Blog the Change: How can YOU Help Fight Pet Obesity?

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BlogtheChangeWe’re joining the Blog the Change for Animals Blog Hop today. The purpose of this Hop is to: “Join Team BtC and others who care about animals in need by writing about your favorite animal-related cause, reading posts, leaving comments, and sharing on your favorite social networks!”

 

Here at SlimDoggy, we write about canine health & fitness – that’s our main focus. One of our other favorite topics is seniors as we have adopted senior pets throughout the last five years. Our last Blog the Change post was about seniors and what YOU could do for them to give them a healthy life. This time around, we wanted to get back to our core message – canine health & fitness and most importantly, fighting pet obesity.

 

Many of you who read our Blog are already well aware of the dangers of an overweight pet — the health issues, the shortened life span, the medical expenses etc. Our challenge is to get that message to the folks who refuse to see that their pet is in danger and say: “She’s not fat” or “He just loves to eat”.  It’s hard to tell your friend their dog needs to lose weight, and even if you did, they might not take you seriously.

 

In thinking about how to spread that message beyond this community, we realized that one source of advice that those ‘fat-deniers’ MIGHT take seriously is their veterinarian. All too often, vets hesitate to bring up the issue of weight as they don’t want to offend their clients or cause friction and let’s be honest, some vets have arrangements with food companies and don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. There is a potential conflict of interest – not with ALL vets mind you, but some.

DogFatteh

We decided that our goal for Blog the Change would be to recruit YOU, our readers, who are already conscientious and careful about their pets diet & nutrition and have you enlist your veterinarian in the fight against pet obesity. We recognize the fact that they are one source that their clients might listen to and so our goal is to provide them with whatever information we can to help them craft a helpful & powerful message to their overweight patients. We know that they are busy everyday saving pets lives, or making their patients healthier, so let’s do some of the leg work for them!

 

As part of our Be the Change for Animals effort, we are asking  that you:

  1. Talk to your vet, ask them if they speak out to their patients with overweight pets and what advice they give to them.
  2. Find out what the typical response is when they tell pet owners that their pet needs to lose weight.
  3. Arm them the statistics on pet obesity (print out our Pet Obesity Infographic and give it to them) or just refer them to our blog.
  4. Refer them to Association for Pet Obesity Prevention for more data regarding the effects of pet obesity.
  5. Point them to sites like DogTread or FitPaws for exercise equipment or to sites like K9FitClub for canine exercise classes.
  6. Ask them about the foods they recommend and refer them to SlimDoggy App  for insight on healthy foods and calorie amounts so they can teach their clients proper serving amounts.
  7. Tell them about PetsMove.Org and encourage them to tell their patients to enroll.
  8. ENLIST THEM IN THE FIGHT AGAINST PET OBESITY!

 

One of the biggest gaps we aim to fill is accurate knowledge about food portions and how to look for healthy dog food ingredients. Our Blog regularly addresses the good and the bad of dog foods and ingredients, the food database in our App (and soon to be published food guide on our site) provides calories, ingredients and rankings on over 2,000 foods and the App is now  available in a FREE version.

 

slimdoggy scoop

To help our vets raise awareness of the importance of measuring your dog’s food, we will give away a SlimDoggy measuring cup to every veterinarian who asks for one! Just email us or put it in the comments.

 

Please post comments on your vet’s feedback.  We are very interested in hearing and sharing this valuable information.

 

We’re joining the Blog the Change for Animals Blog Hop. Support your favorite cause, shelter, foster or friend. No matter what cause you choose:

  • Make a fresh commitment to act on behalf of animals
  • Inspire others to do the same
  • Spread the word

 

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28 Comments

  1. This is a great idea!
    The vet isn’t a place we like to visit very often, but I will be sure to mention this during the next visit! You’re right – vets have an opinion that’s almost always taken seriously.
    Another good resource I’ve seen locally is staff at the boutique/specialty pet food stores. Not huge chains so much, but smaller franchises and independents – they’ll tell you how it is and give good nutritional advice on how to get your dog to a more ideal weight.
    Granted, the bulk of pet owners probably still shop at the bigger stores that don’t have such a specialized focus, but even I am noticing the trend switch, even if only slowly.
    Jen K recently posted…BtC4A: Local Wildlife Rescue & RehabilitationMy Profile

