In Italian-American families like mine, food is often equated with love. Many pet owners want to love their pets in the same way- with too much food. As a result, we have an obesity epidemic among our household dog and cat populations in America. Several times a day, I talk to my clients about putting their pets on a weight loss plan. Chubby kitties may be cute, but they are at great risk for diabetes and arthritis. Rotund pooches face the same risks, particularly arthritis. There are compelling medical reasons to keep Fluffy and Fido lean: lean pets have an increased lifespan, a decreased risk of cancer, a decreased risk of endocrine diseases like diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and a dramatically decreased risk of degenerative joint disease (arthritis).
From the first day of veterinary school, students are taught that “cats are not small dogs”. I’ve said this phrase before and, undoubtedly, I will say it again. There are many quirks and idiosyncrasies to our feline friends, and their unique physiology. This can make life challenging for veterinarians, especially when it comes to prescribing certain medications for our kitty patients. There are many drugs that, while perfectly safe to humans and to dogs, can be highly toxic to cats.
Seeing a commercial for a new show on the National Geographic Channel called “My Dog Ate What?” got me thinking about my own dog Kona, pictured here. Kona, like so many of my canine patients, has a penchant for what we in the veterinary industry like to call “dietary indiscretions”. This means Kona will eat anything, anywhere, any time, and of any size/shape/consistency/flavor. To my knowledge, in his nine years of life, Kona has eaten at least two pairs of sunglasses, a flip flop bought as a souvenir from my Hawaiian honeymoon, whole tomatoes from the kitchen counter, many of my son’s diapers (thankfully clean ones), baby wipes, tennis balls, cherished stuffed animals, the coffee filter from our coffee pot, and then some. When I poop scoop our doggie yard, I know which specimens belong to Kona because his invariably are rainbow-colored, riddled with the many foreign objects he consumed that week.