The high cost of doggy weight loss

There are a lot of fat dogs out there. The rate of canine obesity, like the rate of human obesity, seems to be climbing. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention 53.9 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association tells us that the most important thing we can do to lengthen our pet’s lives is to control their weight.

Our concerns about pet welfare easily transform into concerns about pet weight loss. So, perhaps it is not that surprising that human diet cultures and weight loss industries are reiterated with respect to our canine companions.

There are many things that we can do and buy to get a dog’s weight under control, and some of them sound a lot like things we can do and buy to get a person’s weight under control.

You might have heard of the Hollywood Diet, but have you heard of the Show Dog Diet? One article on the American Kennel Club webpage actually recommends the Show Dog Diet, which involves feeding your dog one ‘normal’ meal in the morning, and then feeding her low sodium green beans with a bit of kibble later in the day. After the initial weight loss resulting from feeding your dog beans this diet recommends that owners switch their dogs to commercial weight loss dog food. And there is a plethora weight control and weight loss dog foods to choose from– Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams, Arcana, Purina One, the list goes on and on.

How can you tell if your dog is a healthy weight? Purina helps veterinarians and pet guardians alike make this determination with their Body Condition Score chart.

A chart showing pictures of dogs ranging from fat to thin from the top and side.

In addition to high quality, and high price, dog food pet guardians can also purchase exercise equipment for their fat dogs. If you have an extra thousand or so dollars laying around you can even invest in a treadmill for your pudgy pooch.

small white dog on a black treadmill with red rails.

We can also buy exercise equipment for our pudgy pups. Canine treadmills are often advertised as tools for canine weight control and obesity prevention.

After trying the diets, special foods, and exercise equipment, dog guardians can turn to pharmaceuticals to help their dog lose weight. “Doggy diet pills: Are they safe?” tells the story of Dirlotapide, a drug that “tricks [a dog’s] brain into feeling the dog is full after a smaller meal.” The article goes on to say that while taking this drug a “high-quality commercial diet is recommended” to ensure the dog gets adequate nutrition. It’s a good thing there are so many high quality commercial diets on the market. This article assures us that “side effects, if any, tend to be mild, and can include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.” Other sources, however, tell us that “All pharmacologic weight-management aids should be considered short-term interventions, may have significant side effects.”

In addition to the products we can buy to help our dogs lose weight, there is a wide range of books available about how dogs and their humans can get thin and fit together. Wouldn’t it be a nice to spend an evening curled up with a bowl of ice cream reading Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together?  

The special food, exercise equipment, drugs, and books all cost money. Some of them cost a lot of money. On one hand, if someone finds a way to separate rich people from their cash that’s fine with me. But on the other hand, I’m sad to see yet another way that a person’s income impacts the health of the creatures (both the humans and the nonhumans) in their lives.

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