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11 pet experts expose common myths about dogs and cats

Fact Vs. Fiction

What is best for our furry family members?  The internet is rife with conflicting advice and home remedies. I know it’s not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, but Creature Clinic is here to help! We’ve asked some top pet experts to share and debunk common myths they deal with every day.

I know you’re an awesome pet owner/parent.  If you weren’t you wouldn’t have clicked on this article and you wouldn’t be spending valuable time here that could have been allocated to hilarious cat videos on YouTube.  I put this post together because everyone makes mistakes. For years I “ignored” my dog’s anxious behaviour during thunderstorms instead of comforting her, because I was afraid of “reinforcing” the behaviour and making it worse.  Now I know that you can’t really reward a phobia. It’s like my fear of spiders.  If I see a spider and freak out, it doesn’t matter if someone offers me a cookie or slaps me, either way I will still be scared of spiders next time.  The way they act may, however, influence the way I feel about them!

The most important thing is that we do the best that we can. And when we know better, we do better.

know better do better

In the spirit of learning so we can all know better, please let me introduce you to some of my heroes.  I am so honored to have these clever pet experts here today to weigh in with their top pet myths.  I hope you learn something new, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section at the end.

If any of these amazing pet people aren’t already on your radar, I strongly recommend you drop by their websites or follow them on social media.  You won’t regret it!

This post has become a little bit epic, so you can jump straight to your expert of choice from here should you choose.


Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Dr Jessica Vogelsang Pet Myth

The number one myth I see with my patients is the idea that just because a pet isn’t vocalizing or obviously limping, he or she is not in pain. Oftentimes people don’t realize that chronic pain and acute pain are very different beasts, and the vast majority of time older pets in chronic pain from conditions like osteoarthritis will have much more subtle signs that they are in pain. Decreased activity levels, decreased appetite, failure to jump onto beds or counters when they once did so all the time, and even increased aggression, can often be attributed to levels of pain that have gone undetected by the owner. Since veterinarians are trained to recognize and isolate these signs of illness, any change from your pet’s baseline level of behavior should be brought to her attention. Chronic pain stinks, but there’s lots we can do to help!

Dr Jessica Vogelsang
Dr Jessica vogelsang pawcurious all dogs go to kevinDr. Jessica Vogelsang is one of the most widely read veterinarians on the web.  A graduate of the prestigious UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine with experience in both emergency and general practice, Dr. V started her award winning website, Pawcurious, in 2009 as a way to share her love of animals with the world. Quickly recognized as an entertaining and informative voice in the pet world, Dr. V has become a sought-after contributor in print, video, and radio. She has recently published a fantastic book – All Dogs Go to Kevin.

Find Dr V: Pawcurious | Facebook | Twitter

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Dr Kersti Seksel

Kersti Seksel pet myth

Sadly, owners are still being told that their dog is being dominant and that they need to be more assertive.  They are told their dog does not respect them and that is why the dog is barking, mouthing, biting, being destructive, or any number of other problems (take your pick) that owners have with their dog’s behaviour.

We now know that the reason that many dogs behave in ways that are unacceptable to their owner has more to do with anxiety, a medical and mental health issue, than it has to do with training (or lack thereof). In fact, many behaviours are made worse when inappropriate methods of training such as “showing the dog who is boss,” being the “leader of the pack,” etc. are used. Some methods – especially those that use punishment – can border on abuse.

Managing anxiety issues in dogs involves 3 things:

  • Managing the environment
  • Modifying the behaviour
  • Judicious use of medication.

Owners would laugh if they were told that training is all they need to treat their dog’s diabetes or broken leg. They would also laugh they were told that the reason that their dog had cancer or thyroid disease was because they were not assertive enough or let the dog sleep on the couch. Yet this is exactly what owners hear every day about their dog’s behaviour.

Mental health issues are common in dogs and need to be diagnosed and treated by veterinarians for the sake of the dog’s welfare.

