Sheena Avison said Max, diagnosed with cushing’s disease, is now losing weight.
Sheena Avison said Max, diagnosed with cushing’s disease, is now losing weight. Craig Warhurst

Fat dog signs up for boot camp

LET’S not put too fine a point on this – Max is probably Gympie’s fattest dog.

Which is why his owner Sheena Avison signed him up for the pet equivalent of boot camp, albeit a fairly gentle version.

While more and more canines have to fight the battle of the bulge, Max’s obesity is in fact caused by a medical condition… yes, really!

Max, who at his heaviest weighed about 60 kilograms, was recently diagnosed with cushing’s disease or hyperadrenocorticism, an endocrine disorder caused by excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal gland.

Under the supervision of Gympie Veterinary Services’ vet nurse Kellie Hart, Max now attends their weight loss clinic and receives treatment for his cushing’s. The diagnosis was a worry but also somewhat of a relief for Sheena. Her other dogs were all within a healthy weight range.

“I knew there was a problem,” she said.

Like a mother of an overweight child, Sheena is sensitive about his appearance.

“We recently took Max to the markets and people were pointing and laughing at him. It was upsetting,” she said. “Because he’s not fat through overfeeding.”

Veterinarian Astrid Ormerod said typically dogs with cushing’s disease may show symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, increase in appetite and are often very overweight.

“They might get a bit of a pot belly, the liver enlarges and there is often a change in their skin, with hair loss over the back and changes with pigmentation,” Dr Ormerod said.

Vets are seeing more dogs affected by the obesity epidemic, overweight because of the wrong food or too much of it, and a lack of exercise.

“It’s often about lifestyle,” Kellie said, “As we get lazier, our dogs do too.”

The clinic’s weight loss program is currently helping about 10 dogs and two cats.

Meanwhile, Max is on his medication and has lost about four kilograms.

“We’re losing more and more of Max every week and we’re thrilled,” Sheena said.

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