Sense a theme on Dolittler lately? It seems I just can’t keep myself from addressing the most obvious killer problem in our midst: pet obesity.

But how do you know if a pet’s fat? And just how fat denotes obesity? These are just a couple of problems I face in my daily life as someone who advocates for the best care of my individual patients.

Take the 158-pound Labrador retriever I’ve been dealing with for years now. Every year the owner arrives with his obese Lab in tow, waddling along and receiving stifled, open-mouthed gasps from everyone in attendance. 

“Can you believe that...?”

Meanwhile, the owner is in complete denial. He argues that his dog is in near-perfect condition for a large Lab. Seriously. Despite the fact that his five year-old dog is already intermittently lame, walks like a Sumo wrestler sizing up his opponent and everyone thinks he is a she for all the folds that hide his male anatomy. 

The owner’s rationale (excuse)? The dog shows display husky Labs. He only eats “this much” and “he’s solid, not fat.” 

Yeah, he feels as solid as anyone would if their skin were stretched out that much. 

Let’s face it, the dog is obese. But the owner swears he’s simply heavy and demands proof. The proof? Hmmm...

If you can’t see it before your eyes I don’t know how I’m going to help you on this one.

Nonetheless, I try. What did he look like when he was a year or two old? (My records have him at 95 lbs at his first annual). Well then, let’s call that a 3 on the body condition scoring system. And he’s now at a 5. I show him the chart I have posted in every room.

Beyond a 4, your pet is obese, I explain. 

“Well, then,” he sarcastically demurs, “I guess I’ll just have to live with an obese dog because, to me, he’s perfect.” 

How would you argue with that?