By Timm Otterson, DVM, PEF President, NFVS Board Member:
Ever notice how people often look like their pets? The tall, skinny couple with the Greyhounds? The stocky guy with the English Bulldog? The stylish lady with the well-groomed Bishon Frise? Unfortunately, as people in our society have gotten heavier and started to suffer the associated health effects, so have pets. Veterinarians know this, and that’s why the American Veterinary Medical Association has designated the theme of this year’s National Pet Week as “People and Pets Healthy Together.” The focus is to make all of us more physically fit.
As vets, we see overweight pets almost daily, and we discuss weight control on a regular basis (see last summer’s BRO article by Jennifer Stachnik, DVM). Controlling weight is certainly different in pets than it is in people, but the consequences of obesity are the same. As with people, overweight pets are at higher risk of diabetes mellitus and arthritis, and pets can even have coat problems if they are so fat they become unable to groom themselves. Limiting calories can be easier for pets (especially if you only have one pet) as you can feed a set amount of food every day, and pets can’t snack on that bag of chips your colleague left in the lunch room.
The difficult part of weight loss (for people and pets) is often getting enough exercise and that will be the focus of the upcoming event from 11am until 2pm on May 2nd at the Barkyard in LaSalle Park (www.thebarkyard.org). The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society (NFVS) has partnered with BuffOLA (the canine-loving volunteers who manage the Barkyard) to hold Get Fit and Sit, an event at the off-leash area to demonstrate fun ways to exercise your pets. Pets will compete in canine “sit up” contests, agility, flying disc catching and more with prizes going to the participants. The Canine Sports Complex agility team will also attend to demonstrate how to train your pet to maximize its potential. It should be lot of fun whether you are competing or just hanging out with your dog and enjoying the antics.
As for weight loss in cats, my recommendations remain: laser pointers, cat dancer toys and cat nip.