So let’s say you read my resolution article. You’re thinking I’m being unrealistic right? You’re feeling a little bit salty because let’s face it, 2021 also is sort of terrible. Then I start talking about making your pet lose weight like you don’t have anything else to worry about. It’s icy and you don’t really want to start walking. It is dark, it’s cold. What do I even know about it? So if you are in the group that is now gung ho and ready to roll with pet weight loss, you can just keep reading for my witty banter. If you are in the aforementioned group that is whispering unmentionables and resolving to not get your pet weighed, read on.
First, know that if you truly don’t care about pet weight loss, that is ok. The first time I tell you that your pet is overweight, just go ahead and tell me that it doesn’t bother you and that is how it is going to be. I promise I will never mention it again unless you tell me you want to talk about it. I know that we all have a priority list, and I’m not here to run yours for you (I can barely run mine!)
Second, know that although my pets are skinny (because it is high on my priority list) it is not because I don’t have my own other failures. My personal failures include my entire wardrobe, for one. My hairstyle, for two. I actually even have pet weight struggles. My toddler’s favorite activity is feeding my animals. He feeds them their food, he feeds them his food, he feeds them my food. He begs at their food storage bins to have food to feed them. They are trained to stay out of the kitchen when I ask, so he hops on down and brings his food to them while they patiently wait in the other room. When I bring my dogs to work, they clean up all food and get fed by my staff (they know who they are) incessantly.
I have the benefit of being very good at judging weight loss and gain just by petting them with my hand. I also have the benefit of a scale. Furthermore, I never really trained my dogs with treats after their very initial training. They both love a good ole’ fashioned “good dog!” so I am able to control their food intake pretty easily. On days that the kid clearly throws them 100 cheerios, I just take a quarter cup out of the dinner. So on and so forth. The reason I am fastidious about it follows.
Pets that are an ideal weight are less prone to developing arthritis. They also maintain better with less pain once arthritis is already present. Exercise also promotes strong muscles and ligaments, which decrease the strain on joints. Regular movement with less weight helps the bones, the cartilage, and the joint fluid function more effectively.
Increased fat leads to a higher workload on the heart. It also leads to more fat within the chest and abdomen which makes it harder for organs to work as efficiently. Overweight cats who stop eating are prone to developing fatty liver disease. In these situations, the body starts mobilizing fat for energy at too high of a rate to make up for what the cat isn’t eating. This in turn leads to liver failure.
Fat itself is now recognized as an inflammatory organ. This means that by just being present, excess adipose increases the amount of inflammation the body has to deal with. This leads to many types of health problems, including general immunosuppression. I often feel that people don’t understand the significance of this when I tell them. Essentially the extra fat that they carry is a ticking time bomb, and while it ticks it throws off harmful rays.
Part of the role that fat plays in cancer isn’t understood and part of it is from the inflammatory activities of fat cells. While cancer is a sad reality in far too many pets’ lives regardless of what we do, we also know that keeping pets at a lean body condition score does decrease their risk of cancer.
So trust me when I tell you that I do know the struggle. Also believe me that if you tell me you don’t care and don’t want to hear it, I won’t bring it up again for you. But also know that being truthful about pet weight (at least once) is my job because it is important to health.