Author: Amy Hanchiruk
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, your overweight pet. This has to be one of the hardest conversations to have with our pet owners. How do you kindly bring up the sensitive subject of obesity when you know people are going to react one of three ways? They will be offended, surprised or they will agree. Agreeing very rarely happens. Why? Well, as owners we have a very poor perception of pet obesity. 53% of adult dogs and 55% of cats are considered to be overweight and only approximately 20% of owners will recognize this.
Unfortunately for us in the veterinary field, that means we have the challenging job of telling people this news. I know from being an owner of an overweight pet that it is hard to hear someone tell you that your loving companion is “well-rounded”. Believe me we are not doing this to be mean. In fact we are doing it because your pet can’t speak for themselves and we are their advocates. It is our job to inform you just how serious obesity is to your pet’s health.
This means letting you know that your pet will be at risk for things such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, joint disease, cancers and decreased life expectancy. Sadly there has been a study done to prove that overweight animals live 2 years less than that of an ideal weight dog. So your beloved Fido may have 2 years less time with you. Doesn’t that extra 2 years with them seem like reason enough to help them shed those extra pounds?
It was enough for me. My dog Zoey (the same one with heartworm and heart disease) was the perfect example of what extra weight can do to a dog. Her ideal weight was 45-50 lbs and at 7 years of age she ballooned up to a whopping 75 lbs! She had a bad heart and she then tore her cruciate ligament. Major surgery was required and a very serious diet plan was implemented to reduce her weight back to where it was needed to be.
She hit her target goal and maintained her ideal weight for the remainder of her life. She lived to be 12 years old with a bad heart, terrible arthritis and a wonky knee. It breaks my heart to know that she would not have lived comfortably to be 10 years old if I didn’t help to reduce her weight. I was lucky enough to help her before it was too late and I was able to watch her live out her senior years comfortably. So was the pain and struggle of her diet worth it? Most definitely!