Did you know that over 50% of dogs and cats in the US are overweight or obese? Obesity puts your pet at an increased risk for arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and respiratory disease. You can decrease the risk by promoting a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Make creating a healthy lifestyle through weight loss your pet’s new year’s resolution.
Body Condition Score
We evaluate your dog or cat’s weight using a 9 point system with 1 being severely underweight and 9 being extremely overweight. A body condition score (BCS) of 5 is ideal. We give your pet a body condition score at each exam – this prints off on the report card so you are always informed.
One of the most important things you can do is to measure how much food you are giving. We do not recommend “free-feeding” or leaving food in the bowl at all times and refilling whenever it is empty. You should feed your pet a set amount every day. For dogs, you can try reducing the amount of food and replacing it with something lower calorie such as green beans. If you are unsure how much to feed or how much weight your pet needs to lose, make an appointment for an exam and nutrition consult.
Prescription Diets for Weight Loss
We have seen great success with prescription weight loss diets. These diets are clinically proven to promote and maintain your pet’s healthy weight. In general these diets are lower calorie and higher in fiber, so your pet feels full longer. Popular diets include Hill’s Science Diet Metabolic and W/D, both of which are available at our hospital and online store.
Another important factor to consider is the number of treats you are feeding your pet. It is very easy to overfeed when it comes to treats. We recommend using your pet’s food as treats. You can measure out the total daily amount of food each day, and everything you feed your pet must come from this allotment. This way you know exactly how much your pet is getting each day.
Diet alone is often not enough to achieve weight loss. Just like us, your pet also needs exercise daily. For dogs, this can be as simple as a short walk once or twice a day, or perhaps a game of fetch. For indoor cats, you can try playing with a laser pointer or an interactive wand toy. There are also interactive feeders you can buy, which require your pet to manipulate them in some way to dispense food.
We Are Here For You
Creating a weight loss plan for your furry family member can seem overwhelming, but Whitesburg Animal Hospital is here to help. Feel free to bring your pet by for periodic weigh ins, or make an appointment to talk with us about nutrition / exercise. Weight gain can be caused by medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, so if you notice that diet and exercise are not producing results, we recommend that you bring your pet in for an exam and/or blood work.