    • You are right, those smaller pet shops usually sell higher quality food too.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-15-14My Profile

  2. What a terrific idea! In our case, our vet is already tuned in. My mom took her dog to the same vet and I well remember the heated discussions about her dog’s weight problem.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Factory Farming | Blog the ChangeMy Profile

  3. Awesome idea. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a veterinarian that takes the time to talk with all of my overweight pet owners about their pets weight and try and create a plan to help them. If you don’t mind I’ll answer some of these questions here:

    Talk to your vet, ask them if they speak out to their patients with overweight pets and what advice they give to them.

    – I do speak to my pet owners about their pet’s weight. Generally we start by talking about feeling their pets ribs, looking for a waist, and other ways they can see that their pet is overweight. Sometimes getting the owner’s buy-in that their pet has an issue is the biggest hurdle. Our standard of what is a “normal” weight has shifted since so many pets are overweight. Many pet owners I see whose dogs are a normal weight, tell me that other pet owners tell them their are too skinny! Then we talk about what the pet is actually eating and make a general plan to feed an appropriate amount (and stop free feeding if it is going on) increase exercise, decrease treats, and recheck the pet in 1 month to see what kind of progress we’re making and adjust our plan accordingly. At that second visit I give them a more detailed, customized diet plan for their pet.

    Find out what the typical response is when they tell pet owners that their pet needs to lose weight.

    – Its a mix, some people tell me they know or knew their pet needs to loose weight and they start talking about some of their hurdles – often another person in the house they can’t convince of the importance of not sneaking them table scraps. The second most common reaction is “but I’m doing everything right” (ie, “but I don’t feed them that much” and “we go out on several walks a day”). My usual response is that something that may work for one dog might not for another, just like people every dog’s metabolism and calorie needs are a little difference, we have to find what works for their individual pet. We also often talk about testing for hypothyroidism, cushing’s disease, or other diseases that can sometimes play a role.

    Arm them the statistics on pet obesity (print out our Pet Obesity Infographic and give it to them) or just refer them to our blog.

    – Got it! Love following your blog.

    Refer them to Association for Pet Obesity Prevention for more data regarding the effects of pet obesity.

    – Love this website, and Dr. Ernie Ward’s book Chow Hounds.

    Point them to sites like DogTread or FitPaws for exercise equipment or to sites like K9FitClub for canine exercise classes.

    – Oooh I didn’t know about these yet, will definitely check them out.

    Ask them about the foods they recommend and refer them to SlimDoggy App for insight on healthy foods and calorie amounts so they can teach their clients proper serving amounts.

    – Often we start with the food the pet is on to make the process easier for owners. Trying to change their exercise, treat, and feeding routines while trying to switch slowly onto a new diet tends to be pretty tricky. However, if the pet has trouble losing weight on that food despite increase in exercise and cutting out treats, it’s a good motivator for owners to switch to a more appropriate diet. For obese pets we often talk about prescription diet foods because they are more fortified than over the counter foods so I can restrict calories more if I need to without compromising the pet’s micronutrients. We also are having some success with Hill’s metabolic diet which helps actually improve the pet’s metabolism.

    I have the slimdoggy app but have had trouble finding a way to get a login to check it out more in depth. Maybe a little help figuring out how to sign up? Do I have to have a slimdoggy consultation first?

    Tell them about PetsMove.Org and encourage them to tell their patients to enroll.

    – Could you tell me more about what kind of veterinary oversight is included in petsmove? My concern is that many overweight patients have underlying issues including arthritis, knee issues, and heart disease that require more customized exercise plans. I’d love to hear more about what kind of experience my clients will have on the site.
    VetChangesWorld recently posted…Vetting the Change – Be The Change Blog HopMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for the very detailed response! Thanks for sharing your experiences in dealing with pet owners regarding proper weight. We have spoken with many vets about this and the results are mixed. Some vets, believe it or not, don’t take this problem seriously. I have seen cases where the vet laughs as the poor Scottish Terrier walks into the clinic with their belly sliding on the ground (because she was so obese). I have heard from some vets that they don’t want to discuss the problem because their client gets upset. It is really sad.

