Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Price of Rice...

Wow! More than a week without blogging!!

Yep! That is December!More work; too much distractions and...kids on holidays!
I was thinking of "How much fat is too fat" as title for this blog but hey...after the budget and all the price rises...

Last Wednesday, someone comes in with a dog with difficult breathing and a somewhat taut and round belly. Dog had stopped eating "normally" and was sulking; barely picking bits and pieces from her bowl.One round, fat-rumped little mongrel uneasily made its way to my exam table
After assessment it appeared that the dog had a bad uterine infection and we decided to go in surgery immediately.The uterus was thrice normal size; full of pus and it was a delicate piece of work to detach and excise this organ from its adjacent abdominal fat!Wow!Liver was infiltrated with fat; kidneys were embedded in a thick layer and all the intestines were heavily laden too.
This got me thinking that the heart must be struggling to throb in a nice thick fatty envelope too; and the bigger space the heart occupies in the thorax, the less space there must be for the lungs to inflate properly. No wonder this lady was having trouble breathing.

As expected, she took ages to come out of the aneasthesia after surgery. The injectable compound we use is what we call "lipophillic";i.e. is attracted to and deposits into fat and thus takes longer to be excreted from there too.So I used that time to chat a little with the owner about what was her diet and how it should be from now on. She was on rice and canned food daily with occasional meat and chicken "derivatives" (li cou and la patte). I love it when I get the standard answer from the owners about changing their dog's diet: " But Doc, she would never eat that!She would come whine at us!Oh Poor thing, she loved her fatty foods!" Dogs do all that because they have the choice and when really hungry, they will eat what you propose.

There was a time when our little Mauritian doggies were being fed table left overs only; when there was no left overs they had some stale bread to eat or went to the neighbours. This time is long gone and most of us do prepare special food for our dogs and cats daily; but still what food? Rice of course! Rice with tuna, rice with chicken; rice with meat; rice with anything! That is what WE eat us Mauritians. Staple food is..rice! Must be a legacy from our mostly Asian origins.Ever wondered who eats most of the lower grade "ration" rice in Mauritius? Surely not human! But what about dogs? Their system has not evolved to process rice and other carbohydrates like pasta, "roti" etc. Whatever slow carb that is not used goes straight into fat depots all over the body.

Practically, 7 out of 10 dogs that come to the vet clinic are overweight and the older they get; the worse it is. Worse because then diabetes kicks in; along with joint problems. Vicious circle it is...the heavier the doggy gets the more pressure is on the joints and the more inflamed the joints become; the less the animal walks and the fatter it becomes.
There is also that enigmatic disease in obese cats called the "Fatty Liver Syndrome". Fat cat just stops eating from one day to the other and dies of inanition and general organ failure. Upon necropsy all the fat of its body degenerated into an oily, viscous liquid in a process called saponification; just like that, all of a sudden; as if a signal had been given for that.

So all of you out there reading this blog, rice is okay but alternate with dog pellets.At least the animal gets some fiber. For the ones willing to make an extra effort for their loved ones; half the rice rations and add cooked vegetable peels to their food; i.e. fill their stomach but with non caloric food. Exercise your dog if he/she is of the "couch potato" type; sporty dogs are much more interactive and smarty ones. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano they say...applies to dogs and cats too I guess!

Bear in mind that there is a health price to pay for feeding your pet too much rice and it is well above the tag on the bag at the Supermarket...It might cost your beloved one its life.

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