Robert is a race-horse trainer. It is from him that I learnt the phrase ‘racing-fit’, which I use occasionally to describe a pet, person or racehorse who is ready for peak athletic performance, all muscle and no fat.
About six months ago Robert discovered that he has hip dysplasia, which led to premature arthritic changes in his hips and great pain. At only just over 50 years old he has already had a hip replacement procedure.
He brought his dog Dookie to see me last weekend, as the lovely lad was showing some signs of stiffness on rising in the evenings. We went for a walk together, and I noticed how thin Robert was looking. As a work jockey he keeps his weight very low to avoid straining the backs of the young thoroughbreds he rides. He was walking carefully, with shortened strides, and a slight hitch as he took weight on the newly operated side, with a general sense of tension in his posture from the unoperated arthritic hip.
Dookie is a lurcher of indeterminate parenthood. Whenever I have met him before he has been racing-fit, with ribs easily felt under his rough straw coloured coat, a well tucked up abdomen and obvious waistline. He has always been used to running free for two hour-long walks a day, and mooches about the racing yard in between these sessions, hunting for rats.
But that day he was not looking so fit. His torso had rounded out, his body seemed two sizes too big for his head, and I had to press firmly through a layer of fat to locate any ribs. Still, he was walking better than Robert, with a free loose stride.
We popped him on the scales and confirmed that he was 10% overweight, and definitely not racing-fit!
He had some minor hip tenderness, and had become very inflexible along his back. We agreed to slim him down urgently and review his mobility issues in a month. Robert was amazed: he genuinely had not noticed his own dog ‘filling out’ in his middle age, so I was glad to be able to be the objective professional for them.
If your pet is not quite as fit as they once were, and has started looking a bit stiff in the mornings or after exercise, it may be time to get them to the Vet for a weight and mobility check. Give my friendly team at The Mewes a ring on 01444 456886.