Helping Obese Pets

Sheba was a beautiful Rottweiler who had a weight problem. Her family was devoted to ensuring she didn’t suffer diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer that obesity predisposed her to.

My favorite pet weight-loss story began with an unlikely pair. “Sheba” belonged to a family, but I routinely saw the father and the early-20s daughter. They had been coming to me for some time with the sweetest Rottweiler our practice has ever seen. I had been wanting to talk to them about Sheba’s weight, but there was a little stumbling block: they were both big people.

My job was to be the advocate for a pet in need, and the necessity of Sheba’s weight loss was obvious. At the same time, I knew it was going to be a delicate discussion.

One Thursday evening I finally summoned the courage and had “the talk.” Both embraced the program we suggested, we started a gradual transition to
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Prescription Diet r/d and chose Thursdays for Sheba’s monthly weigh-ins. As sometimes happens in weight-loss management, monthly weigh-ins didn’t happen, so it was Sheba’s regular semiannual visit before I saw her again.

I couldn’t believe it.

She was a shadow of her former self. It turns out that Sheba’s family was so diligent with her r/d feeding allowance that they overshot her goal weight and took her from obese to underweight. We changed her diet from r/d to w/d for weight maintenance and the family never allowed her to become overweight again.

My least favorite weight-loss story? That one is a humdinger, too! It was a Tuesday morning, and my first appointment of the day was a new patient, a Cocker spaniel named Corky. I walked into the examination room, introduced myself, then turned to pet the Cocker spaniel. There was no Cocker spaniel to be found. Instead, a hippopotamus stood on our hydraulic examination table. Corky was only three years old, but already weighed 45 pounds (he should have weighed 20). After examining Corky, I sat down with the family to discuss his extreme obesity. His owners listened, but I felt a distance between us.

I never saw them again.

I resolved that day never to have “the talk” on a first patient visit.

Veterinarians frequently have difficulty with “the talk.” Daniel Aja, D.V.M. of Hill’s Pet Nutrition says, of ubiquitous obese dogs and cats,“It reset what the norm was.”

Now we see a right-weight pet and it looks too thin to us.

Hill’s new Healthy Weight Protocol system, consists of standardized measurements and software to scientifically determine an accurate ideal weight and feeding allowance for each pet. Dr. Aja says, “What Healthy Weight Protocol did was give us a black and white tool. We’re not telling you what your pet’s ideal weight should be, the test is telling you what the weight should be.”

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), US pet obesity rates continued to rise beyond all-time highs in 2012. An APOP survey shows more than 52% of dogs and more than 58% of cats in the US were overweight or obese, equating to roughly 80 million dogs and cats.

Next Friday we will discuss Healthy Weight Protocol and the revolutionary new diet food from Hill’s, Prescription Diet Metabolic.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.

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