Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Sad Day: FDA Approves First Dog Obesity Drug

The FDA just announced that they've just approved the first-ever obesity drug for dogs, which really makes me cringe. Why? Because dogs don't have eating disorders -- their owners have feeding disorders.

This summer, I adopted a new dog after she ran in front of my car on an interstate. She was starved, so I took her home and fed her. And fed her. And fed her. She weighed 20 pounds and could eat a heaping cup of food in 28 seconds (yes, I timed her). But that was fine, because she needed all the extra calories she could get. Then, about three months later, during a good wrestling match, I realized I couldn't feel her ribs anymore. Suddenly, she'd gone from being emaciated to being pudgy. So I did exactly what everyone else with a pudgy dog should do: I started feeding her less. Instead of getting a heaping cup at each meal, she got 2/3 of a cup. Three weeks later, she wasn't pudgy anymore. That's the amazing thing about dogs and weight: Humans control their calorie intake, and there's nothing dogs can do about it. If your dog needs to lose weight, you feed it less food.

It's true that there's an epidemic of canine (and feline) obesity right now, just like there's an epidemic of human obesity. Which is no coincidence: People don't exercise, which means their dogs don't exercise. When people eat, they feed their dogs scraps, so the dogs gain weight right along with their owners. And don't even get me started on the ingredients in dog food.

But there are other less obvious problems: Owners often have no idea how much they should feed their dogs, and if they follow the guidelines on most dog food bags, they're probably going to have obese dogs, because pet food companies encourage overfeeding. I had a 125 pound dog who lived to be 16 and was never an ounce over or under weight. If I'd followed the guidelines for his food, he'd have eaten 2 1/2 times what I actually fed him, and surely become obese. My very healthy 17 year old dog Bonny eats 1/4 the recommended amount, always has.

During my years as a veterinary technician, I saw many dogs die or become paralyzed from obesity. Today, when I see an obese dog on the street, I want to walk up to its owner and say, You love your dog, right? Then why are you killing it?

If it's come down to this, and people are unable to control themselves when it comes to feeding their dogs, I'd rather see dogs medicated than dead. But I hope vets who prescribe this stuff paste a sticker on every bottle that says, Dogs don't need obesity drugs. They need owners who will feed them the right amount, cut back when necessary, and make sure they get exercise. (Perhaps the FDA should consider a self-control drug for humans with dog feeding disorders.)

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Anonymous Woof Woofington said...

Good for you! This is exactly the problem - people overfeed their dogs and equally important, do not exercise them enough. It amazes me that many dog owners don't think their dogs need exercise beyond the backyard. Even greedy Labradors don't need weight loss tablets!

It's a bad day for dogs in my opinion!

Woof Woof
(Woof Woofington)

8:56 PM  
Blogger Guy Barry said...

We ustad a case ib Britain where a dog was confiscated by the spca on a charge of cruely for overfeeding there dog,Do you think they are right.?

9:31 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Well said! I've blogged about this new drug too. It's the same old pharmaceutical company response - treat the symptoms not curing the real underlying problem.

I work with a wonderful holistic vet, Dr. Jane who has formulated a weight loss dog food for the owner who can't do right for doing wrong and importantly all her dog and cat foods are human quality foods


8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That picture is sickening. It really is abuse to let a pet, or for that matter a child...anything in your care become so unhealthy.

I think there should be some changes to the guidelines on the pet food bags. My dog is about 25% overweight but he eats less than the recommended amount, and we walk several times a week. I am making some major changes to his diet and not listening to the marketing ploy any longer.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the owner of the dig in England was fined heavily and had his dog returned. He has to put the dog on a controlled diet in order to keep the dog.
Yes it is cruel to over feed a dog, yet some see it as loving their dogs, letting them share the same food as they would eat chocolates and all.
It strange there is a law for cruelty to pets but not one for cruelty to children.
Everyday I see kids stuffing themselves with fast food chocolates. I see over weight children everywhere, where their parents clearly are not. Do parents now know how much harm they are doing to their children by allowing them to overdulge.
I am not saying they can't have fast food or sweets kust in moderation to their health and weight.
If a parent were to be fined for allowing their child to over eat, that would cause a stir.

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3:19 PM  
Blogger aqoona said...

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4:57 PM  
Blogger Lois said...

At first I was worried that the picture of that poor dog was going to be of your dog! Poor thing! I wrote an article a while back about obesity in animals--and now I pay a lot more attention. Too bad I have less luck controlling my own eating!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Janine said...

Goodness, the picture of that dog you have posted makes me sick. That is just....so wrong.

Great post on the overfeeding of animals and where the responsibility for the condition really falls.

I have a dog that was close to 15 pounds underweight when I got her 12 years ago. Her normal/average weight is between 35 and 38 pounds. It took me nearly 6 to 7 months to get her to that average weight range because feeding her too much food just didn't make sense. I tried it at first to get some meat on her bones but the only thing it seemed to accomplish was feeding her too much food, made her sick (barfed). I figured her stomach must have been too small to handle the amount of food I was trying to feed her. She just wasn't used it. Everything checked out with the vet that she didn't have any kind of stomach problems...or any other health problems, so I just decided to take things a little slower with the feeding and weight gain.

My dog (Sadie) is at a healthy 36 pounds and has maintained that weight for nearly 12 years---minus the 6 or 7 months it took her to get there.

Instead of making diet pills for pets....maybe they should make smart pills for stupid pet owners.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Chaboz - Harold said...

I met Bonny 8 years ago and this dog is the bomb. Just like her owner.

If anybody knows about Pets, that would be Ms.Skloot. If you want to have a pet make sure you know how to take care of yourself first.


2:29 PM  

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