Friday, March 08, 2019

Obesity on Parade at Crufts: The Dog Show

This obese obscenity won best of breed for the Labrador Retriever at Crufts.

Right. This is a farm stock show, right? Wok the dog. Stir fry. Choice cut. Extra hoisin sauce. Heavily marbled. $10 a pound.

Of course this kind of rippling fat is not new either down or up the leash at Crufts. Back in 2015 I reported on a study that showed  25% percent of the the dogs at Crufts were obese

Was that true?

Probably, despite perfectly valid claims by the Kennel Club that the "study" lacked much scientific rigor.

Dr. Alex German, of Liverpool University's School of Veterinary Science, writes in the Veterinary Record

We found that 80% of pugs, 68% of basset hounds, and 63% of labradors were overweight. When we consider hounds and labradors were originally bred for hunting, bring in fishing haulage, and other fielding work, being overweight can be detrimental to their physiology and overall wellbeing.


So how can you tell if a dog is in proper weight? The back of the hand test is a pretty good one.

When your dog is too fat (and 40% of American dogs are obese!) you can feel a layer of fat over the ribs. If you want to know what a FAT dog feels like, run your fingers over the underside of your knuckles with your hand open, palm up.  Some dogs are actually so fat, their flesh feels like the padded base where the thumb meets the palm!

When your dog is the proper weight, you should be able to easily feel the ribs just under the skin, but there should be some muscling on top.  To get an idea of what that feels like, run your fingertips over the top of the knuckles of your flattened hand.

When your dog is too thin, you can easily feel the ribs, which will be quite pronounced. On a smooth-coated dog, four or more ribs will be visible even when the dog is not breathing heavily. To get an idea of what a too thin dog feels like, run your fingertips over the knuckles of your fist.

Most dogs should be run a little on the thin side, and most dogs deemed to be in proper weight are actually too fat.

In my experience, veterinarians are part of the problem; they are so used to seeing profoundly obese dogs that they have forgotten what proper weight looks like (if they ever knew) and do not talk with their clients about canine weight when dogs are merely plump and out of tone, and not yet morbidly obese.

If you read dog blogs and books, there is almost no chance your dog is too thin, and a very good chance that your dog is carrying excessive weight which you think is "fine".

In this regard, the normalization of fat dogs follows the normalization of fat people, and the health consequences for both are considerable -- joint stress, heart stress, shortened lifespan, and a less active lifestyle.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Actually, a bit of blubber was probably helpful for St John's dogs hauling fish in the Bay of Fundy...both for insulation and for floatation. Not to mention energy storage for long cold winters. I suspect that heritage is why Labs are so prone to carrying fat.
I have a Springer and 3 Labs... couldn't get the Springer fat if I tried. The Labs are a different story.