Dietary Counseling and Weight Control for PetsObesity is a leading cause of shortened life spans for our pets due to the many secondary medical problems that excess body fat can cause. Just like humans, animals can develop diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, difficulty breathing and exercising, as well as joint problems such as arthritis. These are just a few of the conditions that can lead to a decreased quality of life for overweight pets. While we recognize that giving our pets treats can be one of the ways we strengthen our bond with them, our veterinarians can provide you with alternative methods of positive reinforcement for training and rewarding your pet.
We encourage all pets to stop by for routine weight checks to track their progress, even if they are not on a weight loss plan. Just as with humans, consistency with a healthy diet and exercise program will lead to the best results for weight loss and maintenance.Our veterinarians recommend feeding your pet with a measuring cup in the morning and evening to ensure that everyone in the household is giving the same amount of food.You also want to measure the portion for your pet’s “goal weight”, not their current weight and keep in mind that the food company typically recommends too much on their feeding guidelines. Use the instructions on your pet’s food label as a guideline, but always round down, and remember this amount assumes your pet is getting nothing else to eat (meaning no treats, snacks, bits of your food, etc.)!! If you have a multi-pet household, it may be necessary to separate your pets when it is time to eat, and to make sure any remaining food has been taken up before they come back together. Avoid using automatic feeders or leaving food down all day—this type of “free choice” feeding is common pitfall and typically leads to overeating!
Often, simply cutting back on high calorie treats or human food that your pet is getting is the key to helping them lose weight. Here are some options for HEALTHY REWARDS- Baby carrots, green beans, or apples slices or using a measured portion of kibble (part of daily total) that you keep in a baggie to offer then throughout the day. Pets typically enjoy the crunchy texture of fresh green beans/ carrots, and you can even add them into their meal to enable you to cut back the amount of food (calories) while keeping them feeling full from the fiber in the veggies!What else can you do to promote a healthy weight for your pet? For dogs, try going for a walk or throwing a ball, or even getting a toy that makes meal time into a game! We think it’s just as important for owners to stay fit and healthy- so think about signing up with your dog for the annual Bayfront 5″K9″ Walk/Run – a dog friendly 5K. For cats, try playing with a flash light or cat toy, or making a game into mealtime by rolling their kibble on the floor and having them chase it.
We encourage you to schedule an appointment to discuss a weight loss/ maintenance plan tailored specifically for your pet with one of our veterinarians.