Yesterday I was talking to a client about their overweight pet and mentioned to her that she has complete control over how much her dog weighs. She seemed surprised by this revelation, so I thought I'd share it with everyone.
Yes, YOU are the one who determines how much your pet will weigh. Think about that for a moment. Who places the food in the bowl? Who decides to take the dog for a walk or at least let them out in the yard? Who gives the treats? Who feeds from the table? In each of these circumstances the answer is "the pet owner". And that means you. So if your dog gets too many treats, gets to large of a portion each day, or doesn't get enough exercise, who is to blame? Do you see where I'm going with this?
Yes, there are a few circumstances where there is a metabolic problem causing the weight gain. Most of the time this is related to low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), which is a diagnosable and treatable disorder. But medical conditions are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to overweight pets. So if you take away problems with a dog's metabolism, that leaves feeding and exercise, both of which are under a client's control.
Many people don't realize just how little a pet needs to eat. In fact, once a pet is spayed or neutered their metabolic requirements lower dramatically. You know the feeding guides on the package of dog or cat food? Most of those are based on an "intact" pet. If your pet has been "fixed" (spayed or neutered), he or she actually needs at least 30% LESS than that recommended amount! If your pet is particularly inactive, that requirement may go down even more. And that doesn't include treats, which can add up much faster than people realize.
So let me be very blunt for a moment. If your pet is overweight it's almost always because YOU have over-fed or under-exercised your pet (or have allowed it to happen in your family). This can be a serious health concern and lead to shorter life spans and more health problems. The fix? Talk to your vet about a good weight loss program and food. It's all up to you.