Dr. Becker’s blog today is on obesity and the dangers it causes. For the many of you (my readers) feeding a local diet with fresh, probably raw meat ingredients, there will be less chance of obesity. Many of you, though, have read about feeding raw and just not begun yet, for a variety of reasons. Call me for a Pet Health Consult if you are challenged about feeding a fresh food diet.
Dr. Becker quotes Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). OK – we need an association!! Let’s get it together (I say as I indulge in Holiday goodies). Since over 50% of cats and dogs are overweight, it is not surprising that “This is the first generation of pets that will not live as long as their parents. Even worse, the majority of today’s overweight pets will endure painful and expensive medical conditions – all of which can be avoided.”
Dr. Becker goes on to give calorie calculations to obtain the best weight. What a pain to do for types like me. You may want to do it. I like to test for the best weight regularly (myself and my cat), and she goes into great detail on how to do that, then tweak the diet and exercise. Knowing the calorie calculations can be very useful if you have been struggling with an overweight dog or cat. One government site gives calories for different foods. Mostly that is not needed so do not let it stop you from feeding fresh. Get several of the books I highlight or others and just get started.
Dr. Becker lists some “causes” of obesity, which I list here with my comments.
- Fat Blindness – I agree. All of us are getting used to largeness in people and animals. Also, some very furry animals (my Maine Coonish cat, for example) look fat, then we feel for the ribs they are not. Then we can delude ourselves that they are just “looking fat due to fur” and forget to actually weigh and check for body shapes.
- Treats – yes, be sure to count treats as part of your total calorie count. I need to eat a smaller meal if I have been snacking all day.
- Following feeding guidelines on the bags – But wait – hopefully you are not hurting your dog and our environment by using bags. I do agree that bags and cans say to give WAY too much. More importantly, the ingredients (cooked, processed, quality unknown even in good brands, etc) are less digestable, so often your pets want to eat more to be satisfied, and some of the chemicals may even contribute to weight gain or poor health. For people asking me how much fresh food – feed the least your pet is comfortable with that maintains weight.
- Age – yes, you may need to feed less as they age. However, if you have discovered (by keeping a journal and using the Early Warning Signs) what is needed to keep your pets totally healthy, age will not matter. Healthy dogs and cats stay as active at 15 years as they were at 4 years. If, despite your best efforts (like for myself) you have not achieved total health, you may need to feed less.
- Gender and neutering – while for the average pets it is true that male cats and neutered animals gain weight easier, healthy individuals do not follow that pattern.
- Breed – I have not paid enough attention to breeds over the years, so I will agree with Dr. Becker on this one -Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and the Labrador Retriever. I can say I do see obesity in every breed except the sight hounds.
The next section is excellent – determining weight status for your individual companion.
Basically, a healthy weight animal will have
- Ribs and spine that are easily felt
- A waist when viewed from above
- A flat abdomen (not sagging) when viewed from the side. In cats, the primordial pouch “sag” may be normal, so you need to use it as only one clue.
She then has great links to more ways to evaluate weight status.
I am sure she will cover more solutions in future articles.
My top solutions in brief are to
- Feed mostly a fresh food diet
- Keep a journal and use the Early Warning Signs.
- Feel those ribs regularly.
- Exercise a lot – find neighbor children who cannot have a pet, or 4-H ones who need a project, or girl or boy scouts who need to earn badges, or paid dog walkers/players.
- Avoid toxins than can weaken your pet, decreasing energy to burn off calories.
- Use holistic methods whenever possible to maintain health.
- do Reiki or other energy work daily, and even on the food to keep energy at the highest.
- Label food and water bowls with “thank you water for keeping_____healthy (or in good weight..etc)” This follows the work of Emoto and many other scientists about the memory of water.
- Never give up if you are struggling with weight issues. There is a modality that will reverse the weight.