while in weight loss mode. There is a lot of info out there, only some of which is credible and useable.
Taking into account all that we learned, I built a spreadsheet model based on the Waltham Center research and our vet’s suggestions. This allowed me to input Jack's weight and normal activity level and it calculated an estimate for Jack’s daily calorie burn. We began Jack’s exercise routine gradually, starting with short walks, then progressing to longer walks, walks with a weighted pack, and then finally running. We kept Jack’s daily feedings at between 75%-85% of his estimated calorie burn, as per our vet’s recommendation, since he was in weight loss mode. As we do with our own workout routine, we cycled “easy” and “hard” days each week so that Jack could build strength and recover properly.
Although Jack’s behavior improved markedly, we enlisted the help of a dog trainer to help us learn the skills we needed to better teach Jack leash and recall skills. He was a willing student; now that he was being properly exercised, he was in a calmer state and much more receptive to learning than before.
We noticed a slow improvement in Jacks’ weight the first three weeks. He lost about 5 lbs. during this time. We were able to taper Jack off Prozac during this period as well and if anything, his mood and behavior improved after he was off this medication.
I continued my research on calorie burning because I felt that the basic Waltham Center model was not specific enough. You can read more about the Waltham model and our modifications here.
With a few adjustments made to account for precise exercise times and intensities, we felt like we were really dialed in to Jack’s daily calorie burns and thus, his feeding requirements. His weight loss continued and by the end of 11 weeks, Jack had reached his goal and weighed 85 lbs!
Jack looked great and he became really fit. He built up his stamina so that a 5 mile run was easy for him. Now that his weight was more appropriate for his ‘frame’, he was able to stop taking the Rimadyl as he no longer exhibited any indications of joint pain.
Besides looking great and no longer needing all of those potentially harmful medications, we noticed a lot of positive changes in Jack including:
- He was much more relaxed around the house and stress free on his walks and runs.
- He was much easier to train, no doubt because he had a reduced level of ‘nervous energy’.
- He no longer panted, unless of course, after a hard workout.
- He seemed to become a very happy and healthy dog.
- He stopped drooling so much…unless in anticipation of his dinner!
At this point, we knew that our spreadsheet model was a great tool, but a tool that was only available to us. We had a feeling that we were on to something—we see so many overweight dogs each day-- but it wasn’t until we did a Google search on “dog obesity” and saw the statistics that we decided to ‘go for it’ and launch our Company.
Next: SlimDoggy is launched.