I hope I am not upsetting anyone by using this reference but sometimes I feel like I am swearing when I use the word “FAT” in our clinic. Many of my clients are put off by this word seeing it as accusatory or judgmental. I find myself using gentle words like “over conditioned” or “pleasantly plump” in fear of offending (or worse yet- losing) clients.
Why do we even care to, or dare to, point out the fact that your pet is overweight? Is it even relevant? Aren’t pudgy cats cute, rolly polly pugs adorable? Shouldn’t the exam room be a gentle, judgement free zone? Cant veterinarians just focus on real health issues?
There is something called professional integrity that must be maintained in our job.If I truly believe that obesity is an animal welfare concern, NOT addressing the issue for fear of losing a client shows a lack of integrity on my part. Overweight dogs and cats face the same sort of health concerns that overweight humans do. It is well researched that obesity is linked to arthritis, diabetes, cancer, skin diseases, fatty liver disease and heart disease (to name a few). It is also well documented that obese dogs and cats live shorter lives.
If we at Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic claim to care about your pet, we must address the weight issue. So-
At Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic, July and August are Weight Awareness Months.
While we talk about and address weight issues all year long, we have decided to set two months aside to really focus our attention, educate our clients, and help those pets that need to lose weight.
*This month we will help owners understand what a normal weight is by educating you about Body Condition Scoring. Knowing that a Labrador retriever weighs 31.76 kg means little; the dog could be overweight, underweight, or in ideal body condition. Body weight should not be used in isolation.
*This month we will help pet owners understand the danger of high calorie treats. Did you know that to a 40 pound dog, a pigs ear is equivalent to a six pack of coke? We will educate you on proper treats to feed your pet.
*This month we will promote increasing your pet’s physical activity.
*This month we will do more than just sell you a bag of weight loss food. We will start you on a weight loss program called “Lose to win” to ensure that your pet is losing the appropriate amount of weight over a safe time period. We will then follow up and counsel you along. Just as you shouldn’t begin a diet or exercise program without consulting your family physician, you should consult your vet before your pet begins a special diet or exercise program. Start with an assessment. Is your pet at a healthy weight? Are there any medical conditions like thyroid problems, or heart and liver disease causing the weight gain? We can answer these questions for you.
So…the next time you hear your veterinarian say the F word in the exam room, thank him or her for dispensing with the niceties and being caring enough to suggest that you help your pet live a longer and healthier life.