Obesity is a “big” issue for pets.
“It is amazing how little it takes to add five to ten pounds for our pets,” said Dr. Ireland. For example, a ten pound cat will gain one pound a year from just an extra ten calories per day. For dogs, the same is true. For a 20 pound dog, it only takes 65 calories a day to make that a 25 pound dog in a year. One moist treat can pack 20 calories so it is easy to add the extra calories to your pet’s diet and not even realize it. For a 70 pound dog, 100 extra calories a day will make them an 80 pound dog in not too long of time.
The good news
The good news is that the reverse is also true. If it only takes a few calories to add weight to your pet, it only takes cutting a few calories to reduce your pet’s weight too. “Reducing your pet’s calories by only a small amount every day can make a huge difference in weight loss,” said Dr. Ireland.
Dr. Ireland, who has a passion for pet nutrition, warns that obesity in pets is a significant risk factor for developing a variety of diseases. So it is always important to tackle your pet’s weight issue. She also recommends that pets have a complete physical before beginning a weight loss program to rule out any medical issues that may be contributing to the weight gain. The doctors at Animal Wellness Center are available to help you design a safe weight loss program for your pet.
What is the proper amount to feed your pet?
“To determine the amount of calories your pet requires each day, we look at the ‘resting energy requirements’ of your pet,” explains Dr. Ireland. “What this means is we ask what your pet’s calorie requirements are to rest in a room all day since that’s what most pets do,” she explains. If your dog hunts or is active, then we take that into account when determining the number of calories your pet requires.
Steps to help your pet drop weight
1. Count calories. Calories include the food and treats. This will help determine how many calories your pet is eating.
2. Switch food to a less calorie dense food. This will cut the calories but your pet will still feel full.
3. Feed low calorie treats.
4. Get creative in how you feed your pet. Dr. Ireland recommends feeding pets twice a day instead of just once. And, if possible, three times a day works even better. For some pets and families, she recommends to measure the day’s worth of food into a container and then feed the pet throughout the day. Then the pet is less likely to be overfed.
5. Use puzzle toys during mealtime. This helps the pet eat more slowly and generally helps satisfy the appetite better.
“It’s all about calories in and calories out when addressing weight loss,” explains Dr. Ireland. “However, what we have found with people’s busy lives, it is easier to change a pet’s diet than for owners to commit to exercising their pets more,” she added.
Exercise is difficult for older pets with health issues and is often difficult to get cats to exercise. “That’s why we focus on the calorie and type of food clients feed their pets to begin the weight loss program,” said Dr. Ireland.
We are here to help
If your pet is overweight, we can help. We will give your pet a complete physical examination to make sure they are healthy to begin a weight loss program. Then we will recommend the type of food and the amount, along with low calorie treats. Together, we can help your pet lose weight and ultimately live a longer, healthier life. Call us today to make your appointment.
Photo credit: Eric Isselée | Photos.com