Tag Archives: obesity prevention

Pet obesity

October 12th is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day in the USA.  Pet obesity is a ‘first world’ problem; I often see dogs in my practice that are overweight or obese.

This handy obesity chart gives you an idea of how to score your dog’s (and cat’s) body condition:

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A vet check is always advisable before starting your dog on a weight loss programme.  In my experience, weight loss isn’t just about dietary changes.  Massage and stretching combined with exercise can help your dog feel  better and move more freely – meaning more calories are burned to assist with any reduction in food intake.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The State of Pet Health in 2013 – The Banfield Report

As most of my regular readers know, I’m passionate about holistic health for our dogs. It helps, though, when we have statistics like the Banfield State of Pet Health Report 2013 to show us the ailments that are more common. In this report, we see that obesity and dental health are 2 major problems.

So ask yourself honestly – is my dog a bit heavier than he/she should be? Is the dog’s bad breath a sign of something more sinister? Through my practice, I can help dogs with both conditions (plus others, like arthritis).

Get in touch!

No Dog About It Blog

Chihuahua Wearing EyeglassesLast year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.

In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
  • Large breeds reach their senior…

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Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.