Should Crufts include a bikini category to aid in the Labrador judging?

Sharlee showing off her bikini body
Sharlee showing off her bikini body

Should Crufts include a bikini category to aid in the Labrador judging?

I read three great blog posts by this week. They revealed clearly how the definition of a defined waist line had expanded over time in the Labrador judging arena. If you are interested the links are: No wonder a lab has never won at Westminster When did overweight labs become the new normal? Will the Crufts lab be as heavy as the Westminster lab?

So what's a veterinarian's take on the Lab's shape?

Well, I've got some news judges, and it's not good. Whilst I can't take personality into account and I do believe that is important, if the judging is based on looks alone then we're in trouble. If this is the standard that all Labradors should be aiming to meet then uh oh, alarm bells should be going off! How do I know this is a podgy pooch and not a fitness freak? Well I should be able to see a tucked up tummy and a waist line - nope, ideally I would be able to feel his ribs and not see them. Well I definitely can't see them so there is no chance of him being under weight. 

So why does this vet care about advertising Labrador obesity as being the norm?

Carrying extra weight is not cute or cuddly. It potentially leads to a very painful existence for these pets. Chronic joint pain, chronic back pain, skin conditions, diabetes in cats, pancreatitis, liver disease, heart disease and the list goes on. It is not benign to have an obese pet. They will not tell you with words that they are in pain or suffering. They talk to you by their actions. Why do you think a dog limps? Because they are in pain - not because they don't want to use the leg... why do you limp? Generally because your leg hurts! Why are they not moving around much or puffing and panting like crazy - because they are pain when they walk or move, or exhausted because they are carrying so much extra weight. Is the solution then to add a bikni/mankini category to the competition? They do it beauty pageants so why not doggy show rings? Now this may sound rather ridiculous, but I feel that it's fairly ridiculous that the judges are advocating big is best. Now, we all know that big doesn't always mean better.

What about our non-show ring pets? 

We need to spare a thought for all those podgy pets out there. The obesity epidemic is not only one affecting people but it also affects many of our pets. From my personal experience the two most common problems that I see during routine consultations are obesity and dental disease. Both of these conditions cross the species lines. I’ve seen podgy parrots, rotund rabbits, chubby cats, dumpy dogs, portly guinea pigs and tubby mice. The most common reason for obesity in pets is overfeeding and under exercising. Many people love their pets with food instead of loving them with pats, cuddles and exercise.

So Fido has a few extra kilos... does it really matter? Yes. The blubber does not come without bother!

  • Cats, like people, can develop obesity related insulin resistance which can lead to the development of diabetes
  • Obesity leads to skin folds, and skin folds lead to inflammation, infections and faecal and urine scalding which is both smelly and extremely uncomfortable for your pet
  • Arthritis. Those extra kilos put extra pressure on your pet’s joints and spine. Obesity plus arthritis can lead to a significantly painful existence for your much loved companion
  • Cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Increased surgical risk – obese pets have higher rates of complication during surgery and recovery than their slender counterparts

Obesity complications Whilst there are some medical conditions that can cause pets to gain weight, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, medical conditions account for only 5% of companion animal obesity.

Where do you start your pet’s weight loss journey?

Bring them into your local veterinary clinic for a weigh in and check up. Your vets and vet nurses will be able to give you pointers to get your pet started on their weight loss journey. They may include simply cutting back on treats and meal sizes or they may recommend a prescription veterinary diet that will help the kilos melt away. Remember, as your pet gets older their metabolism slows down. You may need to change their diet from an “Adult” food to a “Senior or Mature” formula. Generally these foods will also include supplements to help joint health which is another benefit for you aging companion. Fortunately many of the effects of obesity can be reversed with weight loss. So why don’t you become your pet’s own personal trainer. They’ll love spending the time with you and it will enrich your life and theirs.

Alternatively if they are not into the bikini contest they could always do a wet dog competition - we all now how skinny or podgy our dogs look during a bath...?
Alternatively if they are not into the bikini contest they could always do a wet dog competition - we all now how skinny or podgy our dogs look during a bath...?

 This is my first blog hop attempt. I hope I'm doing it right. Please fellow bloggers just let me know if I've done something wrong. Thanks

8 Responses

  1. We are working hard here to bring down the weight of our dogs. It kinda crept up on us and then all of a sudden we noticed, we had fat dogs! We have switched to Senior food and uped our exercise regime. Also, the dogs aren’t the only one who could stand to lose a few pounds so we are in this together 🙂
    We are a long way from bikini ready but we are woking hard on it!

    • Hi Stacey,
      That’s half of the battle recognising it. The little porker in the picture about what obesity can lead to in pets was my Chihuahua. He had a completely insatiable appetite. It took me all sorts of tricks to get him to loose weight. In the end he only ever at our of a treat ball – in his dry food went and he spent time knocking it around to get his food out. I’ve never seen such a coordinated dog with a treat ball. He was so food motivated that he learnt to empty it pretty quickly.
      Good job for working hard towards those bikini bodies!

  2. Welcome to the Blog Hop world. Looks to me like you did everything right.
    Thanks for adding your professional voice to the pet obesity issue – the more folks can recognize and become aware of what their dog should look like and feel like the more able we will be to solve this problem!

    • Thanks. I was hoping I was hopping right 🙂 I had one of your followers contact me actually and point me in the direction of your blog. I’m so very glad that she did. Pet obesity is a huge issue. I’m very happy to stand up and help give the facts. Absolutely agree. The perception of normal has definitely been skewed overtime. Thank you for all you are doing to bring awareness to it and also to solve the problem.

  3. My dear, you did the blog hop well!! Thank you for joining and thank you for a lovely post about obesity in pets.

    My dogs started their weight loss journey about three or four years ago, after Delilah was diagnosed with back pain associated from too much weight. At that time, my lovely chocolate lab weighed 105 pounds (47.62 kilos.) Sampson (golden lab) weighed in at 111 pounds (50.3 kilos.) We switched to raw and started a strict exercise regime of walking at least 25 minutes a day.

    Our hard work and efforts have paid off! Delilah now weighs about 73 pounds and Sampson just weighed in yesterday at 89 pounds. He is very barrel chested so he can carry more weight than she can, but I’d like to get him down at least 5 more pounds. Incidentally, he is very narrow hipped and he recently had a partial ACL tear which we’ve managed to manage conservatively without surgery. Something I don’t think we could have done if he was heavier.

    They are both happy and full of energy and I hope to have them around for many more years.

    • Thank you Jodi. You’ve done an excellent job with Delilah and Sampson. You should feel very proud of yourselves! I know how hard it can be, albeit on a much smaller scale with a podgy chihuahua named Percy. I’m so glad that you’ve already been seeing the positive effects of Sampson’s weight loss. Thank goodness for Sampson you’d got his weight down before he injured his ACL. Well done!
      Give them some cuddles from me!

  4. LOL you did it right. Thanks so much for joining our hop!

    I am more curious to see if the Lab that wins Crufts has better structure than the dog that won Westminster. Even if that lab lost all the weight, I still see big problems with that dog working efficiently. 🙂

    Maintaining weight is always difficult for us. During training season it is hard to keep weight on the dogs and then when their activity lessens (after hunting season), it is difficult to figure out just how much to reduce their food. We are constantly adjusting the amount.

    • Absolutely! That poor winner of Westminster if he’s being expected to work whilst being so tubby then it’s going to be a lot of hard work for him. It will probably being affecting his fertility too!
      I always find feeding guides as just that guides. I think there is nothing wrong with adjusting as needed. They look perfect – especially playing in the snow!
      Sending big pats, cuddles and tummy rubs their way

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