A great book for learninng more:
Decoding Your Dog: Explaining Common Dog Behaviors and How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

Dr Kersti Seksel
Dr Kerstis Seksel veterinary behaviourist Kersti is the world’s only triply boarded specialist in animal behaviour. She is a Fellow of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Animal Behaviour, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine.

Kersti is the principal of a specialist practice in behavioural medicine in Sydney, Australia. She pioneered Puppy Preschool® and Kitten Kindy® classes to help owners and their pets understand each other better so that they can live together in harmony.  She has presented at and been the key note speaker at numerous conferences nationally and internationally. She regularly runs webinars, has written many text book chapters, written a book, Training Your Cat, writes for Dog’s Life magazine, and is a consultant on VIN (Veterinary Information Network).

Find Dr Kersti Seksel: Sydney Animal Behaviour Service

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Dr Andy Roark

Dr Andy Roark Pet Myth

The myth that I want busted is that big veterinarian and veterinary technician salaries are the reason that pet healthcare is expensive. Veterinarians make about as much as pharmacists, and they often have crippling debt. It’s not uncommon at all for vet students to graduate and have debt loads 3 to 5 times greater than what their annual salary will be. For technicians, it’s just as bad. I’m personally embarrassed by what we as a profession pay the technicians who work themselves to death to make our practices go. It’s our greatest shame.

I know pet owners have it hard too, and I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad or to come off like I’m whining. We as veterinarians and technicians are capable of making our own decisions and we have chosen the life that we have. I personally have no regrets at all. I want this myth busted because there is nothing worse than working yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally threadbare while struggling to make ends meet just to have someone tell you that they believe their pet didn’t get the best care possible because you are “greedy.” This myth needs to end.

Dr Andy Roark
Dr Andy Roark VeterinarianDr. Andy Roark is a practicing veterinarian, international speaker, author, and media personality. He is an award-winning columnist for DVM360 and has a successful online training course for veterinarians and veterinary teams.

Dr. Roark’s popular Facebook page has over 165,000 fans, he is the host of the popular YouTube show Cone of Shame, and his humorous educational videos have been viewed millions of times.

Find Dr Andy Roark: Dr Andy Roark | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube 

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Dr Anne Fawcett

Dr Anne Fawcett Pet Myth

The number one myth about pets that I’d like busted is that pets are all well cared for. When we think about animal welfare we tend to think more broadly about the welfare of farm and laboratory animals, or stray animals, or wildlife. Just because someone lives in your back yard or lounge room, however, does not mean that their welfare is optimal.
I think we can improve the welfare of companion animals by appreciating that these are complex creatures with species-specific and individual needs. They do an incredible job assimilating into our lives – but can we do better by providing environmental enrichment, the ability for them to express their own unique behaviours (many creatures need to nest, for example) or even studying their behaviour. After a lifetime of education (so far!) I feel there is so much more to learn about the non-human critters I live and work with. I would encourage pet owners to keep an open mind, be prepared to revise their attitudes in the light of new evidence, and try to think about what the home environment is like from an animal’s perspective.

Dr Anne Fawcett
Dr Anne Fawcett veterinarianDr Anne Fawcett is a Sydney-based companion animal veterinarian and blogger. Before she became a veterinarian she was on track to become a philosopher – so she remains interested in the big questions, especially in veterinary ethics which she also teaches at the University of Sydney. When she isn’t working in practice, she enjoys photography (mostly animals), writing (mostly about animals) and spending quality time with her cats Mike and Hero, Maltese terrier Phil, guinea pigs Osler, Randy and Cornflake, and occasionally foster bearded dragons.

