I love going to Petsmart! I especially enjoy taking one of our six fur babies with us. People always “ooh” and “aah” and tells us how cute the chosen pooch is. And I soak up every second of it!
Last night, my husband and I headed to Petsmart sans dogs to purchase a basic litter box for the kitten we rescued. That is when I noticed something: Pets truly do resemble their owners. My favorite is when the fur of the dog matches the ‘do of the owner. Priceless!
But, I also made another disturbing discovery. Many pets are matching their owners’ weight issues pound for pound. I watched a portly gentleman tugging on the leash of a grossly overweight Beagle, trying to get him to walk. I can tell you exactly why the dog didn’t want to move: it hurt to do so. When the dog did decide to move, his steps were slow and labored. His little legs were covered in flapping flab. We felt horrible for him.
I think that we, as pet owners, need to take full responsibility for their health. Sure, we take them to their annual vet visits and make sure that their monthly flea/tick/heartworm medicine is administered. But, we tend to “over treat” our pampered pooches.
I know that I have personally been guilty of this sin. And this is especially true after I have acquired a new dog. I want to make the dog feel loved, so I feed it treats every time it turns the corner. “Look, the dog sat! Have a treat!” “Now, the dog looked at me! Have a treat!” “The dog wagged its’ tail! Have a treat!”
Much like Jillian Michaels says that we try to comfort ourselves with food, I think that we end up doing the same thing for our pets. We never want them to feel deprived or unloved. So, the yummy treats are a way that we can show our unconditional love. But, this type of behavior can have dire consequences.
When I was living at home with my parents, Theo was often given table scraps. Grandma always looked forward to sneaking him bits of the rolls we always have on Thanksgiving Day. Mom even let him lick cheese off of our dinner plates before washing them! A few months after I got married and moved out, Theo began peeing…a lot. Plus, he began peeing inside the house. Theo had been house broken for years.
One of the most frustrating moments was when Theo awoke from the foot of our bed, walked up to me, and peed right there on my pillow! This was not like him at all. Then, on that fated trip to Pestmart, we saw it: blood in pee puddle. After we took him to the vet, we found out he had bladder stones. What caused them? The believes that it was a reaction to something that he ate, such as…cheese. Yep, people food given to him years before was wreaking havoc on his little body. Not to mention our wallets after the $400 surgery we scheduled to remove the stones.
Thankfully, Theo made a fully recovery, but it wasn’t easy. After the surgery, he laid on the couch and made the most pitiful sound I have ever heard. And I was filled with guilt. Why had we given him people food? All this time, we had believed that we were “treating” him for being a good dog. What we were doing was setting him up to feel horrible. He now as to be on special dog food (Urinary SO) for the rest of his life.
While I seriously doubt that dog treats will have the same drastic effect as people food, the tendency of being overweight still exists. Just like a human, any additional weight makes the dog’s heart work harder. Keep in mind, their hearts already beat way faster than a human’s. Imagine their heart having to work even harder due to extra pounds.
Theo’s situation was my wake up call. None of my other dogs have ever been given people food. I want my dogs to be happy and HEALTHY. My husband and I love going on charity walks with our dogs. While we do have a pet stroller (that we won), I like to see my dogs walking happily beside me, getting the exercise they need.