Michael Fumento

It’s enough to make you want to arf.

Our pooches are growing paunches at an alarming rate. Five percent of the over 60 million dogs in this country are considered obese, meaning at least 20 percent over ideal weight. Almost a third more are considered overweight. So do we simply feed them less food, healthier food, or exercise them more? Don’t be silly! Instead the FDA has approved a new liquid doggie drug from Pfizer called Slentrol that’s supposed to block fat absorption and reduce appetite. “Have another tapioca treat, boy!”

Dog obesity, and pet obesity generally, is actually part of a continuum that began in the 1970s. First we gave up on self control, leading to the adult obesity epidemic. Then we gave up on kid control, leading to the child obesity epidemic. “Exercise” became a four-letter word and somehow “eating properly” also got reduced to one word with four letters.

Now just as we’ve abandoned self-control and kid-control, we’ve abandoned efforts to control our pets’ habits. This has led to chubby Chihuahuas; fat foxhounds, pot-bellied poodles, butterball beagles, porcine pit bulls, and rotund Rottweilers. Labradors need liposuction.


“The parallels between human obesity and canine obesity are striking,” John E. Bauer, a veterinarian at Texas A&M University told a reporter. “They live with us. So when we eat too much, they eat too much. When we don’t exercise enough, they don’t exercise enough. And when we snack between meals, they probably snack between meals.”

After all, it’s not like Spot is sneaking into the freezer at night and helping himself to Kibbles ‘n Bits ice cream. Dogs become fat because we make them fat just as we make ourselves and our kids fat. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that parental obesity more than doubles the risk of adult obesity among children under 10 years of age.

And having abandoned proper diet and exercise, we look for magical potions.

The FDA recently fined four different supplement sellers that make weight-loss claims as unsubstantiated as a witch’s testimonial for eye of newt.

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .

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