Overweight or just under tall? That is the question some owners have to answer regarding their loved furry friend.
There is rarely a day that goes past in my veterinary life where I am not seeing or discussing “weight” about an animal with an owner (or two). Most of the discussions are about an animal being “a little bit porky” (overweight) but occasionally the discussion revolves around how the animal looks “like a sucked out lemon seed” (underweight).
This article is aimed at the members of the ‘overweight club’ rather than members of the ‘stick or scarecrow club’. I am not talking about the animal that is a little chubby or cuddly but the animal that is grossly overweight or was born with either no legs or with legs that are very small for the size of the body.
Now when I was a boy (in the dinosaur era) the family dog lived outside and played with the children after school, roamed the neighborhood with the kids and basically ate the table scraps and food our parents had given us – we shared openly with our canine mates. Our dogs only were fed once a day except for the extra food the dogs could scavenge from other kids or from food we had left lying around.
Our dogs were slim and we thought they were healthy – it was only later as a veterinarian in the 1970’s and 1980’s did I learn that our dogs were full of osteoporosis, kidney problems, were anaemic, had massive teeth problems and only lived for a fraction of the time that they now exist.
But times change – the average dog (and cat) sleep inside the house, is part of the family structure, often even sleeps on one of the beds and is a companion for one or more of the family members. These dogs are often fed top line dog food as well as the same food that we eat, and the level of exercise has decreased to where most exercise is based around jumping onto the sofa so they can get a cuddle, or walking from the lounge room to the kitchen to stand in front of the fridge so the owner knows they are hungry.
The natural consequences of being fed more often, being fed high energy foods combined with low exercise is the animal puts on weight and sooner or later someone eventually notices that the dog or cat is now “fat”.
It should be noted that not all dogs and cats are overweight and a large number are only a “smidgen” overweight – I’m not talking about the dog or cat that is only a few kilo’s overweight but more about the dog or cat that the owner needs to bring in a forklift to put the animal into the car, or the dog that jumps out of the car and leaves pawprints in the bitumen when they land.
We do see some animals that are very overweight and even the owners recognise that their loved pooch or moggy is more fat tissue than muscle tissue (sometimes the scrape marks on the belly where it rubs along the ground is a giveaway).
I often hear owners comment that they just need to increase the exercise of their animal to help lose the weight but the reality is – exercise will assist your animal to get fitter but the food they put in their mouth plays a major role in what weight the animal is.
Now if you feel you want to take your dog for a walk from Bundaberg to Childers and back every day or if you want to swim your dog from Bundaberg to Fraser island once a week then I will stand corrected – your dog will lose some weight but taking your dog or cat for an extra 15 minute walk twice a week is not going to assist the animal to lose weight.
The sad fact is that to lose weight the only answer is to regulate the food (and calories) that the animal is eating and match that food to the energy the animal is using on a daily basis – that is a long winded way of saying “If you want to lose weight then you have to regulate what you eat”!
If the only food I eat is a sugar bag of carrots every day then I will lose weight because my body cannot convert the carrots into energy and protein. If I eat a bar of chocolate every day then I will put on weight because there is more calories in chocolate that what I burn up every day.
For the owner who wants to get serious about losing the weight off their animal – help is at hand. There is a complete diet that is available for owners to use to assist the weight loss. This food is scientifically developed to supply all the nutrients your animal needs to maintain a healthy life, has the bulk to stop the dog or cat feeling hungry and has low energy level so the body will break down the fat reserves and consequently loses weight.
This food is made for dogs and cats and is produced by a leading nutritional company called Hills which we also stock here at the practice.
If you want to get serious and all the family is “on side” then please contact our staff and we will make the time for one of our vets to have a good talk with you about weight loss and any concerns. We will be able to recommend the right food and the right amount for your pet.
Pick up the phone and ring 41531399 and start your animal on the road to health and happiness