Beyond celery: Low-calorie "filler foods" for the dog on a diet

Short version: My dog Astrid is an 8-ish year old Finnish Lapphund and her vet says that there is a bit too much dog in the dog. As she is also the laziest herding dog I’ve ever met, a more appropriate intake to output ratio is best placed starting with input. I have reduced her kibble. However, she now eats about 2/3 of the RDA for her food*, and she’s hungry. I’m looking for healthy additives to her kibble to help her feel more full without contraindicating the whole diet thing.

This is a dog who eats grass recreationally, so I did not think this would be hard.

I tried adding diced carrots to her puzzle ball. She thinks this is a cruel joke. There is carrot all over my floor.

I’ve also added chopped green beans to her supper- this was a hit with our Goldens growing up. She isn’t sure about the green beans. She will eat them, but it requires that she take them out of her dish one by one, carry them into the living room, and eat them there. On the bright side, this does mean that she’s getting her steps in by walking back and forth.

She begs for lettuce but doesn’t actually want it once she has it. The possession is the important part.

Next on the list is diced apple.

What foods have you added to your dog’s diet to help fill them up?

*She eats Orijen Adult and will be switching to their Fit and Trim food once the pet store gets it in stock. I need to reevaluate her diet- I think that as she’s gotten older and her metabolism is changing, the Orijen may be too high protein and fat for her activity level and not high enough in fiber and carbs to help her feel full, considering the amount she eats- but I also want to check her bloodwork before we make too many changes. I have reason to believe that her current weight is primarily due to extremely effective begging in her father’s direction, and that reducing her french fry consumption by 100% will do the trick, but I’d like to make sure I know what’s going on internally.

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My dogs like kale ribs and brussel sprouts. I was surprised but they all seem to like them and several of them will beg for them.

I agree with berries being most likely to be eaten - blueberries are good for dogs.

That said, forced exercise is probably easier and will work better. It takes a long time to reduce a dog’s weight by just taking a little bit of food away.

When Astrid is done walking, she throws herself to the ground with her legs up in the air like she’s dead. You can drag her on her back for quite awhile before she gets up.

After 4 years of this I stopped pushing the whole “walk” thing. 100 yards took half an hour of throwing herself to the ground and zig zagging to sniff this one leaf in particular and generally having a snit, and this was happening twice a day. I didn’t think it was doing anybody any good to insist she go further. She must walk until she has conducted her business; walk to the nearest trash can; and then walk home. Where we play ball until she falls over.

I’m not disagreeing that she ought to be more active, but SHE is. She’s physically fine- there’s no reason she CAN’T go for walks. She just doesn’t like organized exercise. She will walk much more agreeably if she is with a friend, but COVID makes that harder to arrange. So until I can get her out hiking, for now it’s short enforced marches and a lot of ball and frisbee. I had wanted to get her started in lure coursing 2 years ago, which I think she would really like, but first broke my foot and then pandemic… that’s still on the horizon when it opens back up.

I thought we would be a good home for a herding dog because even though our backyard is not huge, I’m a runner and my idea of a nice quick relaxing afternoon walk starts around 5 miles and takes just over an hour. I thought I could certainly keep an active dog occupied- if you walk about 15 minutes from my house you hit any number of trails. My dog will only go 15 minutes under duress. So much for that.

Anyway, for now it’s a lot of ball and frisbee.

I’ll try berries. This morning’s trial run is apple slices, which she loves very much off her father’s plate. We will see if she likes them in her own.

My dogs like cucumber slices.

My mother’s dog handler used to feed cottage cheese and canned green beans at one meal daily for the fatties. Check for carbs on the dog food you feed. Stop feeding kibble, if that’s possible. Some brands are really high in carbs.

Try an obedience class so she learns to walk along side you at whatever pace you choose. Sniffing around is not allowed! I run with my Corgis. I know I have to repeat this frequently, but I’M THE BOSS. We’re doing things my way!

I know this isn’t funny but it is. Poor Astrid. Lol

Hopefully she approves of playing fetch and chasing balls.

Is she any different on trails instead of around the block? I know it isn’t possible to do every day but maybe on a day off.

Never mind I didn’t read far enough, I was chuckling at your description. I hope your foot heals up soon and you can start going on hikes soon!

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No, it’s hilarious if you’re not trying to walk her at that moment. And sometimes when you are, but she absolutely performs for a reaction, so I can’t tell her.