Find Dr Anne Fawcett: Small Animal Talk | Facebook 

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Dr Pete Wedderburn

Dr Pete the vet pet myth

One of the biggest challenges that I see in practice is overweight pets that suffer because of their increased body mass. I see 20 kg pug crosses, waddling around with their already-compromised brachycephalic breathing aggravated by the compression of their airways by body fat. I see 50 kg Labradors struggling to stand up because their arthritis is made worse by the pressure of an extra 5 – 10 kg on their painful joints. I see grossly obese cats who refuse to get out of their beds because it is such an effort to move their lard-filled bodies. Obese pets present a daily insult to animal welfare, with the bizarre twist that they are genuinely loved by their owners.

And this is where the myth comes in: When I discuss nutrition with these owners, they tell me that their pet barely eats anything at all. They tell me that they offer their pet low calorie dried food, but they only eat a small amount. They then tell me that they need to tempt their pet to eat, hand feeding them with tasty treats like left overs from the human plate.

The truth that these well-meaning people cannot understand is that the reason their pet is not eating the standard rations is simple: They are not hungry because they do not need the food. They are overweight, and their body is telling them “you do not need to eat”. Offering tasty treats to these pets is like offering sweets or ice cream to children: They will never say no. And the extra calories in the treats aggravate the serious issue of carrying too much body fat. These owners genuinely worry that if they don’t tempt their pets to eat, they will suffer hunger and perhaps malnutrition.

To correct this myth, I simply tell people the truth: If your pet refuses to eat the pet food that you are offering, in most cases the worst that will happen is what you actually want to happen: They will lose weight. The answer is simple: You just need to stop feeding them anything other than the standard rations. But the myth is so strong that I don’t think they believe me. The challenge of helping owners deal with pet obesity would be much easier, and the suffering of pampered pets would be significantly eased if this myth was not so widely held.

Of course it’s still necessary to be humane and sensible about doing this, making it a gradual process of treat reduction so that the animal accustomises to the situation. And it’s important to remember that a pet can be inappetant because of underlying illness, so a veterinary check is the safest option rather than just assuming that your pet is “being fussy”. And finally, there is one important exception to the rule: if obese cats stop eating completely, they can start to burn up fat so quickly that toxic by products of fat metabolism can cause them to become dangerously ill. So while it still makes sense to reduce the amount of “tasty food” fed, this needs to be done very cautiously with cats, under close veterinary supervision.

Dr Pete Wedderburn
Dr Pete Wedderburn veterinarianPete Wedderburn (Pete the Vet) works in his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian in Ireland and the UK, with a weekly breakfast television slot on Irish television for the past fourteen years. Pete is a prolific writer on animal topics, with weekly columns in the Irish Evening Herald and the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Find Dr Pete Wedderburn: Pete the Vet | Facebook | Twitter 

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Laura Vissaritis

Laura Vissaritis Dognitive Therapy pet myth

Almost every behaviour we see in our dogs is a reflection of our relationship with them. Certainly, behaviours are influenced by a combination of factors including genetics, however there is increasing supporting evidence that dog behaviour, regardless of genetics, can be modified through their environment.

As their owners, we are the ones making the decisions for our dogs, so let’s start to make good decisions. I have three tips that will get you on track…

  1. With each behaviour you see from your dog, ask why it happened and then answer from your dog’s point of view. Empathy helps us become not only better dog owners, but better people. This is what I love about animals, they can teach us to be better people.
    If it is a behaviour you want, reinforce it with what your dog wants. Sometimes, people don’t understand what their dog loves and therefore can’t reinforce the behaviour. For instance, I have seen some people try to train their dog without food, even though their dog is highly food motivated. It’s kind of like being asked to work, but not getting paid and instead, getting a pat on the back. Would you spend your days working hard just for that?
  2. Reward your dog intermittently with what they love. Write down all the things your dog loves to do/eat and use these as rewards, not freebies.
  3. Capture the behaviours you want. I focus on the good, not the ‘bad’ behaviours. Our dogs do something great at least 50 times a day, but we tend to ignore those times and focus on the negative behaviours. Capture when your dog is
  • calm
  • compliant
  • making the right choice.

