The opening paragraph of a Paws 2 Care Coalition blog states, “Canine obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems seen in dogs today. As with people, obesity can lead to a variety of diseases, disorders and other complications in dogs. In a 2008 study, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 44% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese.”
That was in 2008…4 years ago. I can assure you from the pups waddling into our store, that number has not gone down. For those of you that have been with Active Paws over the years you know that I am nothing short of passionate about your pooch’s weight. While I struggle with my own food demons, the svelte waistline of my own dogs and those that I care for, comes first.
And, much like with you and I, a trim figure on your pup is not just about looks. It’s about internal health, and ensuring that the internal organs are not working harder than they have to:
Just as diabetes and heart disease are more common in people who are obese, these diseases also are more common in overweight animals. The average cost of veterinary care for a diabetic dog or cat in 2011 was more than $900, according to Petplan USA, a pet insurance company. Treatment for arthritis and cruciate ligament tears, which can be caused by the strain of an overweight frame that weakens joints, especially in dogs, cost pet owners an average of $2,000.
The New York Times blog post, “Paying the Price of a Fat Pet,” continues:
Some of the most popular breeds – golden retrievers, German shepherds, Yorkshire terriers – are susceptible to orthopedic problems for genetic reasons, but these problems occur earlier and more severely with pets that are overweight, said Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan. Dr. Benson said it is not uncommon to see dogs that are rendered practically immobile by a combination of weight and joint or bone issues.
There are a multitude of reasons why I care so much about your dog’s weight, but the most selfish and obvious is; if your dog is not healthy and able to join in our services, then we won’t get to share in your pet’s lives. For the past 9 years I have spent countless hours with your animals. Yes, because it’s my job, but more because I like it. May I ask that you not prematurely take that away from me? May I also ask that you help reduce the number of pets that I see suffering from weight and nutritional-related issues? I know first hand how tough it is to lose a pet, for me it’s worse than losing a human. When you’re a pet care provider, these pets become an extension of your own little family. Inevitably, we end up losing several friends throughout the year. It’s emotionally devastating.
Ok, so you’re now looking at Max or Fluffy and wondering, would Cara think he’s fat? You can blame it on their coat, their breed, whatever you choose, but bottom line if your pooch doesn’t have a tuck and I can’t feel their ribs even after my fingers have found skin, then your pooch is porky.
Still not sure? Compare your pup to this visual guide:
And yes, kitties can be fatties too. Here’s a visual guide for you kitty owners:
So what now? You’ve admitted reluctantly to yourself that your pup pal might fail the Cara fat test. You know that while you’re only feeding what the bag says, you have fallen victim to “that look” and given more than you know your dog needs. You know the look I’m talking about. And now Max has had one too many “last bite of my sub” or “just a taste of the potato chip” or the last bite of breakfast sandwich. You may feel all warm and fuzzy and tell yourself you spoil your dog too much when your dog joyfully gobbles up your food, but in the end, you are causing more harm than good with that two seconds of pleasure your dog just had.
The Pounds for Pups Challenge
I want to challenge my clients, customers and even my employee’s dogs to well, a challenge! Bring your dog into Active Paws Pet Supply and join the Pounds for Pups Challenge. We have purchased a doggie scale, and will set up files in the store where we will take before and after pictures, do weigh-ins and personally design nutritional and exercise programs to whittle down the waddle in your dog’s step.
The first 20 cases are free. Each additional case will be just $10, and we’re not keeping a cent. The whole reason for the name is because for every pound your dogs loose, and every dollar that comes from anyone signing their dog up, we will donate that money to a local shelter.
While your dogs are loosing weight, another dog will have a chance of a more comfortable life through our donations. It’s a win-win for everyone; Max trades in his tubed body shape for a tucked tummy, and a homeless hound gets a nice bed to sleep on or a better chance to be marketed to a loving home.
So let’s get started. Come in, ask how it will work, and sign up. Again: first 20 pups are free, and we’ll donate the cash equivalent to the pounds those pups lose.
Um, like the idea, but thinking Nick Morville may have to pass on this one… at under 6 lbs, he’s a little bundle of perfection as is. Good luck to everyone else!