By Dr. Charles Curie
Having practiced Veterinary Medicine for 36 years you can bet that I have seen just about every imaginable disease and injury in just about every species of animal.
So I am often asked; “what is the most common disease that you see”? Or “what is the deadliest ailment that you encounter in daily practice”?
People expect me to say something like cancer, trauma, or infections. But sadly enough the deadliest disease is also the most common disease that I see. It is an epidemic.
Depending on what study you read it affects 35 – 60% of our pets in this country. This disease is the number one reason why animals are presented to veterinarians for euthanasia prior to what their life expectancy should have been.
There is plenty of research to prove beyond doubt that this disease will take a least two years off the life of an animal. That is a bunch when you consider that they may only live 12 – 15 years under the most ideal circumstances. Two years is a 15 – 20% reduction in life span.
That would be like us losing 10 – 15 years of our life. I don’t know about you but I am not interested in giving up that much of my life if I can do something to avoid it.
Furthermore this disease steals away so much quality of life! They not only die too soon they are miserable for years before they pass! Their life simply is very unpleasant because they are plagued with so many other terrible diseases which are brought on by the preventable initial one.
What other diseases?
Well the short list includes arthritis (often so severe that they become immobile!), joint degeneration, skin, liver, kidney, and heart/lung disease.
A significant reduction in energy resulting in less play and socializing is very obvious.
And if we are talking about cats they are at high risk for developing diabetes! This is a horrible disease for people who if they choose can control not only their insulin but every other aspect of their life including sleep, exercise, diet, and life style.
In animals we only have total control over the dose of insulin everything else is variable and because of that regulating the diabetic pet can be quite difficult.
So what is the “Deadliest Disease”?
The cause is simple. Taking in to many calories causes obesity. PERIOD!
Other causes are extremely rare!
Over feeding and too many treats is the culprit. You have total control over this. Do not let your pet become over weight and if it is; consult us about nutritional requirements and dieting.
Dieting is no fun. I hate it myself! But it is the only way to lose weight. It is much more logical not to allow them to gain the weight in the first place. But if they are already too heavy then a diet is the only way out.
So I said that obesity is simply eating too much and it is. So feed measure portions to your cats. Do not allow them to graze at the food bowl 24/7. The average cat only needs about 150-180 calories daily.
Go easy on the treats! If your cat needs 150 calories daily and you give 5 treats that have 10 calories each you just blew the diet by giving 33% more calories than required!
Remember this! Obesity is not a cosmetic problem. It is the most widespread deadly disease that I deal with!