Showing our dog what we want and reinforcing those behaviours helps our dog make the right choices more and more often.

Use your dog’s daily intake of food as 50 small treats each day and capture all the good stuff they offer you.

Laura Vissaritis
Laura Vissaritis webLaura Vissaritis (B.A., Post Grad Dip Ed., Melbourne Zoo., Cert III Dog Behaviour and Training NDTF) is a qualified Dog Behaviourist and Trainer based in Melbourne, Australia.  Laura has been an Educator at Zoos Victoria since 2005 and has inspired and taught hundreds of thousands of children and adults on wildlife conservation. It was here that her passion for building empathy for animals on the brink of extinction began and evolved into a personal dedication and love for dogs and their welfare.  Now an expert in behaviour modification of aggressive dogs in particular, Laura has successfully helped countless owners and their dogs across the world.

Find Laura Vissaritis: Dognitive Therapy | Facebook | YouTube 

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Dr Justine Lee

Dr Justine Lee vetgirl pet myth

As a veterinary specialist, my goal is to help your pet be healthy and happy! So, one of my biggest pet peeves is the myth that you “love” your pet more by feeding it more snacks and treats. Pet obesity is one of the biggest growing problems all over the world, with over 40-70% of pets in the United States being over 20% of their ideal body weight. Long-term studies have shown that the skinnier you keep your dog, the longer they live (on average, over 1.2 years!). Keeping your pet on the thin side also minimizes the risk of osteoarthritis, back pain, ACL tears, diabetes mellitus, and extra strain on the cardiopulmonary and neuromuscular systems.

The second myth about pets that I want busted? The rumor that the #1 cause of pets being surrendered to shelters is due to pet overpopulation. It’s actually due to irresponsible pet owners who surrender their pets for behavioral problems (e.g., they didn’t have time for the pet, they didn’t appropriately crate train or obedience train the puppy, etc.). My general veterinary rule? If you can’t exercise your dog for 30 minutes a day, you shouldn’t get a dog.

Dr Justine Lee
Dr Justine Lee vet girlDr. Justine Lee, DACVECC, DABT, is the CEO and founder of VETgirl, a subscription-based podcast & webinar service offering online veterinary continuing education. She is a board-certified veterinary specialist in emergency critical care and toxicology. Dr. Lee is the author of two humorous pet reference books entitled It’s a Dog’s Life…but It’s Your Carpet and It’s a Cat’s World…You Just Live in It.

Find Dr Justine Lee: Dr Justine Lee | VETgirl | Facebook | Twitter

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Dr Jo Righetti

Dr Jo Righetti pet myth

Cat owners are every bit as bonded to their cat as dog owners are to their dogs. Cats are our feline friends. Here’s how we know…

  • Cats recognise the sound of their owner’s voice, often responding with a little cat chatter of their own. This solicitation meow or purr encourages us to give them attention or feed them.
  • While cats may appear to ignore us, it’s just that they acknowledge us in a cat-like manner, with a flick of their ear. Cats have 32 muscles in each ear so, while we might interpret this solitary ear movement as a very conservative use of energy (ie. lazy!), we should remind ourselves that this is actually an animated feline.
  • Most cats save their affection for their owners. The exception to this, of course, is the cat who makes a bee-line straight for the person who dislikes cats! Trying to avoid eye contact may actually encourage the cat to approach!
  • Cats love giving head butts, rubbing against you, padding their paws on your lap or sitting on your chest. All that smooching ensures your cat is adorning you with their scent, claiming ownership of you.
Wear your cat perfume with pride. Be a slave to your cat! Admire your cat’s elegance and their independent nature. Cats bring us increased creativity and intelligence, as well as good health and wellbeing.

What’s not to love!

