Obesity is becoming an epidemic in the developed world and our pets are following the trend. While general awareness of this problem is there, it can be much harder to do something about it in our pets for different reasons:
- "Humans" are generally time poor, sometimes we are barely able to look after ourselves.
- Pets have changed their life style and nutrition significantly. Like us they tend to eat more prepared food and do not have to hunt for food.
- Pets tend to have a more sedentary life style.
- Many households have multiple pets and they tend to steal food from each other.
- We tend to take the “he/she will be right" approach and once the pet gets obese it can take lot of time and effort to get it right. The amount of food given is not similar to the size of the portion recommended by the manufacturer or this amount is perceived as "insufficient" by the owner.
Why is it not good for my pet to be obese or overweight?
Your pet is considered to be overweight rather than obese if the total amount of excess body weight is not more than 10% of the ideal body weight. The pet is classified as obese if it exceeds the 10% margin. However, like with humans, recommendations do change, and we are getting stricter and stricter on what is normal and what is not.
There are many diseases associated with or aggravated by excess body weight:
- More likely to be affected by sporting injuries e.g. ruptured cruciate ligaments
- Heart problems
- Difficulties breathing
- Cystitis in cats is more likely to occur in overweight and fat cats
- Dermatitis due to inability to groom properly
- In rabbits excessive body weight can cause the dewlap (skin under the neck) to get excessive and these rabbits can not reach around to eat their first pass faeces which is important for normal intestinal function
How do I know that my pet is overweight?
Well this is the easiest part....you are more than welcome to bring your pet in and we would be more than happy to discuss its needs. Our nurses have all the necessary training and can give you sound advice.
Otherwise talk to your vet when your pet is brought in for vaccination or treatment.
How can I make my pet lose excessive weight?
Losing weight is never easy but with good nutrition and management is quite achievable.
Weight loss diets that we use and recommend are Hill's R/D, Hills Metabolic and Eukanuba Restricted calories.
There are many other options such as using the same diet but at reduced quantities or change the regular diet to light formulas which typically contain less fat.
If your pet is very picky or the cost of the prescription diet is an issue you can try the following:
- Keep going with the diet your pet is eating but reduce it by 20%. You can measure up the reduced amount of the food on the kitchen scales then put in the cup and mark the food level with a permanent marker. This will make it easier to give the same amount every single time your pet is fed.
- Have a diary so you know you much your pet is fed
- It is better to have one person feeding the dog so you can be certain that the pet is getting the same amount of the food. Kids, hubbies, grandmas and grandpas and sometimes friendly neighbours usually tend to be "too generous" with portions.
- Make sure you supervise your pets (if you have multiple) while eating because they tend to steal the food form each other. It is a good idea to separate them while eating.
- Have set meal times; do not leave the food around because the pets tend to overeat because there is nothing else to do. However some cats/dogs are nibblers and if you have one pet only it is alright to keep it this way as long as the quantity is right.
- Once a month weigh-ins are needed to see how your pet is progressing. Now this is the important point.....if your pet is not losing weight the amount of food has to be reduced for another 10% ON MONTHLY BASES. We want them to lose not more then 1 %( cats) and 1-2 %( dogs) of the current body weight a week. As you can see it is a gradual process and will take between 6-9 months for your pet to lose the excessive weight.
- Exercise will speed up the metabolism. Swimming is a great alternative for pets especially if they have issues with arthritis and are not keen on running.
Prescription diets work very well for weight loss and speed up the whole process. They are typically low fat (Hills R/D, Eukanuba Restricted Calories) or high protein/low carbs like Hills Metabolic. The main advantages of these diets are:
- All of them are clinically tested in controlled conditions and are proven to work well
- You will be able to know pretty accurately on how much to feed to achieve desired result
- They combine premium diet with the diet that will fix the medical problem at the same time so no need to feed two different diets
- There is technical support and a money back guarantee if your pet is not eating the food
Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution is weight loss and maintenance nutrition that is clinically proven to naturally work with each pets' unique metabolic response activating the body's natural ability to burn excess body fat. The breakthrough nutrition is clinically proven to safely provide 28% body fat loss in only 2 months because it works to control hunger, helping to keep pets feeling full and satisfied between meals. The product is also clinically proven to avoid weight regain following a weight loss program.
Still, it is sometimes hard to achieve the results quickly and you may need help from our staff. There is always someone to talk to or you could sign up your pet for Slimmers Club in which you have a "personal pet diet trainer" to assist you and your pet for the duration of the diet. Our nursing staff is trained by the manufactures on how to assist you with all relevant issues and we have computer programs to calculate the desired weight loss to avoid guessing.