July 1, 2008

The lean years

by winecountrydog

East Idaho pets got a free medical checkup (AP news 6/29/08) at an event held at Bannock Animal Medical Center near Pocatello — an "innovative" cat and dog health center with a big waiting area, fresh-brewed coffee (for humans?), filtered water for pets, a fish tank (for cats?), a play area for children, an exercise area for dogs, and a consultation room with a view into the operating room. Yikes!

The free event was intended to help owners of older pets better support their pets' health needs. Clinic owner Walter Rowntree, DVM, said they saw about 300 dogs and cats. While problems in older pets include dental disease, back pain, and obesity, the rate of obesity reported by Dr. Rowntree was off the charts: Only five of the 200 dogs examined were at a normal weight.

No wonder that about 30 percent of the older dogs seen at the Idaho event suffer from some form of back pain, and that 15 of them have sciatica. And the cats, who made up about 10 percent of the clients, suffer from many of the same problems as the dogs.

Obesity is a big culprit in amplifying spinal and other health problems. Dogs and cats are carrying the weight of the commercial pet food industry on their backs! It's not "normal aging" for Fideau and Fluff to be fatties. People who talk about canine spine degeneration and other problems being the result of a "natural" aging process and poor genetics better check with ol' Mother Hubbard. What's in your doggie cupboard?

I think we ought to be able to describe a dog's older years as "the lean years": the years of our lives when we maintain normal weight through good nutrition!

If I sound strident, it's because being lean and fit helped save my life. Lucky me that I'd started eating differently long before my back went out. I'd lost unnecessary body fat and actually gotten back my puppy waistline and puppy energy. I'm a 10-1/2-year-old corgi, you know, and I'd been slowly gaining weight over the past three years. If I hadn't made radical diet changes, I wouldn't be recovering from spinal cord damage due to disc injuries. . . . Would I even have been a candidate for surgery? Not to brag, but even though my back legs are stiff, I walk with the youthful spring of a deer fawn. I barely touch the floor as I trot along, and my long corgi back is relieved of stress.

Oh howl, I could go on and on. But I'm more interested in asking whether you're taking advantage of healthful new alternatives to fattening old pet foods. Have you tried Primal? What about recipes for homemade meals?

Are you due for your semi-annual veterinary checkup?
Make sure your vet and guardian/owner get cookin' on
nutritious food alternatives.
winecountrydog's back showing incision
See the photo. That's me, Tilin corgi, a few days after life-saving surgery. How about that 9-inch surgical incision on my back!

Paws ups for health!