Fat, Not Fair to the Dog

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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. 

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