Dogs deserve not to be treated like humans

Who doesn’t love a dog, undoubtedly man’s best friend? As former President Harry S. Truman once remarked, “If you want to have a friend in Washington, buy a dog”.

But humans are making a major error in caring for their four-legged friends. They’re starting to treat them like humans. Dogs deserve better.

A recent report states that U.S. dog owners now spend more than $7 billion a year on drugs for their dogs. And that Health Canada has approved 40 new drugs for dogs over the last five years.

I love dogs as much as anyone else. I recall, as a young child, going into a major funk when our dog died. But until this report, I believed that most dogs just needed veterinarian help to protect them from worms or infectious diseases.

Now, Madison Avenue advertisers for pharmaceutical companies are looking for more markets. They’re convincing dog owners there’s more to dog health than worms. And what’s good for humans, namely pills, is equally good for dogs. But in the process they’re going to make man’s best friend needlessly ill.

Pharmaceutical companies now have drugs to treat obesity in dogs. But surely the marketing of drugs for this purpose is capitalism gone amuck and sheer madness.

Drugs to treat human obesity have been available for years and have been helpful in shedding pounds. But it has been shown endlessly that drugs, whether dealing with obesity or other diseases, involve possible complications. You never get something for nothing when dealing with medication. And what happens to humans will happen to man’s best friend.

One commonly used pharmaceutical drug for treating dog obesity states that it must be prescribed by a veterinarian and that the drug is fairly well tolerated. But there are a few “buts” in the prescription. For instance, it states that the most common side effect is vomiting, particularly during the first month of treatment or when the dose is increased. It goes on to say that dogs who vomit feel good.

But I’ve never felt good feeling nauseated and vomiting, and I’d enjoy it less if it went on for a month. Or, if I knew vomiting would occur every time the dose was increased. So I find it hard to believe that man’s best friend would enjoy these frequent episodes either. And I’d bet that if the dog could do more than bark it would say to its owner, “Give me a break! Isn’t there an easier way to lose weight?”

The prescription goes on to state that some dogs may feel tired, have diarrhea or lose their appetite completely. Other side-effects can include changes in the dog’s liver enzymes, found only by blood testing. It says these enzyme changes are usually temporary and most return to normal on their own. But dog owners are advised to call their veterinarian if they notice any unusual changes in their pet.

Unless I’ve become senile and uninformed, there’s no way I’d accept drugs that would affect my liver enzymes unless it was a matter of life and death. So why, in the name of Heaven, would I subject my dog to these changes just to fight obesity?

Some veterinarians I talked to believe that these drugs are a welcome addition to the care of animals. They quote studies showing 5% of dogs are now obese and up to 30% overweight.

Fortunately, other veterinarians share my view that the sensible approach is to attack the root cause of obesity. This means that whether you’re a dog or a human the only program that combats obesity is a decrease in caloric intake along with moderate exercise.

Today dogs have become part of the family and I agree they deserve good medical treatment. But while providing loving care, don’t subject them to the human foible of obesity and the host of medical complications associated with this disorder.

It’s one thing to ruin your own health. It’s another to ruin the health of man’s best friend. And I doubt that you can ever train him or her to enjoy the negative complications of drug treatment.

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