Fat Pets (Part I): A Vet's Perspective
How is it that most pets in the US are overweight? Have our tendencies towards obesity been transferred to our pets? Um…let me think…YES!
Exactly how hard is it to say, "FLUFFY! STEP AWAY FROM THE FOOD BOWL!”??
This inability on the part of my fellow Americans is an alien concept to me. Of course, it is hard to lose weight—dieting is annoying and exercise can be time-consuming. But taking away a Yorkie's food when his abdomen looks like a basketball-sized alien invader? How hard is that?
Perhaps it’s because I’m a vet, and I understand the physiological consequences of obesity. Or perhaps it’s because I have a deep-seated fear of fat well ingrained by my Western upbringing and continually reinforced by that Vogue magazine I receive every month. Who knows?
No, I’m not recommending that every bulldog acquire a Kate Moss diet—after all, champagne and cocaine are not very nutritious (was that rude?). But I usually do offer a few pointers to my patients` caretakers:
1. Ask your vet if Fido is fat. Don’t be swayed by the use of a euphemism: chunky, plump, chubby, fleshy, round, and Rubenesque all mean FAT. Vets don’t want to insult you so they might be gentle: be honest with yourself and will yourself to see through this obfuscation.
2. DON'T get directions on serving size from the back of Fido's bag of dog food. There’s a saying involving foxes and henhouses that applies here: The dog food companies want you to feed more food. I know that’s just shocking but it’s true.
3. For the love of God, buy yourself a measuring cup! Feeding consistent amounts requires special tools. As Martha says, for every job there’s a perfect tool. This is it.
4. If Fido is fat, start feeding him consistently less (remove 1/4 of his food daily). If he is still fat after about a month or two, remove another 1/4 of his food. If he gets too skinny, titrate up. (Titrate is a great word I recommend that everyone learn. Used here, it means: to fiddle with the kibble until Fido’s got a good figure.
Enjoy the process! Soon I’ll tell you how to tell if your dog is fat and why this is bad.