Sunday, July 21, 2013

Canine Obesity - A Growing Problem

It is an unfortunate situation that so many dogs are overweight.  It is truly a growing problem, and one with great concern.  Just as it is unhealthy for humans to be overweight, so it is for our furry companions.  Obesity can bring on disease such as diabetes, skin conditions, digestive problems, arthritis, heart disease and many other issues.  It’s also easier to put on, just like with people, and much harder to take off.  Same concept, less calories, more exercise.  Eating selections for dogs are the responsibility of the pet owner, where for us, we make our choices, and those preferences affect our weight.  Poor choices need to be replaced with better ones.

For dogs, raw is best; home-cooked is good; dry food or kibble, I really don’t recommend as it is too high in carbs (which I am going to discuss more), canned – I do not recommended for weight loss either.  Treats, which I feel should be few can include raw baby carrots and small pieces of apples, both organic preferably. Occasionally dog biscuits, homemade being the preference. If your dog is obese, starting an exercise program can be a challenge.  Progress will be slow, so the need for patience will be great.  Walking is the best choice for exercise, as most people and dogs can do at least a little.  You can also consider water therapy, especially for older dogs or ones with joint issues.  How much and for how long? Well, it depends on the dog’s age and current health status.  If five minutes is a starting point, then five minutes.  As your dog’s weight drops and his/her health improves, you can increase the time and even the intensity.  Always check with your veterinarian if you are not sure, and let them know you are adding an exercise program to their routine.  Below is a canine body condition score chart.  Study this, then take a look at your dog and see where he/she scores.

There are those who think an overweight dog is a ‘loved’ dog.  No doubt, you love your pet…I would certainly hope so.  However, an overweight dog is an unhealthy dog, and overfeeding is a poor practice, just as it is for a person.  Overfeeding can cause diarrhea and feeding improperly can produce cancer environments internally.  The main problem in the canine diet is over consumption of carbohydrates.  This type of feeding over a long period of time, usually the lifespan of the dog is the main culprit in the disease issues I have mentioned thus far, not to neglect mentioning that overweight dogs have more difficulty controlling blood glucose levels.  I know most of you out there are feeding your dog dry (or kibble) food, and will probably continue to do so.  I hope you will consider a raw diet, as this is truly the diet dogs need to consume for optimum health.

I believe vets are still focused on the 20th Century thought process of pharmaceutical treatment, especially when recommending the prescription dog foods.  On the contrary, proper nutrition needs to be considered as a component of treatment in obesity…for it is there that true weight loss will find its cure.  In researching to write this blog, a common practice of mine, I checked out one of the dry foods formulated for weight loss from Hill’s Prescription Diet.  I am including the ingredient list from their ‘Canine Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution’ formula:

Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Soybean Mill Run, Soybean Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Coconut Oil, Pork Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Lactic Acid, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Liver Flavor, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Iodized Salt, Dried Carrots, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Lipoic Acid, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols added to retain freshness, Citric Acid added to retain freshness, Beta-Carotene, Phosphoric Acid, Rosemary Extract.

What I see on this ingredient list are numerous known allergens to the canine such as wheat, corn and soy.  Way too many carbs! I have mentioned before on how to calculate the carbohydrate percentage for dry dog food.  By law, manufacturer’s do not have to disclose this information (then you’d be too informed and probably wouldn’t buy their food).  One surprising thing was, Hill’s included it on their nutrient chart, however, I don’t think it’s accurate.  There’s not enough information provided to come to the carb content of 38.7% that it shows.  You will typically see the protein, fat, ash, fiber and moisture percentages listed.  To obtain the carbohydrate percentage, you start with 100(%) and subtract the % of protein, ash, fat and moisture and you will get your percentage of carbohydrates.  With the information supplied I can take 100 minus 29.8 (the protein), 11.6 (the fat) and that’s it (fiber is not calculated).    I come up with 58.6% carbs.  That really sounds like to me what it actually is, as I have found even the high end dry dog foods are around 50-55% carbs.  Hill’s even touts on their website that ‘88% of dogs lost weight in two months at home’.  I really question these kinds of claims, and I don’t apologize for my skepticism.

Don’t assume the pet food industry at large is accurate in their research of what your dog needs, and that these foods are ‘optimum’ diets.  You’re the pet parent….your dog is your responsibility…from pottie breaks, to feeding to vetting. I believe the prescription diets are a lot of hollow hype, and don’t solve a problem, but create further issues down the line.  This is not how dogs were intended to eat.  I don’t buy into it.  My dogs no longer have kibble in their diet.  Any time in the past when an upset stomach or some other issue has risen, the kibble was the first to get eliminated.   Nutrition is a continual learning process, and I have acquired a great deal of insight and information in the last five years when I started home cooking for my dogs.  More recently, in the last 12-18 months, I have discovered that raw is best, and now that I have made that change for them, I am starting to see positive results in just 6 weeks!  It’s your decision, you’ll feed your dog what you choose.  My hope in creating, writing and continuing this blog is to inform and educate pet parents so they can make the best decision for their dog, as they are one family member that will never outgrow their dependence on you.

No comments:

Post a Comment