Merry Christmas! I write this piece as I watch Carol from BBC Weather predict an onslaught of successive cold fronts flying south across Scotland bringing with them yet more cold weather.
It gets me thinking about New Year resolutions. So many of us resolve to trim up for the coming year (myself included) I wondered if we should bring our dogs with us on this journey.
We see a lot of slightly portly dogs. Our head nurse Trudi runs our practice weight clinics, so I asked her for her thoughts on pet obesity.
“When energy is consumed from food more than it is expended in everyday living and exercise, then that excess of energy is stored in the body as fat,” she explained.
“Excessive body fat causes a multitude of problems for the animal. Not only does the excess weight increase the workload for the bones and joints predisposing to osteoarthritis especially in the hips, elbows and stifles in old age but it makes every day living more uncomfortable for the animal, reducing the enjoyment of exercise – and causing a vicious circle of reduced energy expended and more weight gain.
“Every organ in the body is compromised when it is surrounded by fat and the organ has to work harder to carry out its everyday functions.
“It is therefore little surprise that carrying excess fat decreases the animal’s life expectancy and also predisposes the animal to serious disease including cancer.
“Every vet has a weigh scales and will be more than happy to recommend an ideal weight for the animal in question. Regular weight checks are quick, easy, free and very important.”
Of course the formula for weight loss in dogs is just like ours - exercise more, and eat less high-calorie food.
This is not necessarily easy to achieve, and Trudi has plenty of grateful patients and owners visiting her weight clinics for guidance through a weight loss plan.
I also wish to remind owners of older dogs to watch out for stiffness in our pets - it tends to be worse in winter and is easily treated by us vets. The sooner we diagnose early arthritis, the more effective treatment can be.