Dr Jo Righetti
Dr Jo Righetti Pet Problems SolvedDr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviour consultant, helping pet owners understand their pets and solving pet issues. Jo works with commercial companies, local governments, not-for-profit organisations and media and has many solutions for pet problems on her website Pet Problems Solved. Jo lives with a 2 cats, a dog and 5 chooks.

Find Dr. Jo Righetti: Pet Problems Solved | Facebook | Twitter 

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Carol Bryant

Carol Bryant Fidose of Reality pet myth

Putting your hand(s) on a dog as a form of punishment is not only wrong but is harmful to the relationship you want with your dog. Counterproductive in fact.

In her book, It’s Me or the Dog, famed positive reinforcement trainer and star of her own dog behavior show on Animal Planet, Victoria Stilwell, writes, “When you hit a dog, you teach him to fear you, break his trust, and you weaken his confidence. Insecure dogs are the ones who are more likely to lash out in an aggressive display.”

A few years ago, I was out walking my dog. I witnessed a man chasing his dog down the street. Ever the “I’ll help, be right there” person that I am, my random act of kindness was quickly thwarted by a slap.

The dog apparently got loose while on a walk and his owner was chasing after him. As he scooped the little guy up (a Shih Tzu mix perhaps), he smacked the dog on the butt and repeatedly yelled over and over “No! No! No!” and jerked the dog close to him.

I yelled over “hey” and before a second word could float his way, he picked his dog up and quickly walked off, perhaps caught in the act or just not wanting to deal with an obviously stunned me.

Some people don’t want to hear it. My friends tell me someone is going to turn on me someday, with my crusading to educate and help save a dog. I wonder if my words help or hurt that dog when the owner gets behind closed doors.

I can’t do nothing. That means I don’t care. I care so much that a life with, for, and by dogs is my career choice. I never do anything with half measures. And I won’t start now.

Carol Bryant
Carol Bryant Fidose of RealityA dog lover of the highest order  is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. She is the founder of Fidose of Reality, and has contributed to numerous pet publications, including Hamptons Pet, Dogster, Pet360, and BlogPaws. The fundraising arm of her blog is Wigglebutt Warriors®, which has raised over $50,000 for dog rescue groups.

Find Carol Bryant: Fidose of Reality | Facebook | Twitter 

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Michelle Monk

Michelle Monk pet myth

This is a common misconception by vets and pet owners.

When your dog injures its cruciate ligament, this causes pain, swelling and inflammation. Often this is displayed as limping or in extreme cases, your pet won’t use its leg. The body’s reaction to the pain is to shut down the muscle fibres nearby. The muscles – particularly on the front of the thigh – can look as though they waste away overnight. If your dog has surgery this problem is made even worse by the surgical incision.  This is tricky business – your dog needs the surgery, but the process itself causes the muscles to switch off or become inhibited.

Contrary to the popular belief that these muscles will fire back up again and go back to working just with walking, this is not the case.

If we examine the thigh muscle mass in a dog that has had cruciate surgery, with no rehabilitation, even at a year post surgery we would find a discrepancy in the muscle mass.  Your dog, however, may appear to be managing fine. They have 3 other limbs to shift the load around to.

The consequences are that the other limbs are preferentially loaded when the surgical leg becomes tired. This can contribute to your dog injuring the cruciate ligament in the other knee.

So what to do? Your dog, just like you if you have a knee surgery, should have a specific and structured rehabilitation program. This involves treatment and exercises to re-activate the affected muscles, then help rehabilitate your dog back towards normal muscle mass, and normal function, along with prevention of further injury. This can be provided by an Animal Physiotherapist or a Vet qualified as a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist.

Remember, walking and swimming are low-load, high repetition exercises – they build endurance, not muscle mass. The only way to regain muscle mass is with targeted rehabilitation exercises.

