Pets, People, are Packing on the Pounds
We've all heard Americans are getting fatter and fatter. According to a July msnbc.com article, 75 percent of us will be deemed overweight by 2015 if we continue gaining at the current rate, with a whopping 41 percent labled obese.
But it's not just we humans who are getting plumper - our pets are on the perilous path to portliness as well. And just like for us, a dog or cat's excess weight is bad for their health, quality of life and longevity.
Daisy Duke's father-in-law, Jack, learned this lesson the hard way. He had an adored, joyful miniature poodle named Reggie. Jack would always toss Reggie a piece of whatever he was chomping on - from hot dogs, chips, and cheese to popcorn, cookies and cake. Jack's goodie-giving taught Reggie to constantly beg for food with those sad puppy eyes so many of us find hard to resist. But resist you must. Better yet, never start this bad habit, and you'll never have to worry about breaking it.
Jack never broke his habit, and after a year or so, little Reggie wasn't so little. He was a ball of fat who waddled and panted at the slightest exertion.One morning, Jack found Reggie lying dead in a hallway. The happy curly-haired pup was only 5. A dog of Reggie's size and breed has a life-span of 15 to 17 years, but Reggie's tiny heart couldn't carry the heavy load a day longer. Love - expressed through food - cut short Reggie's life and broke Jack's heart.
However, too much food isn't always the culprit in weight problems. Penny, the stray beagle I took in more than a decade ago, balooned up to a humongous 60 pounds.(A beagle should weigh about 35). My stepson's friend once said she looked like a tick fully-engorged with sucked blood. I had to laugh, as the analogy was apt.
Penny was about 6-years-old, underweight and full of fleas, ticks and mange when rescued. With proper vet care and TLC, she blossomed into a beautiful beagle. But afer a few years, she started to pack on extra pounds. Beagles are one of the breeds prone to weight problems, and hounds can be real food hogs, so my vet thought I was overfeeding her. But I wasn't. By then I had three dogs of the same weight and fed them all the same.We never fed them scraps or tossed bits of what we ate - in fact, The Boss insisted the dogs stay out of the kitchen while we ate. (Today, we've slacked off on this rule, but since we never gave table food, they ignore our eating).
Then Penny started drinking a lot more water, and as she got as big as a Macy's Parade float, I knew it was more than a food issue. The vet did blood work and found her thyroid levels were extremely low. As soon as she started thyroid medicine, she quickly lost 12 pounds and lived to 14, though she always remained a bit chubbby, as arthritis in her later years slowed her down.
So while most weight problems in pets (and people) are a result of too many calories and too little exercise, always check with your vet.If your pet needs to lose weight, make it a team project that will boost your health too - go on more walks. Also adjust your pet's diet with one of the many quality diet foods, after first checking with your vet.
How to tell if our pet has too much paunch? Look at them from above. They should have a bit of an hourglass shape, not the shape of an overstuffed sausage. You also should be able to feel their ribs easily.Remember that extra pounds place an excess burden on joints and bones, which will tarnish your pet's golden years. Fat pets also have a harder time during surgery and anesthesia and are prone to scores of other health problems.
We love to love our pets, but no one wants to love their pet to death. Remember, true love is making sure they enjoy a long, healthy and happy life.
posted by Sandy at 9/04/2007 11:31:00 PM