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Bella.PNG

Weight Management for Dogs & Cats

By: Priscilla Martinez

Photo Credit: Priscilla Martinez

Overweight pets seem to be so normal in these days that we do not realize weight is a problem until they are obese. Due to this “normalcy”, obesity in our pets has become the most common nutritional disease. Dogs that are overweight can suffer from osteoarthritis, urinary incontinence from affected renal function, decreased respiratory function, excess fat accumulation, and diabetes mellitus if genetically predisposed or from a high carbohydrate diet. Overweight cats are at an increased risk of developing neoplasia, skin disease, oral cavity disease, urinary disease, and diabetes mellitus if genetically predisposed or from a high carbohydrate diet. In other words, obesity decreases the quality of life of our pets and increases the odds of developing underlying conditions such as joint pain, muscle atrophy, and lethargy.

*BEFORE BEGINNING A WEIGHT LOSS REGIMEN, PLEASE DISCUSS THE PLAN WITH YOUR VET. THIS SHOULD BE DONE TO KNOW IF YOUR PET HAS ANY MEDICAL ISSUES THAT SHOULD BE MONITORED, AND/OR COULD AFFECT THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY ARE FED.*

Let’s get right to the point. A target weight loss of 1% per week is ideal but can vary depending on the amount of excess weight in both cats and dogs. The heavier the pet the bigger the weight loss in the beginning weeks. In obese pets, a weight loss of more than 6% will provide noticeable health improvements.

An understanding on how your pet is utilizing its meal is necessary in order to determine how to adjust the diet, not just at the beginning but also once they reach their ideal weight and body condition. Fat is a source of energy, if the fat in the diet is more than the energy expended, the body will store it, increasing the fat accumulation. Protein fuels the metabolism, provides the necessary nutrients for body function and muscle repair, and preserves lean tissue.

In order for a dog, or cat, to lose weight there needs to be an energy source deficit, not a caloric deficit. A calorie is simply a unit of energy meaning its not about limiting calories (which are needed to burn fat) it is about limiting the fat so that they do not accumulate anymore of it. The amount of energy expended must be higher than the source of energy. Reducing the amount of fat they consume and increasing the protein in the diet will promote weight loss.

Trim and remove fat that you would normally keep on meats and RMBs. Choose meats that are low in fat and high protein. If treats are necessary for training, deduct them from the daily food allowance. Beef lungs make for amazing treats due to their light weight and low-fat content. Since all treats should be counted towards the daily food allowance, its best to use lean proteins. Dehydrated meat is 1/3 the amount of raw and freeze dried is 1/5 of raw. Alongside a controlled diet, we recommend an increase in exercise.

Although obesity is a common problem, an issue that is overlooked is underweight pets. We can classify these into two groups:

1. Those that are extremely active and struggle to put weight on and/or maintain it

2. Those that are simply underweight but do not expend much energy.

​If your pet is in group 1, there is a need for more fat in the diet. Increase the amount of fat and high protein meats in the diet to meet the energy requirements of the pet while maintaining lean tissue. Because of their high activity, the body will not have a problem utilizing the fat, and therefore will not store it. A deficit in energy sources will prevent weight gain. Increasing the amount of food might not be necessary in a high energy pet. Watch your pet and adjust accordingly.

If your pet is in group 2, then you are providing the necessary amount of fat but not enough food. Simply increase the overall amount of food slowly every week, until they have achieved the desired target weight then stop increasing the food.

If you need help managing a disease with a raw diet during your pet’s journey, or if you simply need a good starting point, allow one of our admins or moderators to help you. We will be looking forward to the updates, the Before and After pictures, and the success stories.

References:

Weight Loss

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2007.tb01934.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5073926/

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/6/1685S/4687693

Weight Gain

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C18&q=weight+gain+for+dogs&btnG=#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DTcRsupFvb6gJ

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