11/11/2011 2:40 PM ET|
What your fat pet is costing you
About half of our furry friends weigh too much, and their vet bills are likely to be hefty as well. Slimming down could extend your pet's life and save you money.
I was deeply offended when the vet said our dog was getting fat.
It's true his trim little waist had disappeared soon after he joined our household. But he certainly hadn't broadened out into the fur-covered coffee tables that our friends' golden retrievers had become.
"He's still a puppy," I protested, though he was nearly 2. "He's a growing dog."
The vet wisely didn't respond, "Yes, he's growing sideways." Instead, she suggested I feel his ribs.
I tried. I couldn't. Point taken.
Half of our dogs and cats are overweight, according to the latest Association for Pet Obesity Prevention study, and one in five is obese, with a body weight 30% or more above normal.
We may think our portly pets are cute, but vets tell us we're setting them up for a host of weight-related diseases and conditions, including:
- Arthritis and other joint problems.
- Disc disease and other back problems.
- Torn and ruptured ligaments.
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney disease.
- Liver inflammation.
- Lipomas (fat tumors).
Weight issues can shorten our pets' lives, and they cost us tens of millions of dollars in unnecessary pet bills every year, said veterinarian Ernie Ward, one of the association's founders.
"People come to me complaining about the high cost of veterinary care," Ward said, "and I tell them, 'Look no farther than the food bowl.'"
No one has done a definitive study of exactly how much fat pets cost their owners -- unlike the studies done about obese adults, which I covered in "What being fat is costing you." But Veterinary Pet Insurance, or VPI, the largest pet insurer and one that processes 1.1 million claims a year, estimates the nine most common weight-related diseases and problems cost its policyholders more than $28 million last year.
Not all of the conditions VPI tracked are exclusively weight-related. Just as you can have a normal-weight human diabetic, you can have a normal-weight animal diabetic. But you also should consider that VPI-covered pets constitute only one half of 1% of all U.S. pets. (Only about 1% of pets have medical insurance, and VPI has about half of that market.) So the real toll of weight-related vet costs actually could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
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That is a very ignorant comment, and unfortunately one that I hear all too often being in the pet grooming industry. Pets have a very high tolerance for pain, or at least in showing it. As a groomer, I have the opportunity to feel your pets whole body, see how they react to different actions, and judge what condition of health they are in. Overweight and obese pets are coming in at merely 6 years old already aching, crying over picking up a back leg to clip their nails because the extra weight they are carrying is causing pain to their back, joints, or other legs. It is also more difficult for these pets to go through the grooming process because we need them to stand to do the majority of our work, and most of these overweight pets keep collapsing on the table and can't simply hold themselves up for 30 minutes. On the other side, I see pets coming in at age 15-17 years that are at normal weight, and give us less troubles in grooming than a pet half their age and that is overweight.
Your pet is not completely "happy". I think it is ridiculous for someone to say that spoiling them is the only way their pet can be happy. There are ways to spoil your pet other than allowing them to have 2 seconds of joy eating a french fry, or taking 10 seconds to chow down on a huge pile of food. Take them on a walk, or for a ride in the car. If you have a boat, buy them a life vest and take them on the boat. All of those things are much more exciting for your pet, and memorable than eating people food, or too much food. I'm really sick of hearing that excuse of spoiling pets with food and "so what, they are happy". It's disgusting. And as someone who deals day in and day out with overweight pets and clients that say the same uneducated response, I can tell you that you are wrong. They aren't happy. They are in pain, and they can just mask it well. I see it, other groomers see it, vets see it, and the one person they live with can't even see it because they are too busy shoving unnecessary food down their pets throats instead of playing with them. Grow up.
Sigh.., I get so tired of hearing our animal friends & our concern for them being compared to the poor kids of the world. At least the pet we come home to isn't going to grow-up to terrorize us. They deserve to be cared for!
