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Debbie Connolly Bites Back

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To order Debbie Connolly's new book click Better Dog Behaviour 
To read the review click the title highlighted in orange.


 Fat Pets

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How many times have I told off a pet owner for having a pet whose neck is bigger than their head and heard "oh but he hardly eats anything!" If that was true the pet would be thin.
Pets are fat because they eat too much, it isn't because they eat "just a tiny bit" of something. Pets don't go to the shops on their own, they don't have jobs or take part in surveys so the only person over feeding them is YOU. They don't get their own dinner ready or shoplift snacks from the local store. They don't have a hidden stash that they get out when you are in bed for a midnight feast. So there's nobody else to blame but you.
When pets are neutered it often slows their metabolism so the usual amount of food is too much. Some dogs seem to survive on literally a handful of food a day. Neutering does not make them fat, food does. If you stopped feeding your neutered pet would it stay fat? Or would it get thin and die? If your pet is a good weight and healthy then that is the right amount. They don't think you are an evil person for only giving them small amounts so get over it.
Owners often say "but he looks at me so sadly". No he doesn't, that's just you imagining how sorry he is and he then reacts to your body language. If you really can't stop overfeeding your pet you need help, seriously. You have some sort of emotional problem that stops you from imposing safe rules and you worry too much your pet will hate you. That's not right.
One lady I know was warned repeatedly that her terrier was seriously overweight. At just 2 years old he was huge and instead of a mad, racing terrier loving life and investigating holes, she had a young dog that couldn't even chase a ball. Most of his life was spent pottering about panting, he had no quality of life. By 3 years old he had joint problems and was on medication and despite being told she was killing him, she just couldn't stop it. The dog died from heart failure at just 5 years of age. She had the audacity to cry.
You have to admit to your own failings as an owner. Is your pet spoilt? Do you have problems disciplining your kids or does your partner walk all over you? Do you comfort eat yourself? A lot of owners with overweight pets are seriously overweight themselves. Some say that having a fat pet makes them feel more normal. What? YOU have a choice, your pet doesn't. Affecting your pet's health is a selfish decision, not a measure of love. If the solution to your pet's weight issues is your issues, then deal with them.
Sudden weight gain or loss in an animal can be a sign of serious illness and should always be investigated by a vet. Thyroid problems, Cushing's disease, organ failure and lots more can cause those symptoms.
There are lots of commercial light diets and even light treats on the market so the pet can have a bit more bulk but not the calories. This is a waste of time though if you keep filling it up with treats or sharing your food with it. You have to be firm and set proper boundaries. For reasons of manners and respect never mind health, your pet should not be eating every time you do. If your cat or dog sits over you drooling, it isn't hungry, it's spoilt and it won't start hating you if you grow up and put your foot down and send it away.
If you went out for a meal and the other diners pulled their chairs to your table and asked for food and stared at you all the way through the meal would you give them some? Would you imagine they would like you more if you did give them some? Of course not so why do it with your pet?



* To read previous articles, please click on titles highlighted in orange above.

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