Reprinted with permission by Steve Kiges,Â http://www.theunreasonablelife.com
I was listening to a health show on the radio the other day and the host was interviewing a veterinarian on dog diseases and their prevention. He mentioned that one of the biggest problems for our pets is obesity. He went on to talk about a special canine weight loss diet; how nutritious it is and how your pet wonâ€™t be hungry or even know they are on a diet.
I found this quite amazing and almost humorous because if he would not have mentioned the words â€œpetâ€ or, â€œdogâ€ I would have sworn he was talking about human obesity and some miracle diet program that he was endorsing.
What is so interesting to me is that while the reasons for obesity are complex, there are some similar components in both humans and animals. The main aspect being family obesity and the emotional use of food for showing love and bonding.
Now please understand, I grew up in the perfect model of the obese family and in no way am blaming anyone that may be reading this. We all do the best we can in the moment and my writing is to raise awareness and not point blame. As a matter of fact, blame would only lead to an increase of bad feelings and not to an open curiosity which gives us the possibility of change.
In my family, food was used as a treat, for entertainment, for a symbol of love and when withheld, a symbol of punishment. This process is something I have had to work on continuously to not replicate with my own family.
When I see an obese dog or cat in addition to feeling badly for the animal, I am curious about its story… How is food used to communicate with this animal?… What are the motives of the owners? I have been at times flabbergasted, seeing animal owners laughing at their obese animal or putting the reason for the obesity on the animal…… something like ….â€Scruffyâ€ just canâ€™t stop eating. When I hear this I think, “Are you trying to tell me that while youâ€™re away at work ‘Scruffy’ is in the kitchen baking goodies or at night sneaking down and finishing off that apple pie in the fridge?”
My wife and I have been dog owners for the last 20 years, the last dog being a blond lab, so I understand that almost irresistible urge to show friendship and love with food. However, just like a parent/child food relationship, the owner/pet relationship carries responsibilities. Because of this, I monitor my use of food in my communication very carefully.
I do not suggest abstinence (no treats) unless that is something that works for you. If you do have an obese animal what I do suggest is awareness and asking yourself what is your motivation in over-feeding your animal…. , and how else could you show your love in a more healthy way? An extra walk, snuggle or play time?
For information on food addictions and becoming one of the 5% that keep lost weight off for life, visit: http://www.theunreasonablelife.com