Feb 24, 2015

As a larger & larger proportion of our population lead more sedentary lifestyles, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of OBESE cats & dogs. This has become the most common cause of reduced quality of life and longevity in pets in the USA. About 70% of the pets seen in our hospitals are overweight with about 10% of them being morbidly obese. Problems associated with obesity include heart disease, breathing problems, back problems as well as arthritis, pancreatitis & diabetes. This can be a very difficult topic to discuss as in many cases the pet owners struggle with the same problem. The really good news is that, in almost every situation, wright control in pets with a willing pet owner can be very successful. Prevention is best. Preventing obesity when cats & dogs are young and healthy is much easier than attempting to have an older, obese pet lose weight. Routine exercise & feeding the appropriate amounts of a good quality ,meat based food is ideal.

Controlling weight in the dog is very similar as it is for their owners. In order to lose weight we need to take in fewer calories than we burn off. For dogs the type of food is not as important as the amount of food. It is a simple equation of lowering the amount of calories ingested, increasing the amount of exercise to use up calories or hopefully a combo of the two.  Using a light or higher fiber food can help, but rarely controls weight by switching foods. There are many ways to get your pets more active. Almost all dogs love to go for a brisk walk.

Cats are a completely different story. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means the majority of their calories must come from meat. Most grocery store or discount stores dry food is too high in carbs for cats which can lead to urinary tract problems, obesity & diabetes. In recent years it has been discovered that by feeding canned foods or high quality ,high protein low or no grain dry foods the above problems can be prevented or reversed. For decades treating a cat with diabetes was very frustrating. They were started on insulin injections for the rest of their lives and in many cases regulating their blood sugar was a roller coaster.        Several years ago, somewhat by accident, it was discovered that newly diabetic cats  placed on hi protein, low carb canned diets would often no longer need insulin. We are now recommending that every cat eat some canned food & a high protein low or no grain dry food starting a soon as we  get the information to the pet owner. This is a huge change as for a long time we were telling cat owners to feed dry foods because they were better for their teeth. Exercise for cats is a little more challenging, but many cats enjoy chasing a laser light, fishing pole type toys or playing soccer with shiny balls or foil toys.

Prior to attempting a weight loss program for your pets, it is important to have a complete physical exam and a comprehensive lab test screening including a complete blood count ,blood chemistry, thyroid check and an urinalysis. There are several diseases like Hypothyroidism & Cushings disease that can make it nearly impossible to create healthy weight loss. At the exam your Vet will assess body condition score & estimate an ideal body weight. Based on your pet’s overall health & condition a diet & exercise program can be created. It is very important to follow up with at least weight checks to assure that the weight loss program is working. Adjustments in the amount of food and activity can then be made based on the weight change. By changing a few things in our pets lives everyday we will be able to cherish them in our lives for a much longer time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.