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This September marks the opening of The Tufts’ Veterinary Obesity clinic (created by the prestigious Cummings school of Veterinary medicine at Tufts University). While this is good news for the owners of obese family pets (an estimated 60% of American family pets are thought to be overweight or obese), it also makes me shake my head and sigh. You see, I’m delighted that the pet obesity issues is being addressed–our family pets should have it. However, the fact that we even need such an institution is what bothers me.
It’s bad enough that America is facing an obesity epidemic (and while I’m not obese, I ain’t exactly a size 6 either), but now our pets? Helt seriøst?
Unlike you or I, our family pets have no control over what they eat (or at least they shouldn’t–don’t get me started on the horrible idea that is free-feeding, because I will hit you with so lots of statistics from respectable authorities that your computer screen will EXPLODE). Evil-genius animals aside (one of my closest pals has a Ridgeback who is popular for breaking into refrigerators, and I don’t even want to talk about cats and their monkey paws), the only way our family pets have access to food, table scraps, treats, etc. is through us. So while it’s exceptional that enough owners have shown the interest in and desire to help slim down their pudgy, four-legged family members to warrant opening a clinic (the first of its kind, but probably not the last), I just want to yell in disappointment that this clinic is needed in the first place.
Again, I’m not exactly innocent here myself. Though the vet hasn’t said anything (yet), my corgi isn’t exactly at her “fighting weight.” She’s not obese, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt her (or that gigantic tush of hers) to lose a few pounds. And I’m trying my best to rectify this situation. I’ve changed her diet, nearly completely cut out treats (I said ALMOST–I’m not a monster), and am currently doing my darndest to get that sassy little thing some exercise. So yeah, when I’m talking about how the need for this new clinic frustrates me, I am frustrated with myself as well.
I don’t know about your pets, but my pup wasn’t born overweight or with a diagnosed glandular issue. She doesn’t take steroids–or any other medications that can cause weight get as a side effect–and she is certainly NOT complimentary fed. So if you take out all those other possibilities, whose fault is it that Loki has love-handles? Mine. And if you’ve got a porky puppy or tubby tortoiseshell, guess who’s probably to blame for that . . . .
Let’s stop this NOW. If you’ve already made some mistakes with your pet, there’s still time to reverse them–starting with consulting your vet about the healthiest and safest way to do so (crash diets are just as bad for family pets as they are for humans). If your family pets are in pretty good shape, at good weights, strive to keep them that way–don’t just rest on your laurels; pet needs change with age, variations in activity level, and even the seasons. Make a conscious decision to spare your pet from diabetes, orthopedic issues, and respiratory complications.
Food is not love, for any of us.
Let’s love our family pets and give them the best life expectancy and quality of life we can by giving them stomach rubs instead of actual bellies. Let’s give them play time with toys instead of tubbifying treats. And let’s get off our own tushes and walk with them into a healthier life.
Or you can pay the neighbor’s kid to walk the pet dog for you, whichever works.
Most of all, let’s stop the need for this country to create any other pet obesity clinics.
Who’s with me (and Loki)?