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Why Some Pets Remain Overweight
By Patty Khuly, VMD
As if it’s not already tough enough to discuss weight loss, veterinarians get treated to a range of excuses for why their pets are tipping the scales. Broaching the "o" subject is itself an adventure, one which is commonly met with defensive postures, nervous laughs or just plain disdain.
So you can appreciate what veterinarians are up against. Here are the top ten rejoinders to my appeals for weight loss in pets.
1. But she only eats this much!
(Hold your index finger about an inch away from your thumb for visual impact.)
Why is it so hard to understand that weight gain often has little to do with the total quantity of food? Come on, we all learned about calories in versus calories out in grade school, right? If you have to feed two kibbles a day because she sleeps 24/7, then that’s what you have to do. And make her move so she can earn another. (Disclaimer: obese cats require much more conservative weight loss regimens than the "two-kibble" approach.)
2. But he’s always hungry.
Many pets will always act hungry. It’s both learned behavior and instinctual for some. Imagine that your ancestors never knew where their food was coming from. Wouldn’t it be a great adaptation to be able to fill your stomach to the ripping point so you could survive on next to nothing for the next week?
3. But food is the only thing that makes him happy.
Yeah, because there’s something very bizarre about what you consider "happy."
4. She’ll starve.
Really? Let’s conduct an experiment ...
5. I can’t bear to know that she’s suffering from hunger.
I can promise you she’s suffering already. What would you prefer, constant joint pain, or physical comfort at half your "normal" calories?
6. He’s so old already.
Another way to say this would be, "I want him to live the rest of his life fat and happy." However, he wouldn’t seem so "old" if he weren’t prematurely diseased from his obesity.
7. He refuses to walk.
Yeah, I would too if I weighed that much. It’s a lame excuse (no pun intended). There’s always a plan for pain relief, dietary management, and gradual exercise introduction.
8. Whenever she loses weight, everyone tells me she’s too thin.
And when you lose weight everyone says you look great. So when did you start listening to your mother-in-law over your veterinarian, anyway?
9. It’s my family’s fault.
OK, you may not be the one gorging her on your left over ice cream, but her obesity is still your responsibility. Call a family meeting to discuss how Princess will be in constant pain and die an early death if everyone doesn’t cooperate.
10. My pets have always been chunky and they’ve never died early.
How to prove a negative. Hmmm ...