So your dog is fat – now what?

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Image from Flickr user Andy Henry Photography.

I recently sharing a co-working space with another dog lover, so of course we end up talking about our pets. Turns out, he has a 170 pound Newfoundland.

Let me repeat that. One hundred. And seventy. Pounds. Of big, slobbery, furry dog. That’s a good forty pounds more than I weigh (okay, thirty-five pounds, but STILL).

He admits she’s overweight, and we talked for a while about some of the tools he’s using to address the issue. After speaking to him, I came upon these 5 tips to help your pet lose weight. My colleague is already doing almost everything on the list – exercise is a problem for Freya, as he doesn’t have access to a pool and she’s a typical large, lazy dog – but I really liked the article for two big reasons:

Human companions of overweight pets really do need to consult with a vet before changing their dog or cat’s lifestyle or feeding schedule. Your vet deals with these issues every day – she will be able to eliminate any potential medical causes of weight gain, like hypothyroidism, and help you formulate a plan to slim down your pet without endangering his or her health.

Weight gain may be due to behavioral issues. Just as humans can overeat or be inactive because we’re depressed, bored, or stressed, dogs and cats may gain weight because they’re understimulated, or have dominance issues with other humans or pets in our homes.

As for my new friend with the “Rubenesque” Newfie, he’s started taking her to doggie daycare once or twice a week, and substituting some of her regular dog food with green beans, on the advice of his vet.

I’m looking forward to seeing her slim down as he brings her into the office!

Five tips for renting with pets

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This is Blue, a sweet Saint Bernard girl who greeted us at one rental house we looked at.

Portland, OR, is currently the 11th tightest rental market in the US, which means that it’s getting harder for renters with pets to find landlords willing to rent to us. We all love our pets, but it’s not hard to understand why some landlords prefer petless tenants.

Having recently gone through the process of finding a new rental home with a dog and a cat, here are some tools I learned for how to win over a landlord and get the home you (and your pets) want:

Focus on rentals that want you – and your pets

There are pet-friendly rentals out there, and Portland Pooch gives you an easy way to find them. Unfortunately, most of their listings are apartments, and those of us with dogs often want a yard. Craigslist, the go-to place for rentals in most cities, lets you filter your search results to only those that accept either dogs or cats. If you are a more visual searcher, Padmapper shows you Craigslist listings on a map, and also allows you to filter out properties that don’t explicitly say they accept your pets.

Gather personal references for your furry friends

If you can’t find the perfect home for your family through pet-friendly channels, don’t despair. Many landlords can be convinced to accept a pet with references, either from your existing landlord, a roommate, or an office manager (if you’re lucky enough to work in a pet-friendly office). Call the landlord or property manager with names and phone numbers at the ready.

Put your buddy’s best paw forward

Photos and videos of your dog or cat can go a long way toward softening the heart of a pet-reticent landlord. Sending the public link to your pet’s Stayhound profile (ask me how!), can be like sending his or her resume to a prospective landlord. It doesn’t hurt if your dog was an extra on Portlandia, either.

Incentivize your new landlord

Renter’s insurance doesn’t cost much, especially if you buy it through your auto insurance company. It can cover your costs in the event your pet damages a rental property, and landlords see tenants with renter’s insurance as more responsible. If you see a rental listing you love that doesn’t mention pets, call and ask if they’ll accept pets with a refundable deposit. There’s no harm in asking, and letting the landlord know you’re willing to put down a deposit can only work in your favor. What worked for me was offering to sign a long-term lease – landlords and property managers incur costs when they “turn” a property. Making it clear that you’re in it for the long haul will make you a much more appealing tenant.

Use your network

Asking your Stayhound network for recommendations of pet-friendly rentals could turn up your future home! Who better to rent from than another pet lover?

In case you were wondering, here’s my adorable new home – it has a tiny yard, just enough for Jake to do his business, but not enough to be a chore to mow. Wish me luck with my move!

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Photo courtesy 24/7 Properties – Hi Jeff!

Does your dog have a security blanket?

Littlefriend

I came across this cute little guy yesterday and had to snap a photo. I know a few dogs who carry around their toys or favorite blankets on a daily basis, and I found myself wondering if we’re anthropomorphizing this behavior, or if dogs really get comfort from their “wubbies” and “babies”.

What do you think? Come weigh in on our Facebook page – and share a photo of your pup with his or her little friend!