Mammals were not designed to sit around relentlessly popping cookies, cheese, or Snausages into their maws
Holiday parties and baked goods of all kinds, including pet biscuits lovingly formed by hand, take their toll as we feed our spirits with holiday festivities. Overindulging is one of the reasons we love holidays and we stuff ourselves to the brim with little thought for repercussions. The pets stare lustfully at our holiday food; the dog tries to steal it and the cat plans to dive bomb a party platter.
Yet mammals were not designed to sit around all day relentlessly popping cookies, cheese, or Snausages into their maws. Such holiday inactivity, combined with excessive caloric intake, throws pet and owner out of whack and mangles nature's intentions for the mammalian body.
As always, the end of the calorie-laden holidays are days away now; while wearing seriously tight pants, we stare bleakly into a frigid January as another new year creeps over the horizon. A whopping number of weight loss resolutions begin in low volume and crank up, sometimes loudly enough to actually do it. "This year I will lose those 20 pounds, plus what I gain over the holidays, and Biscuit will walk with me and I won't have to hear that lecture from my doctor or the vet." And yet the resolution is more often forgotten or blown off than resolved. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Even if pets could make New Year's resolutions, they probably wouldn't. Unlike stealing bacon, getting into bikini shape isn't their idea of a good use of time. They have far less incentive to lose weight than they do to nab your dinner. But you - you master of the universe and potentate of all you survey - you can do it! You can get you and the pet back to fighting weight!
Okay, perhaps we overestimated your incentive to make long-term lifestyle changes. But Biscuit and Precious shouldn't suffer by dragging around extra pounds. Obese pets - whether they are dogs, cats, horses, rabbits or birds - are prone to numerous weight-related diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hepatic lipidosis, respiratory issues, and arthritis, to name a few.
Plus, let's face it, you don't want to regularly spend a honkin' chunk of your paycheck at the vet to treat a preventable obesity-related disease or two when you could use that money to go to the Caribbean in February. Who wants to freeze their stones off at home with a sick pet when you could be enjoying brelly drinks on a beach? Getting your pet down to an appropriate weight is a win-win situation that will save you a bundle of bucks.
While we are responsible for our own health, or lack thereof, we at least make the decisions, consciously or not, that affect it. But the sad part is that much of that illness and the associated discomfort and vet bills are mostly preventable, so it's up to us to curtail (pun intended) any unhealthy lifestyle for our pets.
It's just like it is for people with one major exception: we give our pets their allotment of food, we take them out for exercise, and we are therefore the responsible party for their health. So unless your overweight pets help themselves out of the fridge or steal, you are the main reason they weigh more than they should. If that's the case, you are killing them with kindness, loving them to death.
So whatever your New Year's goals are for yourself, even if you don't have any, get outside and exercise your dog. Play with your cat and get him some interactive toys that will make him move. Get your rabbit a new playhouse. Ride your horse more often. Too cold to go outside? Heck, dance with them - go for it, you'll have fun.
Lessen the numbers of calories your pets eat and make them move around more to burn calories more efficiently. Your pets will live longer, be healthier, have less pain, and cost you far, far, far less in the long run. Remember, you can use the money you would have spent on Precious's diabetes on boarding while you hit a Caribbean beach in the deep freeze of February. Now that's a win-win situation!
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.