Of course this is primarily about fat dogs. I see them all the time. The owners, including my significant other, just can't stop shoveling food into their pets face. It drives me crazy. What your dog wants the most is time with you.
Lorax, No, dogs are not cheap animals to keep. I saw an article that quoted $1200 per year on average. I don't know how so many people can afford them. They take alot of training, socializing and care and I think there are alot of people that have dogs that shouldn't.
The animal in the carraige could be elderly and the owner wishes for them to still be able to get out of the house and enjoy the world a bit.
I know from experience how very valuable this time can be.
I had a little dog that lived to be almost 18 years old. He passed away in January of 2007. The summer of 2007 was "stroller time". His little body was wearing out. He could see. Hear some and was in no known pain but his legs were starting to slide to the side when he walked for to long. (common in old dogs).
I still have that silly looking stroller folded up in the garage. I hope my dogs now will live long enough to ride someday as well.
A good pet owner is an informed pet owner. Groomer JD, it sounds like you are a very professional person who takes his/her job seriously and who genuinely cares about the well being of his/her 4-legged clients.
Too Fat is not good. True.
But..... Since this article is choosing to take a FINACIAL stance allow me to say keeping them fit is not cheap.
I have two Toy Australian Shepherds (Yes they DO really exist. Yes they are ALL Aussie . Yes they are as awesome as they sound) that require multiple dog park passes (so they don't get bored) Gas to haul them to these parks every day. (sometimes twice) Toys, toys, toys. Agilty classes and frisbee club fees. I LOVE it. Not complaining. It's my thing.
On Sept. 25th my female "hip-checked" my male into the fencing of a park where a wire cut his side open. O-P-E-N-OPEN! It was a Sunday night and $840.12 later..... he is fine and at full speed again like nothing happened.
Two vets have told me with very honest tone that my dogs are the healthiest, strongest little dogs either one of them have EVER seen.
No surprise there. I WORKED at it. Time, Energy (instead of a nice part-time job filling my time and checking account-I'm at the park with the doggies) MONEY.
Please keep your pets fit but be ready to pay into it.
Just sayin' ........ ;)
All I'm saying is doesn't have to be that way. But I can't tell you how to parent your pet, just educate you (which clearly you have no concern or education on how to properly feed Fido). It's your vet bills, your lost time with your pet, and your regret in the future. Enjoy your sausage.
Thank you 2Pennies. I appreciate your compliment. I just want pets to live a long and happy life!
Let them run! They're not supposed to lay around all day or even be limited to leash walks. My dogs and I go on trail walks daily and while I walk quickly, they run, smell, and do "what they have to" so it works out well and they never roam too far away from me. If you don't live near a safe place like I do take them to the dog park. Even large enclosed yards, like ours, get boring for the dogs. I probably wouldn't be as motivated to exercise as much as I do if it weren't for my dogs so we all win!
I show my Sheltie in obedience, and she is kept slender to help protect her legs and body when she jumps. I feed her a high quality dog food, one you will NOT find in a regular supermarket. Because people are used to seeing fat dogs, they think my dog is starving to death. She definitely is not. She is in excellent health, and never have been allowed to get fat, she is younger than her seven years.
I know someone at some time is going to "report" me to the ASPCA because they do not know the difference between too fat and just right. My Sheltie is only 14" at the shoulder but weighs 18 pounds because a lot of repeats of a certain utility exercise element, she has developed muscle. Woe to the person who thinks my Sheltie is too thin. You can still grab fat on her while still being able to easily feel her ribs. She gets half a cup of dry kibble in the morning and another half cup in the evening.
I HAVE 3 DOGS..BEING ON DISABILITY THEY KEEP MY SANITY..OUR DOGS HAVE IT MADE..FREE ROOM AND BOARD..FREE MEDICAL..AND THEY GET TO TRAVEL..THEY HAVE LAWS THAT PROTECT THEM AND CHECK GUIDE LINES FOR PET FOOD
THEY HAVE IT BETTER THAN WE DO
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