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  • Writer's pictureStacey Kew

My name is Stacey and I had a fat pet.

I’ve been there, done that and I know how easy it is for our pets to gain weight and how hard it can be to get it off. A number of years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a 5 year old Golden Retriever named Kiera join our family. At the time I adopted her she was a shapely 68 pounds with an ideal body condition score of 4/9. I made the common mistake of using treats to show my love and unfortunately chose to show my love with a well known high calorie dog biscuit. Kiera would get a treat when she came in from outside, followed my requests for sit, down, etc. and just about anytime she looked at me. This over time resulted in her hour glass figure assuming a more coffee table shape and her ideal body condition score jumping a few numbers. As Golden Retrievers are prone to hypothyroidism which results in weight gain, I had her tested and when the results came back normal, I had to face the reality I had made my dog fat. Kiera went on a diet, the dog biscuits were smashed into pieces and the weight loss journey began. I, being an veterinary technician with many years experience, should, and did, know better but I still equated food with love to excess. Recently I was contacted by a former coworker for help with her dog who needed to lose weight. I was quite surprised by this request as Amie fully embraced my weight loss efforts in our clinic and made me proud as she committed herself to ensuring clients were educated about their pet's weight. And while my initial reaction to myself was “Jeez, of all people, she should know better”, I quickly realized I was certainly in no position having been in the same circumstance with Kiera. Bruin is a large sweet boy who unfortunately tore the cruciate ligament in one of his legs and required surgery. The surgeon recommended he lose 10 lbs to reduce the strain on his joints. Bruin at the time weighed 140 lbs and his surgery was a few weeks out so we had time to achieve some weight loss which would help his recovery. Bruin has had intestinal issues with certain foods and Amie had found a food he did well on and was not keen to switch to a calorie restricted diet so I developed a plan based on the food he was eating. Amie is well versed in the curse of too many treats and I knew this could not be the reason for Bruin’s weight issues, it had to be a case of too many calories in food a day. I calculated Bruin’s daily caloric needs and discovered he was receiving approximately 400 calories more a day than he should. Amie adjusted Bruin’s feeding amount and was very happy to report he lost 5 lbs when he went in for surgery. Bruins surgery went very well and at his recheck appointment Amie reported he lost another 3 lbs which is fantastic given the exercise restrictions placed on dogs following this surgery. I’ve thought a lot about Amie and Bruin and how he ended up overweight when, like me, she should have known better. And Amie did but I think to a certain degree she fell into the “big dog trap”. Bruin is a Rottweiler Cane Corso mix, two large thick breeds who weigh over 100 lbs at ideal weight. I’ve heard many clients of large dogs dismissing obesity for “big boned” and know they are often the hardest to get on weight loss programs as they see their dogs as big because they are supposed to be. While Amie certainly doesn’t fall into this group as she has achieved remarkable weight loss in a short time, I think she became a bit blind to the look and feel of an ideal body condition score. He’s a big brute, there’s no question but he still should have a waist! It is very easy to fall into the habits and views that lead our pet's to obesity, Amie and I are great examples of this. Acknowledging your pet is overweight is the first step to helping your pet get to their ideal weight. It's often a difficult step because of the guilt associated with it but until it is taken your pet will continue to be unwell, living with the disease of obesity.

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