What kind of food should my pet be eating?
There are many foods on the market that are designed to promote weight loss. Prescription diets are formulated to provide all the essential nutrients while limiting calories. Some over the counter diets may not actually promote weight loss with the recommended feeding amount and may actually be deficient in nutrients if the amount being fed is decreased, so pay particular attention when buying a weight loss diet at your local pet food store. Dogs tend to do better on a high fiber diet because it makes them feel fuller while restricting calories. Cats tend to do better on canned diets because they are lower in carbohydrates, higher in water content and canned foods have higher animal protein content. Cats are obligate carnivores (meaning they need to eat animal protein), and dry kibble tends to have more plant protein that is difficult for a cat to digest.
How can my veterinarian help my pet lose weight?
It is important to consult a veterinarian to maintain the overall health of your pet. An annual physical examination can identify health problems earlier and may help your pet live a longer, healthier life. If your pet’s body condition score falls in the overweight or obese range, we can address current diet and exercise habits and make recommendations to promote weight loss. We may also recommend a blood panel to identify medical conditions that lead to weight gain, as well as screen for other diseases associated with obesity. In patients who have issues with their mobility, we may recommend radiographs of painful joints to look for arthritis.
As a weight loss plan is implemented, weigh-ins are recommended every 2 to 4 weeks to make sure your pet is losing weight at a healthy pace. Losing weight too quickly can lead to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), especially in cats. This is a serious disease which requires intense, often long-term treatment and can even lead to death.