Sadly, obesity is a growing problem for cats and dogs. Being overweight can have serious medical consequences. Obesity is related to diabetes, arthritis, liver problems, respiratory dysfunction, and shorter lifespans. We understand that getting a patient to lose weight can be extremely difficult and we are here to help you.
You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs with light pressure, there should be a visible waist when viewed from above, and there should not be a sagging tummy. If there is a sagging tummy, no visible waist, a broad back, or a thick layer of fat over the ribs, then your pet is oveweight.
There are a number of factors to consider when devising a weight loss plan. First we want to make sure that there is not an underlying medical condition causing the obesity. For example, in dogs, thyroid problems and Cushing’s disease are relatively common diseases that cause weight gain. We may want to check a blood sample to screen for underlying problems.
In order to achieve weight loss, we need to increase the calories being used while decreasing the calories being consumed. Walking and swimming are great calorie burners for dogs. It is more difficult to get a cat to exercise, but some can be tempted to chase toys or even a light beam.
To control food intake, it is important to use measured food portions divided into twice daily meals. This gives you control of the amount of food being consumed and allows you to easily make adjustments to the portion size when needed. Lower calorie foods can be useful, but measuring portions is still critical. Cats in particular will eat until they have ingested a set number of calories. If they are fed a lower calorie food and the amount of food is not controlled, they will eat a larger volume of the food in order to maintain their caloric intake.
Of course, the other big issue is treats. No “people food” should be used, and remember to take any treats into account when determining food portions. This can be a particularly difficult because pets enjoy being fed, and food can sometimes be used as a means of expressing our love.
There are prescription weight loss foods that can be a tremendous asset in the weight loss process. Hill’s R/D is a food designed to induce weight loss. Once the weight approaches the desired goal, the diet can be changed to Hill’s W/D for weight maintenance. Another option for cats is Hill’s M/D, which is a low carbohydrate diet. Another great new option is Hills Metabolic dog and cat food which can help alter the pets metabolism and jump start weight loss. All of these are available in our clinic, please ask about them today.
Pet Fit is a great website sponsored by Hill’s Nutrition to help you with weight and fitness issues for dog and cats. Click on the logo to the right to visit their site.
Another valuable online resource is Pet Obesity Prevention. Their website has calorie guides for many different brands of food.
For a medical approach to pet obesity, here is a weight loss medication called Slentrol available for dogs who are having difficulty losing weight by other means. This medication decreases the desire for food. It is ONLY for use in dogs. If you have had difficulty getting your dog to lose weight, ask us about Slentrol.
It is helpful to have regular weigh in visits to help keep any weight loss plan on track. You are always welcome to stop by for a weigh check. We will help you keep track of your progress and there is no charge for getting on the scale.