Round is not a shape : The Pitfalls of Pudginess / Capeway Veterinary Hospital of Fairhaven

December 6th, 2013 by capeway

DSCF1549 The blank stares, the excuses, the flat out denials. I often wonder how physicians talk about obesity with their human patients without getting looks      that could kill or threats to find another doctor. Sometimes I think I have an easier time telling an owner their pet has cancer instead of their pet is  obese. Here’s a few reason why, in my humble opinion :

1) Criticizing a pets weight is often taken as a criticism of an owners’ love and dedication. It is NEVER meant to be. I’m happy you love and care enough        about your pet to bring him/her in to see us.

2) Obesity has become so much “the norm” that people just don’t see it.

3) Fat pets are cute.

4) and unfortunately, the dietary habits of some pets reflect those of their owners.

 Here are my top 5 list of excuses for fat Fidos :

5) Fluffinator only gets a handful/scoop/cup a day.

How big is your hand? How big is your cup? Is it a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven?

4) Chub-a-licious runs around the yard all day.

Ok, I have a yard and dogs. Let me tell you what they do. Run for 5 minutes from one end to the other, then lie on the deck for the next 55 minutes.

3) My husband/ father/ mother/ brother feeds Pudge-pie too many treats/ cookies/ table scraps. Note, the spouse or family member in question is NEVER present during the exam. I’ve had parents throw their 2 year olds under the proverbial bus ” he keeps throwing things from his highchair!”  What are you feeding the kid? Big Macs?

2) “Sir oinks-a- lot is big boned.”

1) And my all time favorite  ” Jabba is just REALLY picky”.

The facts

I’m not great with statistics but it is a fact that over 50% of pet cats and dogs in this country are overweight or obese. And here’s some more math. Weighing 15% over your ideal weight means you are overweight. Weighing 30% over your ideal weight means you are obese. For a 10 lb Chihuahua , 2 to 3 extra pounds makes a huge difference!

And where I come in 

– fat pets have a higher risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Believe me, no one likes giving their pets injections daily!

– fat pets are more prone to arthritis and orthopedic problems. It’s not just Tom Brady who gets his ACL repaired. Knee surgery, often on both knees is no longer just for the athletic dogs who suffer injuries.

– fat pets have a harder time breathing. Extra weight presses on the diaphragm and compresses the lungs and airways.

– fat cats are unlucky enough to be at risk for hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver syndrome, which means the liver’s fat storage ability is overwhelmed and it fails. You can’t live without a liver.

Bottom line, lean pets live longer.


So what can the average person who works all day and has a family and busy life do?

– I believe in small steps. LITERALLY. Take a 15 minute walk with your dog everyday (not a stop and smell the roses mosey but a brisk walk). It will go by quick, I promise. Increase that by 10% each week as your pet builds aerobic stamina. That’s 4 songs on your iPod!

– substitute carrots and celery for high calorie cookies and treats. Food DOES NOT equal love. It is the reward/praise/attention pets crave. Fool Fido by even putting healthy snacks in the same cookie cabinet or container

– laser pointers and cats = FUN!

– try walking your cat on a harness. It might work and you will definitely make friends with your neighbors!

– and my least favorite : math. There is a reason that Weight Watchers works. Calories in have to be less than calories out. Weight loss diets or calorie restricted diets can help. Accurately measure food. Knowing your pets BCS or Body Condition Score and daily calorie requirement is important. Keep in mind, pet food companies often overestimate on their feeding guides because, well, they are in the market to sell pet food.

– Google pets on treadmills!

I look forward to seeing more of you out walking with your pets!

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