A New Year & A Fresh Start For Your Pet
By Nancy Moser, DVM
Did your pet gain some Holiday weight? Obesity in dogs and cats has become more prevalent and can lead to long term side effects or chronic medical conditions. Some of these conditions include early onset arthritis or other joint disease, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, and skin problems. Overall, this can lead to a decrease in your pets’ longevity and quality of life.
So, what can be done to get your pet to a normal weight? Diet and exercise are the main pillars to weight loss, but diet is more important in pets. As the first step, your veterinarian will determine your pet’s body condition score. This will allow them to determine what your pet’s ideal body weight should be and how much weight needs to be lost to reach that ideal weight. With all the many different breeds, body conformations and individual differences between pets, this is a crucial first step to successful weight loss. Your veterinarian will then calculate how many calories your pet can eat per day to reach their ideal weight. In some cases, your pet can continue eating the same food in smaller amounts but other cases may require a weight loss specific diet.
Adding in exercise, like longer and more frequent walks, swimming, playing fetch etc. will also help burn more calories, and build and maintain healthy muscle mass. Your veterinarian can make specific suggestions based on your pet’s demeanor and any pre-existing conditions they may have. Just like in people, your pet’s weight loss should be gradual over several months to be successful in the short term and long term.
Many owners that have successfully got their pets to lose weight report an obvious outward improvement in their pet’s energy and overall demeanor. When you're ready or if you have any questions, reach out to your veterinarian for a weight loss consultation exam!