Fat chance of weight loss for Oscar

Study in contrasts … Vix Erber and Oscar.
Study in contrasts … Vix Erber and Oscar.

The irony is not lost on fitness trainer Vix Erber. She helps people to lose weight for a living, yet her dog Oscar is, according to her, the ''fattest pug in Bondi''.

Not that Oscar, which weighs 14 kilograms, stands much chance of being slim. It's not only that his owner feeds him countless treats, his breed is predisposed to being overweight.

On an average day, the eight-year-old will have chicken necks for breakfast, snacks from his regular cafe haunts in Bondi for morning tea, often a sandwich stolen from one of Ms Erber's clients for lunch and dry mince for dinner.

On Sundays, Oscar rests, often sharing scrambled eggs and bacon with his owner for breakfast.

''It's more out of love I don't want to deny him [food],'' Ms Erber said.

''The vets haven't pulled me up … He could lose weight but it's not a point that I am worried about it.''

The ballooning weight of pets has become a big issue in the veterinary world, based on the increasing academic interest in the area.

Since January, there have been 23 articles in peer-reviewed journals used by vets about obesity in dogs and cats, the president of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, David Neck, sees that as a reflection of the amount of concern and emphasis being placed on animal obesity.

''[Animal] obesity is increasing in our population,'' Dr Neck said.

He said that while research was expanding into the causes of animal obesity, there was a general consensus that the fault rests on a pet's owner.

''Any dog or cat that is overweight can squarely point to the person who feeds them,'' he said. ''I don't know a dog that can open a fridge.''

Chris Degeling, a vet and research fellow at the University of Sydney's school of public health, said that in the past three years, animal obesity has become ''anecdotally worse''.

In Australia and Britain, animal obesity is being approached as an ''overfeeding'' issue.

''It does seem from the research being done that overweight pets do seem to be owned by overweight owners,'' Dr Degeling said.

Statistics on overweight dogs compiled by the RSPCA, which haven't been updated since 2005, indicate that 33.5 per cent of Australian-owned dogs are overweight and 7.6 per cent are obese.

This story Fat chance of weight loss for Oscar first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.