      I also notice that many vets don’t have access to the calorie counts, Guaranteed analysis, and ingredients, for most commercially available dog foods. Our app is one way to access this info, by the way. With this data available, I hope that more vets can better scrutinize the food in terms of the ingredients (some foods contain some pretty ‘bad’ stuff) and in terms of proper serving sizes. 2 cups a day of Food X can translate to a very different calorie intake than 2 cups of Food Y.

      Happy to have a continued dialog offline as well if you would like to dig deeper.

      To your questions:
      -I have the slimdoggy app but have had trouble finding a way to get a login to check it out more in depth. Maybe a little help figuring out how to sign up? Do I have to have a slimdoggy consultation first?

      Once you download from the app store, all you need to do is create an account. You can do this either by creating one using your email address OR you can log in via Twitter or Facebook. (The latter two choices require that you authorize the app to access your credentials). That’s it! If you want more help, you can check out the videos (on our site’s sidebar). Also happy to chat if you want some more instructions.
      No consultation needed!

      – Could you tell me more about what kind of veterinary oversight is included in petsmove? My concern is that many overweight patients have underlying issues including arthritis, knee issues, and heart disease that require more customized exercise plans. I’d love to hear more about what kind of experience my clients will have on the site.

      Petsmove.org is a community site where pet owners can come to log their dog’s activity and weight over time. It is similar to the Slimdoggy app except we don’t calculate calories–we convert activity to “Paws” which display on graphs for the community to view. We use these to award prizes each month. Although we publish articles on fitness and food (many of these articles are from Slimdoggy.com), we don’t provide vet services and every member is encouraged to check with their vet whenever adding or changing their dog’s feeding or workout regimens.

      We have found that many people like the community aspect of the site and like to track activities as a form of compliance as well as a way to show the community that they are committed to keeping their pet fit and healthy.

      Lastly, we are big proponents of vigorous exercise, injury and health issues permitting. This applies to both humans and dogs. Short walks are better than nothing, but the benefits of vigorous exercise are astounding and allow the pet (and owner) to remain fit even with limited time. Again, we tell people to check with their vet, get a checkup and a list of exercise limitations (if any) before engaging in such things.
      steve recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-15-14My Profile

  4. I join you in this commitment. And of course, ask them to stock Dieting with my Dog, and The Dieting with my Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance, in which Slimdoggy has several features!
    Peggy Frezon recently posted…Blog the Change- Comedy Web Series Promotes Pet AdoptionMy Profile

  5. Steve – I’d love to talk more. What would be the best way to get in touch? You can e-mail me at vetchangesworld@gmail.com
    VetChangesWorld recently posted…Vetting the Change – Be The Change Blog HopMy Profile

  6. That is a great idea. I will definitely give your site a shout out on our next trip to see the vet. Thanks for all the two of you do for overweight dogs. I laughed at your Shar Pei pic!!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Barking to Be the Change for AnimalsMy Profile

  7. Pet obesity truly is epidemic, both for dogs and cats. And very few pet food companies show caloric content on their labels. Food is a big hot button with us, too, and we’re currently counting out the calories for Allie, to get her to shed a few pounds. GREAT topic for BTC4A!
    Maxwell, Faraday & Allie recently posted…Wednesday’s Waif: ChestnutMy Profile

    • Thanks. Even if a dog is not obese, but “just” overweight, it can have an impact on their health, lifespan, and quality of life. We encourage all pet owners to be diligent and keep their pets fit and healthy for life!
      steve recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-15-14My Profile

  8. We haven’t really had to speak to our vet much about weight issues/diet as our dogs have all been fine – and Abby was skinny as a rail. But I know they always look at the dog’s weight and point out if it’s a good weight for the dog or not. They’ve also mentioned studies that show that being just a slight bit underweight can add a lot of longevity to a dog’s life, so I think they are having those conversations with pet owners. Will mention you guys next time we go – but I’m hoping that won’t be for a while, since Rita just had her annual checkup recently!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Blog the Change for Animals: Take a Chance on the Best Friend You’ll Ever Have!My Profile

