Saturday, January 14, 2012

He Just Won't EAT!

Me:  "So, Mrs. Feeder, as I've explained, Tubby's blood panel is totally normal.  All three of his physical examinations also have been normal since you became concerned about his decreased appetite and energy level, with the exception that his weight has gone up by over a pound each visit, and now he's obese!  You've only owned him for six months!  Clearly, he's been eating MORE than enough.  He should be eight pounds, yet now he has climbed to TWELVE and a half.  Yes, he doesn't play like he used to, because he's carrying half again what he should in body weight."

Mrs. Feeder:  "But he just doesn't ever finish his food!  I don't think he likes that dry food, so I give him half of one of those little square packages of wet food with half a cup of the dry.  But he never finishes!  I'm so worried about him.  He just doesn't seem to want to eat or play!"

Me:  "Well, SEE there?  *MY* little dog is TEN pounds, and I only feed her 1/3 of a cup of dry food twice daily, and that's IT.  NO treats, NO wet food..."

Feeder (interrupting):  "Oh GOODNESS you only feed her TWICE a DAY?!  I thought dogs need to eat like us!  I feed Tubby four times a day!"

Me: <facepalm>

Sigh.  How much do you wanna bet Tubby weighs 15 pounds next visit? 

PSA:  if you try to convince your dog to eat TEN TIMES his caloric needs every day, his appetite JUST might peter out at some point.  This is *not*, in fact, inappetence.  This is your dog saying "OMG I'm so full I think I'm gonna hurl right now.  Puh-LEEEEEZE not to ask me to eat any more, nice lady!"


  1. My first month in practice I saw a 25 pound miniature dachshund for an annual. As I braced myself to hoist him onto the table, the owner asked me "Gee, doc. Do you think he's getting enough to eat?". I almost laughed, thinking he was making a joke, but fortunately I restrained myself. In the conversation that followed, i learned that because the dog "never finishes his food" the owner has been trying to make sure he's getting enough calories by supplementing his food with butter and lard (in addition to a few sprinkles of meat and cheese to make it more tempting). The owner was deeply concerned that his furry footstool was wasting away.

  2. I worked for a doctor that never enforced diets. He never once told his clients that their pets needed to lose weight, ever. The head receptionist told me it was because the doctor felt it was rude and he didn't want to offend them. So I was told to tell the owner, "God made Fluffy that way she isn't overweight at all!"

  3. We deal with daily. I think there are several problems. One of the underlying issues is the dog food bag recommendations. Whatever dogs they calculated the metabolic need for calories on is not my typical patient. 90% of my patients fed more then 1/2 of what the bag (assuming they are on kibble) suggests will become obese.
    And then when people start adding calorie dense people food the poor dogs just cannot burn all that off.
    People, bless their hearts, want their dogs to eat. I want my dogs to eat. If they don't scarf their food down I know something is wrong. However if that happens I will evaluate a number of factors to determine what the problem is.

    If your vet doesn't tell you their opinion on your pet's weight, please ask. Now human nature suggests only those that think their pet is normal is likely to ask, but try to ask anyway. It's for your dear sweet pet's best interest. Your pet will have less health problems that they will have a longer, healthier life. Isn't that what you want?

    1. I went to a CE session once and learned that apparently the food bag recommendations are based on intact animals. Since most our pet populations nowadays are mostly spayed/neutered, their metabolic rate is much slower than that of inact animals, the recommendation obviously does not apply to them. I think. Either that or owners use giant mugs for measuring cups.

  4. I treated a Miniature Dachshund (for acute hind limb paralysis, of course) that was easily twice the size it should have been. In getting the patient history, I found that the owners were so worried that it didn't eat with enough gusto in the morning that they poured the leftover bacon grease over the kibble. Every morning. I don't think my attempts to educate made any dent.

  5. My record was a client with two dachshunds that individually (not in toto) weighed over 40 lbs. They were literally high-centered, and could not walk. After I read her the riot act, she actually managed to get them down to a healthy weight, which impressed me no end.

  6. I don't think that many of us Americans know what a normal weight looks like on a cat or dog. When I see a normal weight--the client is always complaining about how emaciated the pet looks (some even complain of their pet being emancipated ;)).

    I agree brneyes213 pet food bags recommend the food needed for a super athlete.

  7. I have been know to roll down my car window to compliment a owner on their properly weighted pet.

    I normally start my BCS discussion with "We as Americans both 2 and 4 legged tend to be a little on the over weight side... take the food bag's recommendation with a grain of salt, as obese patients eat more therefor buy more food...."

    Your slightly sassy Licensed Vet Tech