Although over-nutrition is the number one nutritional disease in America now for dogs and cats, and although dogs that are overweight by even a small amount have a documented shortened life span of nearly 2 years, your vet may not want to tell you. Despite the increased risk of cancer, heart and lung disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more, you may be hard pressed to find a veterinarian who will diagnose this deadly disease in your pooch.
Why? you ask. Why wouldn't your family vet tell you if your furbaby is at risk? Why wouldn't she alert you to this deadly but preventable, even treatable condition?
Having spent many years in family practice, I see several reasons why your vet doesn't want to tell you.
1. You take it personally. Let's face it, if you are overweight, your dog tends to be overweight.We veterinarians are typically quite sensitive to how others feel. We don't want you to feel bad about your heavy pup or yourself. Besides, any vet who speaks up about overweight dogs has probably irritated some pet parents along the way. We don't want you to stop coming to see us. So, we quietly sit by and let you slowly kill your dog. We may make little comments about how Fido seems fluffy, or well-fed, but we don't dare use the other "F" word (fat.)
2. You don't care. This is likely the most frustrating reason for us veterinarians. Your dog has a completely preventable and treatable condition that doesn't require expensive testing or medication and you refuse to believe its a problem. It's the "He's fat and happy, doc." explanation. Really? I will agree with the "He's fat" part but happy? He may happily devour his food but will he enjoy having daily insulin injections for diabetes? Will he be happy living nearly two years less? Is he happy being too heavy to run and play? Is eating the only activity he has the ability to enjoy?
3. Size matters to you. This is more for those owners of large and giant breeds. I find that those who own Mastiffs, St. Bernards, etc like the shock value in telling people how much their dog weighs. Disregard the fact that 30 of those 180 pounds are sheer fat! It's the number that matters to these dog owners. They may say things like "His dad weighed 200, as an explanation of why their fully grown dog gained 25 pounds (of fat) last year. Was Dad fat too, I have to wonder? If your goal in life is to seek attention through your dog, then try getting you dog in physically fantastic shape Imagine the gasps of wonder when you have a 150 pound beast with rippling muscles!
4. Your vet doesn't recognize it. This one is becoming less and less common, but it still exists. Some vets just don't notice a mildly overweight pup. Its hard to miss the morbidly obese ones, but research proves that even a little extra body fat can have detrimental effects on your dog's health. Its that slow weight gain that sneaks up on you and many vets may miss this at your dog's exam if they are looking for it closely.
5. Your vet doesn't know what to do about it (or have the time to teach you.) We all know to lose weight you must cut calories and increase exercise. But how many calories should your dog eat? How much exercise? Is walking enough? (For the record, no.) Which food is best to help your dog lose weight? Do you have to worry about depriving him of nutrients? Won't he lose muscle too? Even if your vet knows the answers to these questions, your vet may not have the time to go over every detail of your pet's nutrition with you. Your vet is busy and so you are given the standard "cut calories, and walk him more" advise.
6. Your vet has given up on you. Your vet has told you every year that your dog is overweight and steadily gaining. She has warned you on the dangers. She has recommended foods and diets, and exercise plans. She has listened to your excuses and listened to you argue with your family members as to whose fault it is. What she has not heard is a commitment to change. And so she gave up on you. You may care about your dog, but not enough to do what matters. Your vet has decided that she has done everything she can. At some point in time, you as the pet parent must decide to do something that will help your dog live longer, better, and healthier. We can't do it for you.
The good news is that with expert guidance and a custom fitness plan, a healthy weight is a realistic goal for EVERY dog. And it can be done without depriving your dog of displays of your love! The fitness plan itself becomes a manifestation of your love for your best canine buddy! Call today to start showing the love!