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"Tai" Successful weight watcher
Obesity is a topic which is frequently in the press. We hear reports of the increase in numbers of obese people and children over recent years, and the strains put on the NHS by the increasing need to treat diseases that are the result of obesity. Unfortunately, the rise in obesity is not restricted to people: our animal counterparts are also showing an increasing tendency towards the problem.

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!

By Geraldine Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS

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