She likes exploring new places- we took her to the beach a few weeks ago and she made a brisk trot up and down the boardwalk, about 2 miles in just over half ah hour; and when she visits my mom, she covers that distance very happily amongst mom’s pack of hooligan dogs frolicking in a corn field. There are plenty of trails she could explore by me, but she gets so invested in throwing her tantrum on the walk over there that she then can’t admit she enjoys being there once she gets there. (There’s a lot going on in her brain and folks will have to trust me that I’m aware of and working on the psychological factors that I think contribute to hating leash walks, but some of this probably is what it is.) We have some county trails I can drive her to once they reopen- currently they are under water but I’m hoping this weekend will be feasible.

She’s a very defined personality.

Meanwhile, she’s enjoying getting apple slices and cucumber also seems to be going well.

And this morning’s ball fetching was enlivened by a SQUIRREL who chose the wrong time to linger in our yard. This dog is destined for lure coursing greatness, if we’re ever allowed out in public with others again! No squirrels were harmed in the making of this entertainment.

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I have a similar situation and my dog hated fresh or canned green beans but loves the frozen chopped ones. No idea why but worth a shot to try different versions because she’s no longer starving

We need a picture of the squirrel chasing tantrum thrower. :joy:

I’m glad the squirrel gave her some exercise and that she’s enjoying her healthy treats. My cat loves peas but I don’t if she would appreciate them.

Here she is, belly up. “I CAN’T GO ON.”

And here’s one where you can see her face. And that this isn’t a soundness issue… girlfriend can run!

@stargzng386 Funny you say that about frozen green beans. My mom’s dogs loved them and also preferred them to fresh.


Oh my goodness! That’s too much! Lol She looks like I feel some days, only much cuter with her protest :grinning:

She looks so happy in the snow… that’s a wonderful picture of her!

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Are you cooking the vegetables? My dogs will eat a variety of veggies if they are cooked.

I have a 10 year old diabetic dog who is on a strict diet due to it and needing to keep her weight at a decent level too. She also thinks she is starving but of course she isn’t.

She carries on something awful but a piece of something low carb( small meat scrap) helps her feel less tortured.

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I am not cooking the vegetables- in a highly controlled experiment of “what does she beg for at table,” fresh greens rate pleading eyes, cooked greens do not. Now, as this has not in the least translated towards what the dog actually wants to eat in her dish, maybe I should reconsider. :slight_smile:

She turns out not to be adopted because just like my husband and me, she prefers fruits over vegetables. An apple quarter in her dish for “dessert” has done the trick. She’s also OK on the subject of cucumber but would like me to know that she would prefer it with a light feta vinaigrette. Me too, kid, but I walk 10 miles a day and you lie on the couch.

On the bright side, we got a real walk done yesterday with almost no theatrics! It was only about a half an hour but she was bright, responsive, and cheerful about it. And she was totally zonked afterwards and doesn’t want to do it again. Maybe by the time we go hiking on the deer trail this weekend she’ll have forgotten.

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steamed carrots. Apples too calorie dense

My GSDs LOVE carrots, but they teethed on cold or frozen carrots as pups, so they beg for them. I wouldn’t feed too many - alot of sugar in them. Not sure if that’s also true for apples. You should look at the veggies the raw diet dogs get and use some of them. I used to feed a raw diet and would puree kale with some other veggies in a blender for their meals along with their raw meat.

Apples do have more sugars than I would like in a perfect world, but they are relatively low calorie and vitamin-rich, and a quarter of an apple per day should qualify as “moderation” for a 45- (erm… 50-) pound dog.

We continue to only want leafy greens when they fall on the floor when I’m making salad for myself. And we don’t actually want to eat them. We just wish to possess them, so that the cats cannot.

@candyappy When you say you cook your dogs vegetables- how do your dogs like them prepared? Hoopoe mentioned steamed. Is that what your dogs like? If Astrid wants to eat e.g. a little cubed squash roasted with a little pepper and herbs she’s welcome to it. Do they have particular kinds of veggies that have gone over well?

I make a supplement homemade food using whatever combo of meat, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans, peas and blueberries or apples I have on hand. It’s really easy in the Instant Pot but you could also just boil/simmer the meat and longer cook vegetables (in large chunks) and add the rest at the end. I then drain off most of the liquid and use a potato masher or blender to get the consistency I want.

My dog isn’t picky but there is no way she’d eat green beans or blueberries that weren’t meat flavored more than once. :laughing: You don’t even have to feed the meat, just use it to create a healthy broth that flavors everything else.

Any way I cook them for my family. Steamed, roasted, sautéed, boiled etc…

Carrots, green beans, zucchini/ summer squash, peas are usually what I offer if I have extra. They will eat cooked Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower or greens too. I don’t feed them pepper but mild herbs would be ok. No salt.

Mine don’t like winter squashes. They don’t get a lot of vegetables because I have 30 laying hens who get most of my leftovers.

How about beans added to meals? Black beans, I think, are realtively low in starch and high protein.