Michelle Monk
Michelle Monk Dogs in MotionMichelle Monk is a physiotherapist with a Masters degree in Animal Physiotherapy. For the last 13 years she has worked solely with animals and has helped over 1100 pets get back on their feet, and back to enjoying the things they love to do with their owners. Her award winning research on rehabilitation after cruciate ligament surgery has been published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research. She is the owner and director of Dogs In Motion Canine Rehabilitation in Victoria, Australia. She enjoys treating patients in the clinic along with teaching rehabilitation techniques to vets and physiotherapists.

Find Michelle Monk: Dogs in Motion

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Dr Belinda Parsons

Dr Belinda Parsons Pet Myth

Whilst the main reason that I treat pets with acupuncture is for musculoskeletal problems (including arthritis), it is not the only reason I reach for my acupuncture needles. Acupuncture can be effective at reducing the symptoms of stress, controlling seizures and treating and reducing the recurrence of cystitis in cats. It also can help increase appetite (particularly in cats in renal failiure), relieve nausea (think chemo patients), and increase gastric motility (which is great for bunnies with gastric stasis).

I have used it to help treat dental pain, stimulate breathing in puppies and kittens post caesarean section, and in emergency medicine to increase heart rate, stimulate respiration and improve blood pressure. GV26 (the needle in the nose), has been studied and proven to help increase heart rate, increases stroke volume, increases mean arterial pressure and reduces peripheral resistance. There is also an 88% response rate to apnoea compared to placebo acupuncture.

Acupuncture can do so much more than just provide relief from the symptoms of arthritis.  Whilst it is the most common condition I treat with acupuncture, by far it is not the only one.

Dr Belinda Parsons
Dr Belinda Parsons veterinarianDr Belinda Parsons BVSc CVA
Dr Belinda Parsons is a small animal veterinarian and General Manager at her veterinary practice in Sydney, Australia. She has been a certified Veterinary Acupuncturist since 2007 and is currently on the Board of the Australian College of Veterinary Acupuncture (ACVA).

She lives in Sydney with her family and their 18 year old rescue dog Jack, and she has had a passion for animals as long as she can remember. In her limited spare time she moonlights as Dr Belinda The Vet on her blog and social media channels.

Find Dr. Belinda Parsons: Dr. Belinda the Vet | Facebook | Twitter

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So What Did You Think?

I think our experts did a pawesome job in debunking their chosen pet myths! Did you learn something you didn’t know before?

Remember, I love comments and questions, so please feel free to add yours below. I read every single one.

Give your pets a cuddle from me.

Joanna Paul

Dr. Joanna Paul BVSc (hons) BSc

Jo is a practicing small animal veterinarian based in Melbourne, Australia. Working in partnership with loving pet owners to ensure their fur-kids remain happy, healthy family members life-long is what brings her joy. Well, that and taking naps. Jo strongly believes that helping to maintain the wonderful bond between a pet and their human is reason enough for a happy dance.

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Showing 16 comments
  • Anne

    Great roundup! Happy to meet these experts and learn more about them! Thanks!

  • Jan

    An interesting read, some of which I’ve known of. But the one I will comment on is the “cost’ of Vets and Techs. True, they do have high debt in this field but some really do over charge and take advantage of the pet owners strong emotional bond they have with their pets!! I left my vet of many years due to an over charge on not ONCE but TWICE which I called on and was corrected. The trust was broken so I went to another and now THIS ONE is now charging a fee for needles that were given “free” to me to use on my cat for the fluids I now have to give her for the rest of her life.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Jan,
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. i’m sorry to hear about your negative experiences – trust really is so important. Sometimes the biggest problem is not how much a vet cares or how much they know, but how well they communicate. Miscommunication, especially over the cost of services, is the most common reason for complaints against vets. I really hope you can find a vet you can form a good, trusting relationship with, because they will be your partner in caring for your cat, especially if there are ongoing medical needs.
      All the best.

