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Home > Pet News and Articles > Porky Pets Need Love, Not Pills

Porky Pets Need Love, Not Pills
Article By: Glenn Redmond

The Pet Industry rakes in 50 billion a year in North America alone. Gucci coats, designer beds and even fake testicles for those owners who just can't bear the post neutering look.

It all seems a bit much to me. I know Fido does not have a more peaceful nap because the tag Ralph Lauren appears on his bed. But hey, live and let live. Who am I to criticize the mania?

Well, that attitude took a big hit this week when I learned of a diet pill for pets geared to address the weight gain epidemic. Now, come on people. Have we all lost our minds?

Before you go out to pad the drug company's pockets, I'd suggest you try this revolutionary idea. Feed your pet less!!

Dogs and cats live by this motto: If you feed me, I will eat. They are not vain and will not monitor their own food intake, concerned that the clothes in the closet are getting a little tight. They do not overeat to suppress the emotional baggage of an over protective mother. They eat because we give it to them. Period. The reason for this can be found in our pet's wild ancestry.

Cats and dogs evolved as binge eaters, eating as much as they could in one sitting while it was available. This genetic imprinting has not waned with domestication, so they eat as much as we offer. As well, animals are hard-wired for longer durations of exercise than most receive. The body responds to this deficiency by lowering metabolic rates. You do not need to be a mathematician to compute the results of too many calories and slower metabolism.

Societal Norms

Obesity is a massive problem in our over-indulgent society. The concept of food as fuel has somehow been lost and we routinely cook up massive feasts with enough leftovers to feed a small army. I will devour a large plate of my mother's tasty efforts with the refusal of seconds yielding the response of "What, you didn't like it?"

We carry this view over to our pet population, unable to resist those sad puppy dog eyes begging for food, not realizing that this act of love can shorten our pet's lifespan. Complicating matters is the lack of knowledge of what an animal's healthy weight should be. Do this simple test to determine where your pet ranks.

Look at your pet from an overhead position. You should see an hour glass shape without plumpness in the abdomen or fat padding the hips, neck or chest. If your pet turns slightly, you should be able to see the outline of the ribcage just under a thin layer of fat and skin. If not, your pet should probably shed a few pounds.

Costs of Obesity

Roughly 40% of all North American pets are obese, making it the number 1 nutritional disorder seen by veterinarians today. In 2006, Pet Insurance companies paid out 14 million in claims to disorders linked to excessive poundage. The following conditions are not a comprehensive list by any means, but they are most common.

1) Orthopedic Problems. The pressure on bones and ligaments created by too much weight eventually begins to take a toll. An overworked structure makes pets more susceptible to injury even during light activity. Dogs with mild hip dysplasia that could have been controlled by diet and exercise will see their active lives cut in half.

2) Hormonal Issues. Pets that carry a spare tire are far more susceptible to diabetes, underactive thyroid, and Cushings disease, a form of animal Alzheimer's.

3) High Blood Pressure. Pets do not have concerns of mortgage payments, time restraints, and job pressures that often make our blood boil. However, they are no different than we are in escaping the risks of heart and other organ damage associated with high blood pressure caused by obesity.

4) Breathing Difficulties. Extra weight taxes the respiratory system to the max, making exercise difficult, continuing the cycle of inactivity and weight gain.

Everyday we are bombarded with ads for diet pills and weight loss formulas. Each year a new book comes out touting low carb, low fat or some other combination of foods guaranteed to shed the pounds. We seem to have an aversion to proper eating and exercise, looking for shortcuts to keep us thin. Isn't it unfair to project this insanity onto our beloved pets?

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