You’ve probably seen the comments on social media. A friend posts a picture of their chubby dog, wanting to share their fur baby’s cuteness with the world, and someone posts a comment that says, “You’re a terrible person for making your dog fat! You’re killing your dog! You’re an abuser! You should be ashamed!” Why all the hate? What’s so terrible about having a fat dog, anyway, and why would anyone comment so rudely to a fellow dog owner and dog lover?
Why Are People Fat Shaming?
There are several reasons people might fat shame a dog owner for having an overweight dog. Some people are just bullies and trolls. Others have a need to feel superior and put others down. You could go through all of the cliche reasons people have for being rude and hurtful, and they’d apply to those who fat shame dog owners. Add in the fact that the people commenting are mostly strangers on the internet hiding behind a computer, and what you get is keyboard warriors spreading hate with no filter who can’t see the hurt they are causing.
However, I think one of the reasons people fat same dog owners is because they genuinely care about dogs. They know that canine obesity is a problem, and that dogs who are overweight have greater risks to their cardiovascular health, they are more likely to develop diabetes, the added stress on their bones and joints can worsen arthritis, and more. When they see a dog in distress, they blame the owner and assume they’re being neglectful or even abusive. Because they have no direct control or power to help the dog, they lash out in the only way they can think of.
What’s So Bad About Having A Fat Dog?
Even though people who fat shame dog owners for their overweight dogs are acting rude and childish, they do have a point that being overweight isn’t healthy for our pups. Obesity increases the chances of dogs developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obese dogs are more likely to suffer from strokes, and the added stress on their bones and joints can make conditions like arthritis worse.
Even if overweight dogs don’t suffer from those conditions, the added weight makes it more difficult to move, and quality of life can drop dramatically. When it’s more difficult to move, dogs can’t exercise properly, so they gain more weight in a cycle that just keeps getting worse. They’re more likely to be lethargic and depressed, and no one wants to see their pup feel like that. As humans with knowledge about nutrition and as responsible pet parents, it’s important for us to take care of our dogs’ health.
Why Is Fat Shaming A Bad Thing To Do?
So why is it bad to tell irresponsible dog owners exactly what you think? Why bother being courteous to people who don’t care for their dogs properly? Well one problem is that judging from first impressions does not give you the whole picture. There may be a medical issue that causes a dog to gain weight, or someone may be taking in a dog from a rescue situation where a previous owner neglected the dog’s health. They might be working very hard to get the dog back to a healthy weight. Directing nasty comments at them is pointless and just mean.
The other issue is that shaming people isn’t a very effective tool for motivating people to make a change most of the time. If you berate someone, they are more likely to set up walls and think that you’re not worth listening to. No one wants to be made to feel bad, and they certainly don’t want to have a discussion with someone who is insulting. Also, by reacting with anger, you are assuming that the other person is doing something malicious intentionally, rather than out of ignorance. Some dog owners may just be ill-informed on how to properly care for their dog. Other owners may just want to love and spoil their pups without realizing the consequences of not knowing when to say, “No.” They don’t necessarily deserve your wrath, but they might benefit more from you spreading information and knowledge.
What Can We Do Instead Of Fat Shaming?
It’s more effective to approach a dog owner peacefully without making assumptions. Ask questions about their dog. Show that you are concerned, and remove the anger. Ask them how their dog is feeling, if they’ve been to the vet, how much exercise they get, and so on. Be a real, caring human being. They may even come to you with questions about how to improve their dog’s health.
Share information. If you see an article you like about dog health and fitness, share it with friends. Work to create a more educated group of dog owners. When dog owners are informed, they make choices that they know are best for their dogs.
A gentle approach will show dog owners that you’re on the same side. You’re both on Team Dog, and you both want what is best for your pups. It’s easier to have a discussion with an ally than an argument with an enemy. Use your communication skills, because as much as it may temporarily feel good to berate people that you think are hurting dogs, you aren’t helping either. Throwing insults is selfish. If you want to actually help dogs, work to change minds, instead.
What would you recommend instead of fat shaming dog owners with overweight dogs? Have you ever been insulted by someone who thought you weren’t caring for your pup the right way? Let us know in the comments below!