Updated: Oct 16
Blended excerpts from various sections of
Potential Within YOUR DOG’S HEALTH
Authored by Franco Cavaleri ISBN 0-978-0-9731701-1-5
Original post: November 24, 2010
This article is composed of multiple excerpts to result in tone and content shifts and reference numbering that may be out of order
Beloved but inactive pets and pets that have been over-rewarded with food often gain weight—body fat—that puts unnecessary strain on their joints and organs and compromises their health and longevity.
For many of the same reasons that humans become overfat and suffer health problems, pets can become obese. Humans commonly rate their body weight according to the BMI (Body Mass Index), although this method presents some degree of inaccuracy for athletes and some body types with lots of muscle.
Measurements of lean body mass versus fat mass with bioimpedence devices or water displacement tanks provide more accurate measurements of fatness versus lean tissue.
This applies to both humans and companion animals. However, when it comes to our pets, we can rely on a less scientific method, which can provide some pretty good guidance if we stay tuned in to their state of fitness on a day-to-day basis.
A fit dog will live longer, experience better life quality, and require less veterinary attention. Is your dog fit or fat? Fat accumulates throughout the dog’s body but tends to collect around the neck and along the ribs and flank and underside. An animal with short hair should show a muscular neck and at least a hint of its ribs. The ribs tend to give more visible clues. If the ribs are covered completely by fat, your dog is likely crossing over to fatness, although rib appearance varies from breed to breed. Bulldogs, for example, tend to have a smoother appearance along the rib cage.
Ask a breed specialist about fitness clues in your breed to set some benchmarks you can use, but keep in mind that weight standards even within any breed can vary drastically based on the different sizes and bone structure within the breed. The weigh scale is not a great measuring device; rib appearance is better.
Generally, an animal with a longer or coarser coat will hide the ribs but you should be able to feel them by probing with your fingers. If you cannot, your companion is at risk of over-fatness or obesity. Your pet should be physically fit to maximize health, happiness, and longevity.
Feed intake can be varied based on activity level on a daily basis. Don’t feed the same meal and volume day after day. I keep an eye on the fitness level of my animals, and, if they begin to look a bit softer or fatter, I back off on the feed volume for a few days until they assume a fitter appearance. The changes either way occur very quickly.
A more active animal requires more feed and on days when activity is greater, more food can be offered. If the ribs begin to show more on one day due to a few days of extra physical work, feed more food until a healthier weight is achieved. Better yet, feed a little more food in anticipation of the next day’s physical work or immediately after a
more physical day.
For an obese animal, exercise can be painful and increase the risk of injury to joints. A sudden lunge by an overweight animal to fetch and play can cause cruciate ligament, cartilage, and tendon damage, requiring surgery and inflicting pain and emotional trauma.
Obesity is usually accompanied by increasing insulin resistance, which can lead to inflammation and diabetes as well.
That said, insulin efficiency declines with age, even if the animal is not obese. Obesity just advances the insulin problem. We may have noticed that our own ability to recover from work or exercise has declined, and we can see that our companion animals don’t recover from strenuous play as quickly after age seven or so. This is partly due to that decline in the efficiency of insulin that comes in the later years—the development of insulin resistance.
If insulin efficiency can be maintained at youthful levels, the body operates more efficiently: nutrients are absorbed into cells more readily; protein synthesis for repair
of tissues is more effective; the body’s fat-burning furnaces remain active to help manage body fat; and inflammation is kept in check.
As insulin resistance progresses toward a diabetic state, the body tends to produce more pro-inflammatory hormones as a side effect. Ultimately, the cells become preloaded with pro-inflammatory hormones that can charge into action at the slightest provocation.
General resistance to illness is lower in this pro-inflammatory state. Even before an outbreak of inflammatory disease, inflammation festers on a subclinical level. You may not see any symptoms in your pet, but there will be a daily impact that slowly erodes metabolic efficiencies and overall health. By the time diabetes is diagnosed, the inflammation and diabetes have been developing for some time.
There are two types of diabetes. The form often referred to as Type 1 diabetes is associated with a deficiency or complete shutdown of insulin production by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is associated with the cells’ inability to use insulin to transport sugar from the blood. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is producing insulin, but the receptor sites on cells are no longer sensitive to it and the sugar stays in the blood.
Many nutrients are now known to have gene-modulating activity, and the case of insulin-resistance-related diabetes in pets and humans is a perfect model for this nutrigenomic influence. The program described in the following pages demonstrates how we can use these nutrients in an effective and safe way to help your pet slim down, become more active, and reverse insulin resistance, obesity and even diabetes.
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