Feeding Them Fat: Its Not Fair
Posted at 12:02AM - Comments: (7)
Every so often we get a super fat dog surrendered to the shelter. I always feel sorrier for these dogs than for the thin ones; we can get a skeletal dog looking pretty healthy in a month’s time, but it takes months and months to get the super obese ones at a healthy weight. Plus, few people want the panting, exercise-intolerant couch potato-looking dogs; they end up lingering in our adoption kennels for a long time. And few of them have ever experienced anything like what must feel, in comparison to their former soft lives, like total deprivation – hard time – in the shelter environment.
We had one come through recently. This dog (seen posing with Otto) is only four years old. She’s shorter than Otto, who weighs just a hair under 70 pounds soaking wet. She weighs 110.5 pounds. She needs to be spayed before she can be adopted, and we can’t even think about scheduling the surgery until she loses 20 or so pounds; surgery on such an obese dog takes a long time – the fat just floods into the incision and obscures the tissues that need to be cut and sutured – and is considered high risk.
The dog had been surrendered by her owner, who was going into long-term care and didn’t have any friends or relatives who could take her. She had basically spent her whole life keeping this older man company on the coach, presumably eating fast food and chips and drinking beer! She was understandably heartbroken, confused, and depressed at finding herself in a hard “cell.” I fostered her for a few weeks until we found a rescue group who would take her for the long-term rehabilitation she was going to need to get healthy.
I know that some dogs become obese as a result of a thyroid condition. I suspect that in this dog’s case, and in the case of many of the fat dogs we get at the shelter, it’s simple overfeeding and lack of exercise – the super-long, sharp toenails tell us that.
The bottom line: Obesity of this degree reduces the length and quality of the dog’s life. If your dog is fat, please take steps to reduce his or her weight. Ask your veterinarian’s receptionist for a long appointment, and ask your vet for a thorough exam and discussion about what can be done. And see our past articles on low-fat diets and weight loss: