The Elephant in the Room

I am going to let you in on a little secret, I live to eat.  Yes, I definitely fall into the camp, live to eat rather than eat to live. I love to cook, create new recipes as well as savour and experience new flavours and cuisines.  Those of you who know me, also know I love to share food with my family and friends and if you are looking for a gift for me, a new cook book is always a hit.  While I sometimes wish it wasn’t the case, living to eat is part of who I am and so I embrace life with all its flavours and struggle to maintain a healthy body weight. Thankfully I love the outdoors, skiing, mountain biking and hiking which helps to some extent but I know my love of food will always keep me from being comfortable on a public beach, in my bathing suit.  


I know many of you share my struggle and I also know many of your pet’s are a few pounds away from a healthy weight too.  So why do we care?  The risks of obesity are well documented in pets - cancer, arthritis, diabetes, increased anesthesia risk and reduced life span to name a few.  At West Kootenay Animal Hospital, a nutritional assessment and body condition scoring is part of your pets annual physical exam every year.  We also know some of you stress about this yearly visit to the vet because…”They are going to get on my case again because Fluffy is overweight”.  Please know, we are not trying to stress you out or annoy you, we truly want to help your pet live longer, healthier and be pain free.  


We know how hard it can be to eat healthy in this age of instant gratification.  The media and marketing machine, makes sure we see tasty treats around every corner.  The same holds true for our pets.  Just walk down the aisle of any pet store or the pet section of the grocery store and you are hit with images of happy, fit pets enjoying special treats from their loving owners.  If your really love your pet, you should spoil them a little, right?  How does your pet know you love him or her if you don’t give them treats, right?  Stop for a minute and think about those big brown (or blue) eyes looking up at you with adoration.  Of course they know you love them and they love you too - unconditionally.  That is the magic and joy of pet ownership - unconditional love and companionship.  You don’t need food to cement the “bond”.  Go for a walk together, play with a toy, have a wrestle or a cuddle.  Your pet knows you love him or her and will be healthier for it!  


Pick a balanced, high quality diet, check calorie content, start measuring and feeding an appropriate amount of food at each meal, limit treats and know you are an amazing pet guardian by feeding responsibly.  There will be struggles and times you “fall off the wagon”, just like we do but you can do it!  The alternative is to throw up our hands and say, “oh its just too hard, it’s so much easier to keep the bowl full all the time, otherwise she whines all day, doc”.  I know it is hard, just ask Dr. Rob about the whining at our house when the hunger or as he calls it the “hangry” over takes me!  But every day gives you a fresh, new start and remember you are not alone in the pet obesity battle, the team at West Kootenay Animal Hospital is here to help.  Now…I think it is time for a bike ride and then I noticed Ferraros has some delicious looking strawberries that would go nicely on top of a flourless chocolate torte. Don’t judge, a little dark chocolate is good for you right? And I will be sure to share my creation with family and friends because it always tastes better when shared with the people you love!