Obesity - Killing them with kindness.


Obese Dog

Ushering my dog out of the veterinary hospital after the removal of a large, but non-threatening, lipoma, I was stopped in my tracks. There was a dog, a smaller breed, rolling around on the grass. I wasn’t sure I was seeing things correctly. From the top, the shape of this dog reminded of an overfilled water balloon. He was rolling around in the grass and it was a struggle for him to get up on all fours. This dog, with a healthy weight of about 25 pounds, was standing in front of me struggling to stand. He was tipping the scales at 70 pounds.

My mind shot back to a dog we had taken in at the shelter. Maddy the Basset Hound could not stand up. Needless to say she could not walk either. Her head looked more like a tick than the beginning of a dog. Inside you could see her wish. She never stopped trying to overpower her physical condition. With the help of staff and volunteers, myself included, we got her on her feet. Then family with a heart as big as Maddy, adopted her and took it from there.

For dogs, eating is instinctual. Many of them have no shut-of valve. What goes into them and how much is really up to us. Though there are underlying medical conditions, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s to name 2, that present weight gain as a side effect, healthy dogs that suffer from obesity do so at our hand. When a choice is made to substitute the hard stuff, like exercise, training and other enrichment activities, with food, it is a disservice to our pets. This is not to say that treats, natural chews and other caloric fare don’t have their place. They can be wonderful additions to a rainy day. It is simple really. A dog’s genetics and lifestyle dictate their caloric needs. If their calorie requirement is exceeded on regular basi