    • I think they are getting better and more willing to mention weight problems, so that’s a good thing. I hope you don’t go back soon either 😉
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-15-14My Profile

  9. Our veterinarian is wonderful, called us in December with the shocking information that Toby had gained 8 pounds in six months! Wowzer was that a wakeup call (our daughter’s a vet tech there and had taken Toby to work with her for daycare). Gotta say she didn’t seem hesitant to discuss it at all and on her recommendation we are using ‘healthy weight’ dog food and cut waaayyy back on the treats. I’m hoping it’s working, we’re going to have them weigh him at the end of the month. This is a great post, I’ll share it with our vet’s office.
    Amy recently posted…Marine Mammals Don’t Belong in Captivity! Be the Change For AnimalsMy Profile

    • Wow – yeah, 8lbs is a lot…just like with humans it sneaks up fast. We often forget to count treats when thinking about dog food – but calories are important and portion size of their regular food too – be sure and check the labels. You can also use our App to determine if you are feeding the right number of calories.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-15-14My Profile

  10. Well done! I am going to enlist my boss and our clinic. Get resources. Will work on putting your resources to good use and making a handout for our clients. We have packs with a tape measure and measuring cup and a calorie cheat sheet but honestly no one hands them out. People are afraid of change but change needs to happen.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Blog The Change~CRROWMy Profile

    • Sounds like a great plan – let us know if we can help in any way!
      mkob recently posted…How do I Find a Dog Camp?My Profile

  11. My vet is already proactive in working against obesity. I know other vets around here are not and actually will tell people their dog’s are not overweight when clearly they are. All I can do is refer them to our vet. It is really hard to convince someone their dog is overweight when their vet says they are just fine. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Round & RoundMy Profile

    • Exactly! That’s what we hope to change – educate the vets that are reluctant to tell the brutal truth so they can educate their patients.
      mkob recently posted…How do I Find a Dog Camp?My Profile

  12. We have been lucky to have a vet who is very aware of our pets’ weights. In the past he has let us know when he thinks they are starting to get a bit heavy (I’m happy to say it’s been quite a while since he’s had to remind us about that). In fact, he offended a friend of mine once about her dog, who definitely was overweight but she was in denial. Maybe he wasn’t delicate enough in telling her, but I do know he feels strongly about the issue. I’m not sure he or I could get through to her but at least we tried (her dog has since passed), and she did start to walk more with her dog so I think we did at least a bit.
    Jan K recently posted…Blog the Change – Doing Our PartMy Profile

    • It’s sometimes hardest to get through to the owners – as you said they are in denial. We try to remind them that they are shortening their life span by years – I’m sure none of them want that.
      mkob recently posted…How do I Find a Dog Camp?My Profile

  13. hah Slimdoggy! That pic is hiliarious…all joking aside, I think you are doing a great thing! Every little bit will help spread awareness!
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…Top 7 (Sapien) Pet PeevesMy Profile

  14. This is such an important issue and I love your call to action! You make a good point that many veterinary practices are quite hectic and while I know weight management is usually part of the typical check-up, it may not always be something each vet is able to make a lot of time for. Especially those in large clinics with large rotations. Providing helpful information they can hand out to clients is a great idea. It may also be a great thing to have in waiting areas. From what I have seen, you do a great job promoting pet health with your own blog and social media activities and I am sure you have helped countless pets and their people who may be struggling for ways to improve their health and wellness. It is something I really admire.

    Thank you so much for being part of positive change!

    • Thank you for the kind words. We hope that we’re making a difference.
      mkob recently posted…How do I Find a Dog Camp?My Profile

  15. Gosh darnit! I missed a BTC AGAIN! I’m happy to share that at Sydney’s heaviest, she was 92 pounds. When we weighed her at the vet a couple weeks ago and she’s down to 72 pounds. Our vet says a little more.

    Thank you for getting us started down this path. I can’t believe our dog was ever 20 pounds heavier.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Fur Mom Confessions | I Stole a Box of Riley’s Organic Dog TreatsMy Profile

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