Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obesity, Obstinance, and Obfuscation

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that obesity has become one of the biggest public health problems in the United States over the past couple of decades. Interestingly, it isn't only a problem for homo sapiens - it's affecting our household pets, too. Any of you who treat pets here in the USA are probably nodding your heads right now. Dogs whose ligaments rupture under the strain of an extra 75 lbs on a skeleton that should only be carrying 70 lbs to start with... cats who can't muster the strength to drag their flabby butts over the lip of the litter pan... and they are almost invariably accompanied to my office by owners who state "but I hardly feed him ANYTHING! how can he be fat?" It's a common story, and a sad one.

Of course, Big Pharma would love to find the Magic Anti-Fat Pill, and I'm sure that they've been working night and day to come up with it because along the way, they've found Slentrol. Slentrol is a Magic Anti-Fat Pill for dogs.* Dogs who take Slentrol as instructed DO LOSE WEIGHT! They feel full, because the drug works on the intestinal level to stimulate a feeling of satiety. They eat less. The pounds come off. A dog taking Slentrol as instructed will generally reach his target weight within 6-12 months, depending of course on individual factors.

Discussing obesity with the owners of fat dogs is kinda touchy. In particular if the owner is also obese, the vet might feel really awkward raising the subject. Also if the veterinarian is obese, it can be difficult to bring it up. But I find that most of my own clients, when I simply state that their dog is clinically 20% or more over his ideal weight, are genuinely interested in trying to address it - or at least they CLAIM to be. Sometimes, they go ahead and start Slentrol right away, and I think everything will be great....until their first recheck. Then, the owners bring them in, full of concern. "He's not eating!" they say. Well, yes, he is eating. He is eating a *normal* amount of food. "But it's only 1/2 cup! He usually eats 4 cups a day, now just 1/2 cup!" they cry. But, see -- the dog was packing on excess pounds eating 4 cups a day. Four cups a day was KILLING the dog. Now the dog is losing weight, looking great, and becoming more energetic, able to run and play instead of lying on the floor 23 hours a day. Which brings up the other complaint - "my dog is hyper on this drug!" *sigh* Anyone who, like me, has had the personal experience of losing a few of those extra pounds will understand immediately that those extra pounds can really sap your strength and energy levels, and that once they're gone, you feel a lot more energetic. This is also true of our furry friends!

Once a dog has reached his target weight, the Slentrol program requires a 3-month maintenance phase. Zoetis originally wanted to call this the "Owner Retraining Phase," but apparently that was deemed inappropriate by the Political Correctness in Big Pharma task force. Still, it's a period of time in which the owner learns by direct observation exactly how much food is appropriate for the dog to eat, to maintain the ideal body weight. After the 3 months is over, the Slentrol is withdrawn - and the dog will be hungry again! But hopefully the owner will be able to stay strong and just keep feeding the right amount of food.

We sometimes see situations where a dog taking Slentrol will start defending his food from his canine housemates who come to scope out his leftovers. "Slentrol made my dog food-aggressive" is the presenting complaint. Well, no it didn't! Your dog was always food-aggressive, there just never was any leftover food to defend because he always scarfed it down in five seconds!!! Address the food aggression with behavioral modification techniques or by separating the dogs when food is out, but don't let your dog get dangerously obese again just because Slentrol has unmasked his previously occult food aggression.

What's most interesting to me & my fellow VBB is the large number of people who seem truly distressed at seeing their dog's appetite decrease. Food is clearly equated with love, and a big canine appetite is equated with acceptance and return of that love. The majority of Slentrol failures happen when people stop giving the drug because of this "side effect," which is of course not a "side effect" at all but rather the DESIRED effect of the drug!

I wish more people could recognize this in themselves, get over it, and allow their dogs to free themselves from the prison of obesity.

*NB: Slentrol is not actually magic. It is a drug that works pretty much as advertised, though. Please note that I do not now nor have I ever worked for Zoetis or any other pharmaceutical company. I don't get kickbacks from any drug company. I'm not on some secret "viral marketing" social media payroll, either. As far as the possibility of pro-Big-Pharma bias from li'l ol doc VBB here goes.... well, it's about as likely as it is that I will make a house call to cut the nails of your dangerously aggressive and untrained 198 lb Fila Brasiliero. In other words: I have no vested interest in promoting any Zoetis product. Thank you for your time.


  1. Hahaha!! THis made me laugh. Especially the note about the Fila pedicure. Can we have that story please?

  2. On a more serious note: People have totally lost the concept of an appropriate portion size. Nor do they seem able to accept being hungry for a short time. The horror that is being expressed by so-called nutrition experts at the 5:2 fast diet idea backs that up. I gave up breakfast (again, I'd succumbed to the idea of breakfast being a Very Important Meal in weight loss but it failed dramatically) and weight is disappearing steadily. And that is with me still taking the prednisolone which is supposed to cause so much weight gain - and the first thing to disappear has been the apple shape! But now I am used to it, disposing of breakfast has also disposed of hunger pangs. Peckish? Not dinner time yet? A large glass of water or cup of tea (I'm British) does the trick.

    Italian mammas have the fixation of expressing love through their cooking - and here in Italy we are also seeing increases in weight at last as sugar replaces the plain savoury pasta and veg meals. Not here in the north where the kids are kicked out on their bikes/skis depending on the time of year or to work on the farm - but amongst southern Italians and Italians who moved here and remained "Italian" rather than adopting local more Germanic customs.

    And if the adult is hungry and addicted to having food on hand they assume their child or pet is too. I and my husband eat less than a normal restaurant plateful between us - so we often get 2 meals out of a meal out by asking to take it home when we have had different things. I never have understood the need for snacks at the cinema or in front of the TV - can anyone explain THAT to me? That's when you start to eat or drink more than you NEED - you aren't concentrating on the thing in your hand. I grew up in the 50s when there was very little food available in post-war Britain - you had breakfast (maybe, but not a lot), school lunch and a meal at night when we all got in. Nothing in between, there wasn't anything, and you were ready for that next meal - so you ate it and didn't throw it away. Prosperity has made large amounts of food possible - and it is a proof of being financially able. Shame really...

    1. So true. I have struggled with my weight all my life and looking back at my family's attitude towards food, I know why. I haven't taken a snack to the movies in years but when I go with my parents sometimes they even stop to get fast food to go with the candy and popcorn. When I was a kid, I thought this was great, now I can ony shake my head or try to gently remind my dad about his diabetes (while he counters "but it's only a little treat"). I did a fun run last year and when it finished there was a taco feast at the though running 3 miles required a feast as compensation. I think things are changing, but slowly.

      That said, I find that it's easier to eat healthy when I have 3 good meals and a couple of healthy snacks a day. Some people do fine without breakfast but many people are more likely to binge at lunch and dinner if they're hungry through the morning.

  3. I have to agree, the food culture we live in is just silly! When my daughter was small, we had to bring snacks to every after-school scout meeting and sports activity.

    I was rather bewildered to be told that my child couldn't wait *one extra hour* to be fed after school. What a bad Mommy I must have been! (Not to mention that "snack time" really cut into "activity time" for the kids.) Believe me, none of those kids were starving!