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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pet Obesity Hits Mainstream

Today I was looking at Fox News (yes, I'm one of those) and saw an article about pet obesity in America.  My attention was grabbed by the title (Face It, Your Dog Is Fat) and I think the article was something that will be eye-opening for many pet owners.

Obesity in our pets is a rapidly growing problem, and something that every vet talks to clients about.  However, I honestly think most of my clients don't really understand the significance or severity of the problem.  Most will acknowledge that their dog or cat may need to "loose a few pounds", but I don't think that really makes much of an impression on them.  I do my best to make them aware of the potential health problems and shortened life span, but I must not be doing a very good job because few pets come back on their next checkup having lost enough weight.  Of course, I'm not the only vet with this problem, as the number of obese pets is growing, not shrinking.

The article mentions a phenomenon that most vets and veterinary staff are aware of.  Pets who are overweight very commonly have owners who are overweight.  This situation makes the conversation more difficult, as we have to be careful to only judge the pet and not the owner.  Sometimes this can make discussions awkward.  But more importantly it indicates the root of the problem, a lack of understanding of proper health and nutrition on the part of the owners.

Keep in mind, the pets don't pick which foods or how much they are fed.  This is completely in the control of the owner.

The article additionally discusses a web site that I wasn't previously familiar with, Project Pet Slim Down.  There is a lot of good information there about how to help pets loose weight, as well as charts for dogs and cats, showing what they look at various weights and body conditions.  I would encourage every owner to really take careful assessment of their pet and do something to keep them at a normal weight.

And I'm very glad that this issue is reaching beyond the vet office and being talked about in mainstream news sources.