“Do as I say not as I do” is a statement I often find applicable in veterinary medicine. We tell our clients to keep their pets thin, to brush their teeth daily, and to never feed them table scraps. It never ceases to amaze me the number of veterinarians and veterinary students who have overweight pets whose teeth are never brushed. When I got my two dogs last spring, a Golden Retriever puppy and a Miniature Australian Shepherd, I vowed to myself that I would try to do better. But I fell into the same trap. I gave my girls lots of treats and wanted to make sure they had plenty of food toys to keep them busy while I was at school. One day, the nutritionist at school saw me with my dogs and told me the truth — they were fat. In all honesty, this wasn’t a complete surprise, and I realized I had failed. I could no longer tell myself they were just going through an awkward growth spurt and would slim down soon. So I did what I knew was needed and put them on a diet. I replaced their unhealthy treats with carrots, green beans, and other healthy items. I stuffed their daily kongs with canned pumpkin and green beans instead of kibble and canned food. We also went for more walks. They have both lost weight and now look great!
I have also struggled with sticking to a daily tooth brushing. It isn’t always fun to get out the toothbrush every night but I know it will pay off in the long run to minimize dental disease and hopefully avoide expensive dental cleanings or, worse, extractions. I now feel like I can tell my future clients in all honesty that while I know it is difficult (and it is difficult), keeping their dogs at a healthy weight and brushing teeth daily can be done and will improve their pets lives.