  • Reply

    Great post, Dr. Jo! The section on veterinary acupuncture was especially fascinating. I had no idea acupuncture could be used to treat cystitis, or that it could have such a dramatic effect on the cardiovascular system. It’s great that it’s becoming a more mainstream option of treatment for pets. Thank you (and all your contributors) for such excellent information! 🙂

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Camille,
      Thank you so much! Acupuncture is definitely worth considering as part of an overall treatment plan in the right situations. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • Connie

    Quote: If your pet refuses to eat the pet food that you are offering, the worst that will happen is what you actually want to happen: They will lose weight.

    Actually I think that is a dangerous over simplification of the body.. cats in particular suffer from fatal issues if they go without eating or getting adequate nutrition for extended periods of time. I understand the point behind this statement, but this is the internet.. someone is going to see that and use it as justification to not make sure their pet is properly fed.

    and thank you Dr. Jo for your contribution.. it was so nice to see it.

    • Pete Wedderburn

      Good point Lily and Connie and I’ll amend my entry to take account of that. I was talking specifically about tubby dogs that are hand fed by owners but I ought to point out the exception to the rule which you’ve highlighted. Leave it with me!

  • lily flanagan

    Great information! My only concern is the advice that says “they will eat when they are hungry.” This may put cats at risk for hepatic lipidosis.

    • Pete Wedderburn

      Good point Lily and I’ll amend my entry to take account of that.

  • Carol Bryant

    I am so honored to be included and I love the other amazing replies here. Obesity is an epidemic – we are over treating our furry family members, quite literally, to death. I am also thrilled to see Michelle Monk’s reply about ACL surgery. As dog mom to a Cocker who underwent bilateral ACL repair, a year apart, we did physical therapy and he is doing quite well. Thank you for this – one of my fave posts of the year!

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Carol, I’m SO happy you agreed to take part. I have an enormous amount of respect for you and everything you do for dogs. Thank you for the lovely feedback – now I’m blushing! 🙂

  • Karen

    Great article, and I loved Michelle Monk’s point that muscles don’t automatically bounce back after surgery. I see the same thing in the human world, so it’s a good reminder that surgery must be followed by a program of exercises…

    • Joanna Paul

      Thanks Karen!
      It’s actually not something a lot of people probably think about, but cruciate injuries as SO common in dogs – it’s great to be able to help spread this important advice 🙂

  • Lynda Robertson

    Very informative. Discussing obesity with people about their pets is always tricky; they can get insulted. I have however, as I’ve gotten older (and tired of seeing the mass of ill and fat pets parading through the clinic) become more blunt. Your pet needs to go on a diet. If they don’t want to switch foods fine, feed less…start by measuring the food each day – two meals a day – and remove one row of kibble off whatever your scoop is. When they say they barely eat I now say “Well they’re eating something somewhere! They’re fat and you don’t get that way during a hunger strike”
    I add some humour but we, as an industry, can’t let it slide any more because a client’s nose gets out of joint. They’re killing their beloved pet with over feeding.

    • Joanna Paul

      Thanks Lynda. It can be so difficult, can’t it. I am generally just really matter of fact about it. I show the owners how to feel the ribs and assess the waistline and gently explain why the excess weight is a problem. Of course there will still be some people who get offended and others who just nod and smile but don’t want to hear it. A few months ago I saw a dog whose death I could 100% attribute to morbid obesity. It was heartbreaking. And these owners really, really loved their dog. I just don’t think anyone had gotten through to them.

      • Connie

        not necessarily. A lot of ‘diet’ food for cats are completely inappropriate and are full of carbohydrates which tend to cause a cat to put on weight. Overweight cats who eat a high animal based diet with little to no plant based ingredients and high moisture tend to lose weight naturally..

        Personally I followed a low calorie diet and lost a lot of weight until my body said ‘enough’ and started shutting down. I was tired all the time, could barely function enough to get to work let alone do much else, and the worst part was I started putting on weight despite having a calorie deficit each and every day. There is far far more to weight loss than the simple mathematical equation of calories in vs calories out.. that is why the body is under biology and not arthritic.

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