“I’d like you to come and give my two old dogs a check over, please… They seem to be slowing down, and not enjoying life as much as they used to.”
So I collected the details, and booked them in for a visit later in the week. It was a hot, dry day. Townsville, Brownsville, sweltering in the shimmering oven that is summer up in the North. My van a mobile oasis of air conditioning (at least while we were on the move, anyway). I found my way through the streets, and looked in vain for a shady park. No luck at this visit! So I wound the windows down half way, and gathered my bag and stethoscope.
“Ah- you’re here! I’ve been watching out for you.” An average looking fella waved at me from the front yard – grey beard, twinkling eyes. He invited me in, and found me a spot to sit down. “The dogs are out in the front yard, they’re not inside dogs, but I thought you might want to talk about what’s going on with them before I take you out to look them over. Would you like a cool drink?” he asked me
“Nothing could be more welcome!” I assured him. “It’s hot out there today.”
He got me a long cold glass of water, and I gulped half of it down. I reckon you can sweat half your bodyweight on a hot day in Townsville, and you have to keep topping up.
“So- the dogs!” he said. “They are both Rotties, and they are getting on a bit, 7 and 9 years old. They just seem to be getting a bit slower, you know, and they don’t want to go for a walk or play much anymore. It;s as if their spark has gone a bit dim, you know?” He led me out to see them.
As soon as I stepped into the yard, I could see what was the problem. For one, they were both fat, seriously fat! And they were lame on all four legs, both of them, their gait stiff and slow, uncertain on their feet. I carefully checked them all over, and apart from that, they seemed fine.
“They are arthritic,” I explained to their dad. “That, and carrying way too much weight, which makes it worse.”
“Really?” (He had a very surprised expression on his face.) “I thought it was sort of normal for older dogs to get slower, and I thought they were ok, certainly most dogs I see look to be in about the same condition?”
“Well – yes, most dogs are overweight! Here – come and have a feel over their ribs. You should be able to clearly feel the bumps of the ribs with light finger pressure- and they both have a good inch at least of padding there. A lot of old dogs get arthritis, and if they are overweight, the most effective treatment I can offer you is a good diet.”
“Ok then, Doc – let me know what I need to do, and I will do it!”
“Firstly, get them off all processed food, and onto a BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). You can pick it up at all good pet stores. As for how much? Start off on the recommended amount, and measure them each around the chest just behind the front legs. Pop it up on the fridge, and if they don’t shrink at all in a month or two, reduce the amount of food by a quarter. Keep measuring them, and keep reducing until you get a result! Also, I will put them on these Green Mussel Extract tablets, one each a day- that will help the joints. Hopefully with weight loss and this supplement, we won’t need to give them any pharmaceutical drugs. I’ll come back in 8 weeks and see how they are going.”
He wrote it all carefully down, and I went off to my oven of a car, kicked it into life and streamed with sweat for the 5 minutes it took for the air con to start cooling the inside down again. I thought to myself about how seldom my clients actually did put their fat pets on a diet. One look with big sad eyes was enough to make most people reach for more food! I was ever so pleasantly surprised when I came back. They had both lost a heap of weight, and were slim, active and happy. Much more able to move around, happier, coats shinier, different dogs in the best possible way.
“I did exactly what you said to do, and look at them! I couldn’t be happier with the result we’ve got,” he told me.
Simple common sense changes can radically transform your pets well being. None of this was rocket science – just good nutrition, weight loss, and a very affordable supplement, but it drastically improved the quality of life of his old friends!