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- 'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite A “serpent-handling” West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.
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October 28, 2009
How to Prevent Obesity in Your Pet
Because of the flood of responses I got to yesterday’s post on The Insanity of the FDA Approved Obesity Drug for Dogs, I thought I’d start a series of follow up posts answering the many questions I got by email and in the comments here. The most common question was, Okay, so the drug is a bad idea, but what else can we do to make sure our pets don’t get or stay fat? Below is a column I once wrote for Prevention Magazine, followed by tips, which should answer the most common questions:
When I was a teenager, I came home from school one day to find L.C., my
family’s beagle, lying on the bottom shelf of our refrigerator. She was
nearly comatose and shaped like a loaf of bread. We knew L.C. had food
issues: She yowled in agony when people ate. She once swiped a
Thanksgiving turkey, dragged it out the dog door, and devoured it. She
studied us every time we opened the refrigerator. So in retrospect,
it’s no surprise she ended up inside it.
Until then, we’d controlled L.C.’s weight by rationing meals and running with her in the woods. Now we added barricading the refrigerator: table in front, chairs piled around it. But she just moved the furniture.
If L.C. were alive today, instead of buying a new fridge with a strong latch (which we did), we could have gotten her a prescription for the first-ever doggie diet drug, which the FDA approved in January. You’d think that someone who owned a dog with such a clearly unbalanced (okay, deranged) relationship with food would think this new drug is a
good idea. But I don’t. The problem behind obese dogs, even dogs like L.C., isn’t canine eating disorders; it’s people with feeding disorders.
There’s an epidemic of canine and feline obesity, just like there’s an epidemic of human obesity. Recent studies found that 35 to 60% of pets in the United States are overweight. This is no coincidence: People don’t exercise, so their dogs don’t exercise.
When people eat, they feed their pets, who gain weight right along with their owners. And given the ingredients of many pet foods, you might as well let them chow down on fast food every day. By feeding their pets junk, breeding them in overcrowded kennels where they have to fight for scraps, or abandoning them as strays who need to scrounge
or die, humans have turned the natural feeding instincts of animals into dangerous food obsessions.
We control what our pets eat. I recently found a starved stray on the interstate. I took her home and fed her. And fed her. And fed her. She ate a heaping cup of dry food in 28 seconds (I timed her). Three months later, I realized she’d gone from emaciated to pudgy. I didn’t put her on drugs; I just gave her 1/3 cup less food at each meal. Three weeks later, she wasn’t pudgy anymore.
During my years as a veterinary technician, I saw many dogs die from obesity or become paralyzed when their spines gave out. So when I see an obese dog on the street, I want to ask its owner, “You love your dog, right? Then why are you killing it?” I usually restrain myself. But the other day, I sat in my vet’s waiting room with my 17-year-old dog, whose
shoulder had just started aching from arthritis.
An enormously fat malamute waddled in with a large-bellied man holding his leash. The man plopped next to me as his dog painfully lowered himself to the floor.
“How old is he?” I asked.
“Four,” the man said. I cringed. He told me he’d spent thousands treating his dog’s arthritis and replacing his hips when they gave out. “We’ve tried everything,” he said, stroking the dog’s head.
“Oh?” I said. “Have you tried putting him on a diet?”
Here are a few tips:
If your pet is already obese, talk to your vet. There are special prescription diets designed to help pets drop a significant amount of weight, but they’re not a permanent fix. You still have to restrict the amount they eat, exercise them, etc. And once the diet is over, you’ll need to continue with practices like these below.
If your pet gains weight suddenly, or is overweight despite the fact that it doesn’t eat much, see your vet. As with humans, various medical problems can cause weight gain (like thyroid problems).
For everyone else, there are plenty of healthy ways to satisfy your pet’s food lust without making it obese:
First, if you don’t know how much to feed your pet to keep her healthy, talk with your vet. Never rely on pet-food labels. How much she needs depends on her frame, activity level, and the type of food you give her.
Never give her people food.
Avoid pet foods that list any type of sugar or by-products as ingredients. Also steer clear of preservatives (ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT).
This is the one that’s worked best for me with my dog Rhoda: Instead of feeding her from a bowl where she can inhale the food so fast, she hardly realizes she ate it, pack her meals inside a feeding toy like the <a href=”http://www.busybuddytoys.com”>Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude</a>, which releases food slowly. Her dinner will last longer, and she’ll be satisfied with less food.
Use common sense: If your pet is looking pudgy, simply feed it less and exercise it more.
In coming days I’ll post another follow up with tips on how to exercise pets (particularly when you have an indoor cat, or when the weather is too lousy to exercise outside). Stay tuned.
(Photo credit here, along with picture of very fat cat, and study showing that half of all dogs and cats in the UK are overweight … I’d be the stat is higher in the US).
22 Responses to “How to Prevent Obesity in Your Pet”
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