An Ill-Advised Weight-Loss Program: Bowser’s Story


Bowser was a sweet, lovable, and very fat Beagle. Instead of weighing a healthy 30 pounds, he was a whopping 50. Bowser’s veterinarian examined him in June and prescribed weight loss. It was recommended to his owner that Bowser’s food be changed to a metabolic diet, he stop receiving hourly treats, and he start exercising.

His well-meaning owner felt terrible. He hadn’t realized that Bowser was so overweight. Determined to help his canine friend get in shape, he took Bowser on a run. Unfortunately, Bowser, unlike his owner, was not a runner. He was terribly out of shape. He kept up gamely for the first mile, but somewhere in the second, he collapsed. It was, after all, June in the southern U.S.

Bowser came to our ER on a stretcher. He was panting uncontrollably, stretched out on his side. He had been vomiting, and he had severely bloody diarrhea. His belly was covered with bright red spots. The thermometer read 111 degrees.

Our emergency team jumped into action immediately. An IV catheter was placed and cooled fluids were started. A fan was pointed at Bowser, and towel-wrapped ice packs were placed along his belly and in his armpits. An oxygen mask filled with ice chips was placed over his nose.

Bloodwork showed that Bowser was already severely affected. His white blood cell count and blood sugar were low, and his blood wasn’t clotting properly. His liver and kidney values had already shot up as a result of the shock and organ damage, making his prognosis guarded. His owner was devastated. He had never intended to cause his dog any harm, and he told us to do whatever we needed to do to save his friend.

Bowser spent four days in the hospital with intensive care. He was given two plasma transfusions, many liters of fluids, and kept on antibiotics. Despite how severely he was affected, Bowser recovered. After four days, he went home with his loving and grateful owner to begin his weight loss journey at a much slower pace!


  1. Slow and steady is always best! When our English Lab/Mastiff mix was surrendered to the shelter, he weighed 119 lbs. He was 113 lbs. when we adopted him. I immediately cut way down on his food (he’d been getting 2 horse feed scoops daily — probably 10 cups of food, with very little exercise) to two cups a day, supplemented with green beans. And I stated walking him. Slowly, and not very far at first (it was May in South Carolina), gradually increasing the distance. By the last part of August, he had hit his goal of 80 lbs. He’s a beautifully trim 76.6 now, and at 12 years old and suffering from severe arthritis, he can’t go as long or far as he used to.