Certain problems such as hepatic lipidosis (fat infiltration
in the liver) in cats were rare in the UK until recent years,
but are becoming an increasingly common diagnosis. This
problem has long been common in the USA - the obesity centre
of the world! Other diseases sometimes associated with obesity
such as diabetes, urinary tract disorders and joint disease
are also on the increase.
Thus, when myself or my colleagues are presented with obese
animals, we invariably try to stress the importance of weight
loss. I am sure many owners get fed up of us nagging them,
but we have a duty to the pets we see to try to ensure they
are fit and well. Many owners seem to fail to understand
that they are simply not doing their pets any favours by
allowing them to remain overweight! Unfortunately, there
are many pets who continue to gain weight despite our repeated
advice to owners that weight loss is essential. Thus it
is refreshing when we find a conscientious owner who takes
our advise on board and makes a concerted effort to slim
their pet down. This week, "Tai" Stokes, a Domestic
shorthair cat, came in for his annual vaccination. Last
year he weighed in at 6.15Kg (one stone!), and was advised
that he was seriously obese. This year he had lost over
a quarter of his weight, and was down to a respectable 4.5Kg.
Mrs Stokes had reduced his rations and - more importantly,
started to feed him separately to the other cats so he couldn't
pinch their share! On the same day I also saw an arthritic
Golden Retriever who weighed a monstrous 46Kg 6 months ago.
Her owner was advised that if she didn't lose weight, she
may simply be unable to cope with her arthritis. This week
she weighed 34Kg - a tremendous achievement!
Sometimes I think owners believe we are unduly harsh on
them when their pets fail to lose weight. One thing we often
tell them is that the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
actually remove guide dogs from homes if they exceeds a
set weight, as the person is classed as an "unfit"
owner if they allow the dog to be obese.
Whilst weight loss requires perseverance, it is not impossible.
At Fairfield we have a trained Pet Health Counsellor, Sarah
Anderson, who is qualified to give advice and set weight
reduction programmes for obese pets. Any client concerned
about their pets weight is invited to call in and get their
pet's weight checked, free of charge.
Most of us are probably expecting to put a little weight
on over the festive period. Whilst we need to ensure our
pets don't follow our example, I think Tai deserves a few
extra treats this year!
Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS
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