Pet obesity: trickle-down effect from humans

Prof Franco Cavaleri BSc Nutritional Biochemist , Mr IFBB North America | April 2012

Statistics indicate that more than 30% of North Americans are obese and research is showing that our pets are taking after us—obesity in the domestic canine population is at a 30% high as well, and a fat dog is an unhealthy dog.  As our pets are brought into the family setting they are forced to adopt our lifestyles and with they begin to experience our lifestyle-related ailments.

Just as nutrition plays a huge role in your own fitness or fatness, it plays a central role in your dog’s conditioning.  Some nutrients deliver their caloric value in a form that is less likely to contribute to fatness.  Our furry companions may not have open access to food like we humans do, but they still love their carbs and so do the manufacturers of processed dry dog foods.

Carbohydrate sources are a lot less expensive than meat so they tend to be higher in concentration in foods that cost less. Rice and wheat can make it in as primary ingredients in your dog’s tasty food.  However, your canine companion is even less capable of tolerating carbohydrate loaded foods than you are. And we know how the carbohydrate phenomenon has taken the human population by storm to cause an ever escalating rate of obesity, diabetes and other insulin-related illnesses including dementias and chronic inflammation.

Most cases of obesity are a progressive result of lifestyle choices we make based on our personal philosophies; it’s why canine guardian fatness tends to parallel pet obesity.  Metabolic problems can begin to develop to make it difficult to shed the extra pounds in the initial stages of a weight loss program.  In other words, fatness creates the chemistry in the body that actually makes it difficult to shed unwanted pounds.  It’s no different from how fatness breeds more body fat in us.  The right food choices can help shift the metabolic momentum and adding the right supplements can further improve efficiencies.

If commitment to diet and exercise has been a challenge in the past, here’s something to consider.  Make it about Fido.  Choose grain-free, meat based food for him while you craft your own program.  Commit to a daily walk with your canine companion regardless of weather or time availability – just make it happen each and every day.  Evolve the walk to variable terrain speed-walking finding all the hills in your neighbourhood.

Fido can be the most reliable training partner you’ll ever have and the time spent out on that brisk walk can make for an unbreakable bond.  Start slow and keep it simple; add hills after a few weeks.  In a month pick up the pace and even begin to alternate a running block with a walking block  Most importantly enjoy your relationship and bond with your dog and make this focus the new reason to stay with an exercise program that benefits you both.  Make fatness to fitness your personal ‘trickle-down effect’!