Whole Dog Journal's Blog October 27, 2015

Fat, Not Fair to the Dog

Posted at 09:51AM - Comments: (3)

I didn't want to get caught taking a picture of the super-obese dog; the owner's front door was open. Here is a "regular" obese dog; still way too fat.

I was walking Otto the other day when his head and tail went up and he gave a little whine – one that usually indicates that he's spotted a dog in the yard we are about to walk past. In our town, there are lots of dogs that are lying on porches or under trees in fenced yards, and when you walk by with your dog, they come flying toward the fence: some barking hysterically, some staying silent until the last terrifying moment when they hit the fence and let out a roar. Otto is as good as any dog I've ever seen about holding our course in the face of these dramatic approaches; he neither runs nor retaliates nor attempts to fight through the fence, but he usually will let out a whine of anxiety or excitement, prance a little, and (occasionally) will stop and lift a leg on the fence, and sometimes the very nose of the offending dog on the other side of the fence!

For whatever reason, the majority of front-yard fences in our town are low, just over three feet tall, so it's always worth a good look at the onrushing dog and the fence: Does he look like he could leap over, or wants to? (A few years ago, a dog leaped over one of these very low fences not a mile from where I live and attached himself to a mailman's neck, taking the poor guy to the ground. Surgery was required for the mailman; the dog didn't survive the investigation.)

On this day, however, a quick glance told me we had nothing to fear from this dog - the most obese dog I've ever seen in person. The dog was lying down – and indeed, looking like this is the dog's default position. I’ve seen photos of dogs who are fatter, but never one like this in the (abundant) flesh. So fat, I wonder if he (she?) can get up without assistance.

Just like 600-pound humans, this dog could not have gotten this obese without some help from some very co-dependent (if loving) people. It "might" be a medical issue  - the old "glandular problem" – but given that dogs can't feed themselves, it’s more likely an issue with an enabling human. But it's not much of a life for the poor dog; it's got to be uncomfortable, if not downright painful, to be this heavy. The strain on the dog's circulatory system must be considerable, and on his/her joints? Tremendous.

Few of us who have overweight dogs would allow our companions to get that freakishly fat, but the sight of the nearly immobile dog was certainly enough to make me take another look at my middle-aged pooch, and decide to take another sliver off of his portions. Going into your dog's senior years, you really want him or her to be on the thin side, for greater longevity and mobility. 

Comments (3)

We had a 13 year old foster dog which came to us weighing 33 pounds. We foster toy/mini poodles. She could barely walk. She could not stand up long enough to eat a small bowl of food. She had to be carried to the yard, her bed, and the car. To add to her problems she had a blown ACL. Funny thing at the time was that she was an extremely picky eater.

We fed her an appropriate amount, introduced her to raw produce as treats, and started her swimming. By the time the rescue vet had an opening to do surgery on her knee she had improved enough she did not need surgery. We persevered and created strengthening/stretching exercises for her.

When she left us, she loved romaine lettuce, apples, carrots, and pretty much everything. She could run. She could stand on two legs. She went from a couple of bowling balls we had to carry everywhere to a powerhouse of solid muscle weighing just over 15 pounds.

How did she get to weigh as much as she did you might wonder? It was certainly not her fault. It was not even the fault of her owner. She was the victim of Alzheimers. Her previous owner could not remember whether or not she had been fed so she continually gave her luncheon meats. The family did not want to take their mother's beloved dog away from her until the dog was far gone.

Now the mother is getting the help she needs and our foster has a new home that loves her, keeps her skinny, and smiles when runs because she can. They even take her lure coursing which she loves.

Posted by: Furrykids | October 28, 2015 8:49 AM    Report this comment

It is very sad, my dog is a little on a chunky side and doesn't really eat very much, it was her thyroid was way too low, so the minute I started the thyroid Medicine she lost 2 pounds the first 2 weeks, while eating the same amount... and my sister also had a cat that was very heavy from her thyroid so it isn't always to many treats.. but most of the time it is food, food is love to a lot of people and most of the time the owner will be chunky monkeys too

Posted by: Chag | October 27, 2015 7:21 PM    Report this comment

This really makes me angry. Our pets depend on us to do what's best for them, and feeding a dog or cat until he's overweight or obese is just mean. Our animal companions live such short lives to begin with, compared to ours, that it seems heartless and cruel to add obesity and all the diseases that come with it into the mix. Dogs and cats are natural athletes never intended to be misshapen, immobile blobs. There are no fat wolves or wild cats. For crying out loud, wake up, people!

Posted by: JanC1955 | October 27, 2015 1:07 PM    Report this comment

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