by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF will be sharing their animal rescue adventures with us now every month.
“A dog desires affection more than its dinner. Well – almost.” by Charlotte Gray
Shortly after relocating back to Fresno, I moved in with Marty, an old childhood friend. We had a shaded condo with a gigantic fireplace, and a lovely little pool just steps from our porch. We had great neighbors, who for some inexplicable reason, put up with our boisterous weekend BBQ and swim parties. We shared our home with three crazy canines, all with distinctive personalities. Marty’s dog, Boo, was a huge Husky/Wolf hybrid, with a stunning white coat, and a habit of hiding in my closet whenever thunderstorms appeared. He was found as a tiny snowball of fur on Halloween, hence his name. Both of my mutts came from Animal Rescue of Fresno. Chopper was a stocky brindle Boxer mix with a flagpole tail, and a smile that rivaled the Cheshire Cat. Taco was a copper Corgi combo with enormous antenna ears, and a bark that sounded like we had a Great Dane in our living room. Ironically, he was adopted on Cinco de Mayo. Go figure.It’s true, our animals were incredibly spoiled. In addition to doggie treats, they enjoyed plenty of people food. They were well fed to a fault, and definitely showed it after awhile. But they never came close to resembling Jesse, a nine-year old Pug/Beagle blend who recently arrived at ARF. Pulled from a shelter, this easygoing butterball is pleasingly plump, and I mean that in the kindest way possible. Cute as a button and sweet as molasses, Jesse is definitely one chunky monkey. This senior weighs 42 pounds, although her ideal weight should be between 10-20 pounds. Just like most of the dogs we rescue from euthanasia, there isn’t much available on her background. Was Jesse the pampered pet of a retired couch potato, lounging on lazy afternoons, savoring snacks, and watching bad reality TV? Perhaps she belonged to a disabled person, who was unable to take her on morning strolls, or drive her to doggy daycare for play dates. Then again, maybe Jesse was just the luckiest little star on the planet, feasting on Filet Mignon and Frosty Paws. Thanks mom!
Whatever the case, Jesse is an excellent example of how a dog should NOT look. Despite her cheerful personality, you can tell that extra baggage is taking a toll on her tubby tummy. She is currently being fostered by an ARF volunteer, who is lovingly monitoring her diet. As with humans, when canines carry around additional pounds, it cannot only be uncomfortable, but downright dangerous. There are many complications facing obese dogs, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Animals can also suffer from decreased liver function, difficulty breathing, joint damage, and possibly cancer.
Heat intolerance is another threat, especially under these particularly scorching conditions. If you’re a long-toothed walrus hanging out with your pals on the frigid coast of Greenland, fat is your friend. But if you’re a pudgy pup competing for the last slice of shade in Fresno, it’s a fiery foe. And here’s something else for you to chew on: overweight dogs stand a higher risk of developing constipation, which may lead to more flatulence. That’s right people, I’m talking GAS. If there’s one thing that can clear a room faster than a New York minute, it’s Fido farts. So unless you plan to stock up on another case of Febreze, you might want to scrap the table scraps.
Now I’m not saying don’t EVER give your dog leftovers, but there’s a big difference between sharing that last bite of pizza crust, and splitting the entire pepperoni pie with your Pekingese. If he gets too comfortable noshing on people food alone, he may turn into a snobby kibble critic who turns up his snout at anything other than meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Then before you know it, there’s a whole lot of begging going on under the dinner table. Oh, those sad, weepy eyes…please, please, just one more pork chop? Sucker! In reality, there are some foods that your best buddy shouldn’t really be consuming at all. Check out this handy dandy list from the AKC website to see what items are safe, and which ones should be avoided. So instead of that chunk of chocolate, how about a nice wedge of watermelon to cool down your panting pal?
Of course “free-feeding” is one of the major reasons your dog can start looking like the Michelin Man. Leaving an entire bowl of grub for Chester to graze on all day, can result in one chubby Chow. If you’re unclear on how much to feed your pet, you can click on this informative link, or just have a chat with your happy veterinarian. Other potential causes of obesity can be genetics, medications, and health problems. Lack of exercise is also a huge issue for many portly pooches, along with boredom, which results in overeating. To kill both of these birds with one stone, put down your cell phone, and try thinking out of the box.
How about taking your dog for a walk around the block? Perhaps a plunge in the pool? Or maybe a Frisbee field day? Because when YOU’RE active, so is your pet, and that’s a win-win situation for you both. Shedding a few pounds together could give you the perfect reason to go out and celebrate. But Jesse would probably just settle for a nap. Learn more about pet obesity here: www.petobesityprevention.org.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.