Obesity has become a nationwide epidemic for dogs and cats. Do you know that 40% of pets in the United States and Canada are considered obese? Do you know that lean pets can live an average of 2 years longer? By keeping your pet slim and trim you can help avoid the early onset of health issues such as heart problems, arthritis and diabetes. We want you to be able to enjoy more active years out of your best friend before the onset of these chronic conditions.
There are many reasons why a pet can become obese. Puppies and kittens require more nutrients and energy than adults so we feed them more. However, after these young pets are spayed or neutered, their metabolism slows down due to a decrease in hormone levels. To compensate, owners must cut back on the amount of food fed to their pets. This is also true for pets as they age; an increase in age leads to a decrease in metabolism and an increased tendency to gain weight.
Overfeeding is another common cause of obesity. Simply feeding too much food, your pet eating another pet’s food, or feeding pets unnecessary table scraps and treats all lead to obesity.
Disease is also another possible cause of obesity.
Weight loss comes down to a simple formula: more calories out than taken in. This leads to the obvious suggestion that if your pet is obese you need to cut back on the amount of food being fed to your pet. A lot of times dogs and cats lack stimulation (become “bored”) resulting in eating as a substitute for other stimulation. This is especially true when food is constantly available to pets. (You should talk to a veterinarian for the best way to feed your pet and for ideas to reduce boredom).
Some pets require a new type of food to facilitate weight loss. There are prescription diets available through our hospital to help in such cases. These diets include Science Diet r/d and Science Diet w/d, which are available for both dogs and cats. Science Diet m/d is an additional choice that is only available for cats. Purina Veterinary Diets have a weight loss formulation (OM) that is available for both dogs and cats.
Canine Science Diet r/d and Canine Purina OM are both formulated on the same principle: high in fiber and low in fat and calories. The high fiber consistency allows the pet to eat a similar quantity of food (therefore feeling full) while consuming fewer calories. Once the goal weight for your pet is reached, the r/d food should be switched to Science Diet w/d because the r/d does not have all the nutrients required by your pet for long term use. The Purina OM food can be used for both a maintenance and weight loss diet.
For cats, there are two philosophies for weight loss. Science Diet r/d and w/d are formulated under the same principle as the canine products. However, as carnivores most cats will eat not until their stomachs are full but until their protein requirements have been attained. Therefore, other formulations like Science Diet m/d and Purina OM are available, which are basically an Atkins’ Diet for cats. M/d and Feline OM are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. With m/d and OM, your cat will reach its protein requirements with less food while avoiding unnecessary carbohydrates and calories.
Again, the bottom line is calories out > calories in. Exercise is a very important part of weight loss. Going on a walk, playing catch, chasing toys or laser lights, etc. are good ways for your pet to burn calories. You cannot rely on your pet’s diet alone to get them to lose weight. Any type of exercise your pet does is better than nothing at all!!
It is our goal to keep your pets healthy and in lean body condition. This will not be an easy task. Do not give into them. It’s important to understand that begging does not mean that the pet is starving. With hard work and determination you will be able to help your pet live longer. They will love you for it! Call us today to schedule a wellness exam to discuss a weight loss program for your pet.