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Follow Max on His Weight Loss Journey

Husky Drops 25 lbs in Just Two Months

Lawrence, KS — September 24th, 2019 — When Max first came to the Lawrence Humane Society at the very end of June, along with his handsome face, shinny coat and penetrating eyes, one of the first things anyone would notice was his weight.

“I saw Max when I was first touring the new Lawrence Humane Society building,” new LHS Director of Development and Communications, Michael LaFave said. “It was a hot day, and he hadn’t been outside for long, but you could tell, he just wanted to go in and lay down. Even under his heavy coat, Max was living up to the ‘Husky’ name.”

But while Max’s extra heft may have added to his character, his 132 pounds was taking away from his health and happiness.

“Max was what you may lovingly refer to as a “coffee table” dog,” Lawrence Humane Society Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Luke Pickett said. “He had no waist line and was a 8 out of 9 on a body condition scoring chart.”

The body condition scoring chart is akin to the body mass index for humans. And the extra pounds on Max has reached a point where his owner, who loved the Siberian Husky deeply had to relinquish Max, because he simply couldn’t care for the canine any more. Max’s weight was putting the seven year old in danger of serious health problems in his not-so-distant future.

“Obesity in dogs can lead to health risks such as osteoarthritis, cancer, and bladder stones,” Dr. Pickett said. “A lean fit dog tends to be happier and more active.”

With his future at stake, Max began his weight loss journey — with the assistance of LHS staff, of course. But with his good looks and winning personality, Max was soon going to be taking his weight loss journey in a different location, a new furr-ever home!

“Our very first reaction was how beautiful he is,” said Max’s new mom, Franchesca Williams. “He has amazing eyes that are different colors and they are just so beautiful. And Max was extremely calm as we watched him interact with another dog at the Humane Society. He was just so patient. We have a young black lab and she is crazy so we wanted her to have an older dog that would play with her but also be patient with her.”

Max was the perfect fit for the Williams family, but his weight was an obvious concern.

“We noticed right away how large Max was but we didn’t realize how overweight he was,” Franchesca recalled.

Franchesca was relieved to receive weight loss advice for Max from LHS staff. And as it turns out, the secret to weight loss for a dog is no different than it is for humans.

“Shelter staff talked about giving Max healthy treats such as carrots and sweet potatoes,” Franchesca said. ” They recommended going for walks every day and not keeping food out for him to snack.”

However, keeping the snacks away from this hungry Husky was easier said than done.

“He still tries to steal food and has discovered he is strong enough to open the fridge,” Franchesca said.”The first week we had him he stole an entire roast from the refrigerator! He was so happy and I was trying to get it from him, thankfully it was a small roast, but I was so worried he would be sick. He wasn’t, he must have an iron stomach. Now, we have baby locks on the fridge.”

It was important that despite Max’s determination and resistance, that the Williams family keep the pooch on the path of his weight loss journey. As Dr. Pickett points out, obesity in animals can turn into a vicious cycle.

“Being severely overweight can be hard on joints, especially those with arthritic conditions,” Dr. Pickett said. “Obesity can tend to make a dog exercise intolerant, which can compound on the issue and further snowball the dog into a sedentary lifestyle and exacerbate the weight issue.”

The Williams stayed focus on helping Max shed the pounds, and Max wasn’t going on this journey alone.

“I am currently trying to manage my weight,” Franchesca said. “So, Max and I are on this journey together. We try and take at least two walks every single day. Sometimes that doesn’t happen but we try. Max also really enjoys playing with our other dog, Flash, and our boys.”

And then in early September, the moment of truth had arrived. Max had an appointment to visit his new vet and hit the scales for the first time since he left the shelter. Max stepped onto the scale and the numbers came to rest on 107 lbs. Max had lost 25 lbs in just two months! And the hard work is already paying dividends for the playful pup.

“Max is much more active and wants to run around the yard,” Franchesca reported. “He has a mischievous side we have seen come out much more now that he is feeling lighter and healthier.”

Instead of a cycle of snacking and repeating, Max now fills his days walking around the Williams’ pond, where he chases grasshoppers. When he’s not giving the insects a run for their money, he enjoys cuddling with the Williams’ young boys and watching Franchesca cook — just waiting for some food to drop to the floor.

But Max will have to watch his snacking and stay on track if he’s to keep lossing weight and hit his 90-100 lbs goal.

“Max’s biggest challenge is he loves carbs,” Franchesca said. “He will get on the counter if you leave any type of bread out. We have wrestled loaves of bread from him on more then one occasion.

In return for the joy Max has brought to the Williams family, the family is putting in the work to make sure Max enjoys many more years of health and happiness.

Dr. Pickett hopes Max’s weight loss journey will inspire other pet owners in Lawrence.

“Here at the shelter, we do find that most middle aged dogs that are relinquished by their owners tend to be overweight to some degree,” Dr. Pickett said. “This is a very common issue among pets.”

While Dr. Pickett endorses a weight loss regime consisting of a combination of diet and exercise, he stress the importance of consulting your pet’s veterinarian.

“Always consult your veterinarian before going on a weight loss journey with your pet,” Dr. Pickett recommended. “Your vet can help you develop a plan that may include feeding restrictions, exercise and blood work — along with an important physical examination. In fact, your vet will be able to help you determine the best path for a healthy weight loss and determine if there are underlying medical issues that may be contributing to the pets unhealthy weight gain. Remember, your veterinarian has the knowledge to help you make the right choices for your loved one and give them the best possible chance for a healthy life.”

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