THE THICK OF IT: Weight gain impacts people…and pets too

THE THICK OF IT: Weight gain impacts people…and pets too

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A person who has packed on some pounds over the past year and a half may not be the only one struggling with their weight; their pet could be dealing with weight gain too. 

Long days of alternating COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that kept individuals at home could have also affected their pets. 

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, with veterinarians worrying that the excess weight could take a serious toll on domestic pets’ well-being and their fight to regain a healthy weight may be a struggle. 

Dr Dwight Dorsett.

“We say ‘struggle’ because it takes two to control your pet’s diet and wellness,” said Dr Dwight Dorsett, a 24-year veterinarian at Nassau Pet Clinic. 

“Obesity in pets is a serious condition. It can cause a number of issues, including osteoarthritis; premature bone and joint aging; high cholesterol; respiratory dysfunction; urinary tract disease; cancer; and even dermatologic conditions. 

“So, while you thought you were doing your dog a favor by giving him those extra treats, you may have exacerbated an underlying weight issue that is now harder to recover from. But it can be done and it should be acted upon sooner rather than later before the consequences are more severe.”

Experts say returning to a stable, balanced diet of age-appropriate food is the first step, along with reading the labels on dog treats and not overfeeding your pet those treats. The second step is exercise. 

“We recommend a wellness check-up with your veterinarian as a priority,” said Nat Davies, director of business operations with the Washington, DC-based Pet Food Institute (PFI). 

 “If your dog or cat is suffering from obesity, like many pets are, the vet can help you come up with a weight loss plan.

 “This requires careful work with a veterinarian since it’s not always best to just reduce the amount of food you give at mealtimes. Our message throughout North America and the Caribbean is to feed and treat responsibly.”

In a PFI-sponsored lecture for vets from around the Caribbean — just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — Dr Leslie Hancock-Munroe with the JM Smucker Co said pet parents have to understand the signs. 

“It’s increasingly common for pet parents to accidentally provide too many high-calorie treats as a means of showing love for their pets, failing to recognize the signs of obesity,” said the small animal nutritionist, who acknowledged the difficulty of weight loss in pets. 

“It’s important to explain to clients that begging is learned behavior, and not typically related to nutrition or hunger. 

“Veterinarians can support healthy pets by encouraging lifelong habits such as regular exercise, responsible treating and carefully-measured meals.”

The American Kennel Club offers the following recommendation, which the American Heart Association also supports: 150 minutes per week of walking your pet will unleash the potential of wellness in both of you and those little ones you may have accidentally overfed and underexercised. That’s 30 minutes a day, five times a week.


And, on the other hand, more animals in the Bahamas are underfed, malnourished and starving then obese. Roaming every street are starving dogs with ribs showing desperately searching for scraps as their supposed owners ignore their existence in between kicking them or throwing rocks. Nations are judged by how they treat the weak among them. How does the Bahamas treat its elderly, its children, its animals, its disabled??????

It’s the law of the wild survival of the fittest. If you are not fit enough to survive on you own you shouldn’t exist.

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