It’s totally possible to be a healthy and happy fat human. I try to practice body positivity, with regard to myself and others. There are different reasons for humans to be overweight, and it’s important to accept and love your body at any size.
But then you see an overweight or obese dog…
While fat may sometimes be a choice for a human, it’s not one for a dog. Wild dogs are lean survival machines, and Nature didn’t intend for our dogs to be fat. (Or too skinny, for that matter.) Although a roly-poly pup might seem adorable, the reality is much more dangerous.
There are several reasons for a dog’s obesity: eating people food, too many carbohydrates, insufficient exercise, to name a few. Some humans use food as a reward or to show affection for their pets. Allowing a dog to become obese might be considered animal abuse. It could also result from a lack of information, education, or access to healthy dog food.
Like humans, dogs may have medical conditions that make them overweight. If you suspect this is the case, please see a vet for more information. Obesity may shorten lifespan, damage the organs, and affect bones and joints.
So, how do you tell a friend, family member, or stranger that their dog’s health may be in danger? Is it even our place to do so? Maybe it’s not appropriate to say these things to a stranger, or acquaintance. If you decide to go ahead, it helps if you start these “I” statements with “I love your dog.” Never accuse anyone of bad parenting! They might not know that what they are doing isn’t best for their pup. Here are a few approaches, ranging from direct to silly to roundabout to anonymous…
1. Be direct but kind.
“I’m not a vet but it looks like your dog might be overweight. Have you considered having him checked out?” (Unless you ARE a vet, in which case say whatever your professional opinion dictates.)
2. Take a subtle approach.
Offer to walk their dog, or accompany them on a dog walk.
3. Try humor.
(While lifting or petting the pup) “Little hefty there, what does the vet say?” or, “Your dog reminds me of someone famous…Oh I know, Jabba the Hut!”
…mail them printouts of articles about pet obesity and its risks. Or success stories!
5. Personal anecdote.
“My dog was overweight, and the vet said she was facing a lot of health risks.”
6. Talk about food!
“What do you feed him?”
7. All love.
“I love your dog, and it’s obvious that you love her too. I’m sure you want to keep her healthy and happy for as long as possible. I’m concerned that she might be at risk for health issues due to her size….”
Know that your friend might be offended by your insinuation that they’re doing pup parenting wrong. Gauge each situation and consider your relationship with the person. It might be difficult, but it will be more difficult for your friend to potentially lose their dog as a result of weight-related health problems.
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