Weighing down the skin
December 22, 2014 – Skin is essentially protein sitting atop a layer of fat. The more fat; the more curves, the less fat; the more dimples. In moderation, it’s a good thing, but, as in real estate, its value depends on location, location, location. Fat is a good thing when marbling meat, but not so much when clogging arteries. The skin couldn’t live without the rich supply of life sustaining blood that it’s neighboring fat supplies, but truth is… too much of a good thing can be bad.
An extra helping of fat in the right place can prevent an eye from sinking into the socket, or cushion a paw pad on a long days walk, but putting on the pounds can weigh the skin down. Shedding is primarily triggered by a change in seasonal light and temperature, but add a layer of insulating fat, and the fall out becomes fervent as the skin heats up. Overweight animals shed more, groom more and miss more due to their unyielding size. Year round shedding brings oil, scale, bacteria, and yeast back to the table, and along with them comes… itch.
Skin relies heavily on scale for support, and when elbows, ankles, hocks and hips, succumb to the pressure of pounds; calluses come to the rescue. But like a boulder smashing a bug; calluses give way to the weight. The end result… cracking, bruising, bleeding and sloughing; not a pretty sight, or smell, when the bacteria come along.
Fat forms folds like an overnight flight bag; and to hold the load, the skin contorts to contain it. Stretching is fine for muscles, but not for the cover that confines, and defines, us. Bulges of blubber wouldn’t be so bad, if skin were like bone… instead of like rubber.
Paws don’t get fat, they go flat; and like a deflated tire they spread out. In its battle to bolster, the skin will always yield to weight, and sans the support of the pads; the skin contacts the floor, or whatever else it comes across. Short, bristly hairs, confronted with the head-on pressures of Mother Earth, will turn good into bad as follicles are transformed into lumps, bumps and interdigital cysts.
Extra shedding, calluses, folds and cysts are all collateral damage to the primary targets of excess weight. Fat takes an even bigger toll on the internal organs with less resilience than skin… the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and joints.
Bottom line: Lose the weight; and save the skin… but more importantly, the pet within.