The Obese Beast

Words: Rusty Henderson, DVM Eastside Animal Clinic, Fort Smith, Ark.

Apr 1, 2015 | Pets

Many of us have been guilty of feeding Fido a little bite from the kitchen table from time to time. Some of us, however, are guilty on a daily basis. We love them like they are human, but we can’t feed them like a human. A little human food can cause extreme weight gain in our pets. It seems innocent enough, but what are the real consequences to having a full-figured canine?

The answer is quite simple. If one consumes more calories than are expended, weight gain will commence. Continue this course and in short order you will see an accumulation of excess body fat which leads to obesity. Sure, there can be other reasons for weight gain, be they medical, metabolic, or emotional. However, these can be managed using some discipline and education.

Obesity for pets is just plain uncomfortable (and from personal experience, for humans as well). When you’re fat, you can’t get truly comfortable. You don’t sleep well, you can’t run, and it’s sometimes difficult to breathe.

Consider a Pomeranian whose frame is designed to handle eight to ten pounds. If you were to add ten more pounds over five years, that tiny frame would be carrying eighteen to twenty pounds on an eight to ten-year-old body. Something is going to give. It might be the hips, the knees, or the back that goes out first. It most likely will be the heart, or the liver, or maybe the kidneys, as the cardiovascular system can’t manage the blood pressure. Another possibility is that the pancreas just throws in the towel and creates a diabetic. And to think, all of this because you loved Fido so much, you couldn’t resist just one more treat. After all, he is so cute sitting up and begging for more, right?

Obesity is very easy to avoid, can be reversed, and can be managed in a metabolically ill pet. First, however, you have to recognize it. Your pet could be considered obese if, when viewing from the top, you cannot make out a waist and or the indention between the ribs. If you look at your dachshund and all you see is a long hairy tube with a tail at one end and whiskers at the other, chances are he’s obese. If your Pug, when on its back, can’t right himself without assistance, you probably have a fat Pug.

The most important consideration is to make sure there are no medical reasons for the weight gain. Here at Eastside Animal Clinic, we can determine the cause, and have a variety of programs to help with losing and managing weight. There are also medications that can assist in this endeavor.

The first line of defense is putting weight gain and obesity in perspective for pets. Consider this: two french fries fed to a three pound poodle is equivalent to a two-hundred-pound man consuming the entire serving. So if you feed four fries to that poodle, it would be like a two-hundred-pound man eating two servings. See the issue here? This applies to other human food as well. Don’t feed your pet an entire hamburger (no, not even a small one), a bowl of ice cream, pork ribs, pizzas, etc. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it all! It’s also worth mentioning that there is a wide range of human food that is dangerous, if not deadly, for pets. Onions, meat fat, chocolate, macadamia nuts and raisins, just to name a few.

My advice is this—don’t ignore weight gain in your pet, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s cute, and don’t kill your pet with love. They may say that food is the way to the heart, but this should not apply to pets. Love them yes, but keep them healthy.

Do South Magazine

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