Why is it hard to talk about fat pets?

angry pet owner, pet owner denying pet's obesityIt’s not just me or Dr. Jed–it’s every vet I know. As soon as we mention that Fido is getting a little thick around the middle, our pet owners who seconds ago loved us now stare at us with hatred and resentment in their eyes!

Why is it so hard to talk to pet owners about keeping their pets a reasonable weight?

From dog to hog, from rabbit to cat,
Most pets I treat are relentlessly fat.

True, I have my clients that are happy to hear this and work towards their pet’s optimum weight, but they are in the minority.  Not sure if your pet is overweight? Ask a vet!

Today, as obesity in people is unanimously recognized as being dangerous for our heart, liver, kidney, joints, why isn’t obesity in pets given that same recognition, that same warning?

fat dog, chihuahua, obese chihuahua, obese dog

This Chihuahua needs more than a StairMaster

Barring medical causes of weight gain and decreased metabolism, pet obesity is something that pet owners actually have control over.  If I had someone determining when and how much I ate, I am sure I would be much more fit than I am.  Why don’t more pet owners realize this?  Food is not love!

I once had a 42 pound dachshund as a patient.  He was so sweet, and I loved his parents, but they wouldn’t do anything about his weight.  His belly dragged the ground.  When he died, he couldn’t even walk.  In the world were we have control over very little, this is something pet owners should take charge of!

If your vet tells you that Fido is overweight, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job!  We usually have at least one pet on a diet.
Is there a better way to approach the topic?  Let us know! This vet needs your input as to what the best “weigh” to talk to pet owners about when Fido the pooch develops, well, more than a pooch.

Dr. Laci

SIGNATURE DVM

Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM


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One Comment

November 16, 2012 at 03:37
 

Yeah, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? I can see how the owner immediately becomes defensive, how they feel you’re saying they’re not taking good care of their dog…

When we struggled with Jasmine’s weight some time back, I wasn’t happy hearing it either. BUT I understood that getting under control was in her best interest.

So I think education is an important step.

As far as for breaking the news, I guess you might get the best result putting it in a positive way.

E.g. Fido looks very happy and I see you take great care of him. Did you know, that if Fido could lose x pounds, you could extend his life and make his life even better?

Kind of as if you’re sharing some deep secret with them, because they’re so good.

No idea whether this will work better, but that’s what I would try.