I am taking care of my parents labs while they are gone for the month. I am using the time to get some weight off of them. They are BOTH very overweight. Not that I can brag. My dogs are in better shape than I am. Anyway. My father 'says' he feeds them 2 cups of food a day and I believe him however I have had to go over and discuss with him what size cup he is using. Once I caught him with a cup that I swore could have held a cup and a half maybe 2!! So the girls were actually getting more like 4 cups a day. So I have a real measuring cup with their food and have cut down their food. But I want to know how low can I go? Is it dangerous to go down to say a cup a day? Neither are getting much exercise at this time. I make sure they only eat out of their own dish and that the food is put up. I also make sure the counters are clear as they are no strangers to counter surfing.
Any advice to get their weight down would be appreciated as I only have a month. Oh, Raven is and Sophie is 12 with lots of arthritis, which is why I want to get the weight off so bad. These dogs keep my father happy and every time one dies a part of my father dies too so the longer I can keep the dogs alive the longer I hope my dad will live. So I want to make sure he doesn't kill them by kindness by keeping them fat. I don't know what food they are on, neither do my parents. My mother gets whatever is on sale, don't get me started. Trust me it wasn't like that when I was in the house. It looks to be some sort of Purina brand but I can't be sure as all I have to go by is the kibble.
They both have a waist but both have a barrel chest and rolls around their necks oh and of course a belly. They look related even though they aren't.
I would personally only take away a quarter cup of kibble at first and substitute green beans or other fresh vegies for the missing 1/4 cup. You don't want to take away too much or you will create garbage eating dogs.
Not knowing what your parents feed them, it is hard to say how much (cups) they should actually be getting to continue to get the correct amount of nutrients and calaries for optimal health.....the lack of exercise indicates that with a really good food you could cut it down to about a cup and 1/2 (depending on other factors such as normal weight...ie. are they big dogs or medium dogs etc. Our Murphy is long, tall, and very lean but weighs 100 lbs, Indie on the other hand tends to gain weight easily but at the most has only weighed 84 lbs....see what I mean?) BUT, with a cheaper food, they need more to get the correct amounts of what they need, hence the fear of you cutting too much out too quickly.
When the dogs go home to your parents, send home the REAL measuring cup and a case of green beans or a huge frozen bag of green beans etc......when your parents see how much better they look having lost some weight, then they'll be more likely to keep it up.
I'd start by ditching whatever food they are on a putting them on a high quality kibble if only for a month. If you can convince your parents that putting them on ___________ (insert high quality brand) food will make them healthier you have won half the battle. Bad food contributes to obesity so I reckon if you put them on something good this will really help their weight loss. I would put them on a maintenance food with controlled levels of fat and protein.
I would not cut back from 4 to 1 cup regardless of what food they are on. If they are used to getting a large food intake and that intake is suddenly cut by more than half you may find that the body goes into "starvation" mode which will actually prolong weight loss. Instead, I would cut back to 2-3 cups a day with fillers. When they are comfortable eating that amount then you could make the finally cut to 2 cups with no fillers per day.
I would also encourage some low impact exercise. As they are older dogs obviously you can't do anything vigorous. Do they like swimming? swimming is great exercise for seniors if you can convince them to get in the water. If not, I suggest some off leash walking.