In search of ponies: Pet obesity likely human’s fault

Mmm… Cheese balls, cookies, dips, turkey, smooth, creamy gravy, stuffing and potatoes, and let's not forget that fruit cake, dense and rich enough to sustain a small country for a couple weeks…

Yeah, this time of year things are good around the table, and the table legs.

A truly lucky pooch or kitty might even strike it rich and run across an abandoned full plate left behind by a distracted kiddo off to test the new toys.

And, like their human counterparts, many a fur ball can be found groaning belly up in some warm and cozy spot as testament to the good eats.

Perhaps it is as they mill about; weaving in and out of your guests feet that you notice their heads have shrunken.

Or maybe it's when that guest that hasn't been by for months pipes up as your pooch snatches the rewards of a well-executed beg from their hand.

"Your dog's putting on a little weight, isn't she?"

And all of a sudden you know you weren't imagining it, your pooch's gut really is dragging the ground.

Contrary to what you may want to believe, sadly, just like when you let that belt out one more notch, it didn't happen over the holidays. Probability dictates it was more of a slow and steady kind of thing.

Funny thing about pets, some can really pack it on, while others seem to keep that girlish/boyish figure till the day they depart us.

Of course there is no simple reason, and they, just like people, are slave to a slew of variables not the least of which include diet, exercise, health conditions and the easy scapegoat — genetics.

Common, many of us feed the same amount of the same food every day only to one day see the pet suddenly and mysteriously tip over a physique precipice.

Fat fur balls are common enough in fact, someone (the marketing research company Kelton Global to be exact) actually ranked the cities with the chubbiest pets, with Los Angeles winning the number one slot, trailed by 16 other overweight pet meccas.

Of course, just as with humans, thyroid issues and other factors can lead to sudden weight changes and a vet is really the best to evaluate what's going on if something seems a miss.

However, topping the list of reasons why an estimated one in three US dogs is overweight or obese is, you guessed it, their humans.

Just as we like to cover our own plates, dogs, it seems, don't need near as many calories as we think they do, with recommendations ranging from 185-1,100 calories a day, depending on weight — significantly less than the full Folgers can that goes in the bowl twice a day.

And while the same is true for cats — they don't want you to know this, but they will not perish if the bowl isn't full at all times — they get far more carbohydrates than they need in most dry foods and yes, those carbs turn into bellies that drag the floor.

Add to all the feasting the fact that pets (like people), often develop inertia as they get older and will not act unless acted upon, it may be time to shake that leash and roll that ball, cause they probably (like people) would rather just stay on the couch.

Where the motivation is lacking, look at it this way: with shorter or accelerated life spans (perspective of preference as you please) whatever is happening to the pet's physique is probably happening to their person's physique, albeit at a slower rate.

So, while blaming the holidays is certainly easy, perhaps it's all those other days that are really the culprits, which can mean only one thing — stop filling the bowl (plate) and get off the couch so that come the holidays, Fido (and his human) can enjoy all the good eats with no remorse.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: or on the web at:

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