Almost every time I have a conversation regarding an overweight pet the client says they are feeding based on the recommendations on the back of the food bag. So why is the pet still overweight?
Any food that is “complete and balanced” legally has to have feeding directions on the product label. These guidelines are based on average estimates which means if your pet is more sedentary, which most dog/cats lead a more sedentary lifestyle then they should, then we very easily are feeding them too much!
So what can you do as a fur baby parent?
First of all talk to your veterinarian and/or technician if your pet is overweight or beginning to gain weight. Just like in people its easier to put weight on then it is to take off. Here at Oakview Veterinary Medical Center we use a BCS, body condition score, of 1-9. Ideal in dogs is 4-5/9 and ideal for cats is 5-6/9. Its a lot easier to intervene when your animal is only 1 number away from ideal then when they are a 9 out of 9.
To us weight is just a number. What a BCS scoring chart guides us to do is to figure out if our furbaby is overweight by feel. And this is something that we can also teach owners to do at home. Once we have a current weight and a BCS we can calculate how many calories they need to stay at their current weight, gain or lose.
One thing that we cannot do is limit calories soooo much that we risk the pet not getting the nutrients they need. That’s why sometimes we have to recommend a prescription diet. Over the Counter diets have directions based on how they have formulated that particular diet, which means if we cut calories too much we literally are not giving them certain vitamins/minerals, etc they need to function. Prescription weight loss diets are formulated specifically for weight loss which means they are designed to feed lesser calories and are still including the appropriate nutrition.
Something else we can do is to throw that food bowl away!!!
What you say!?!?
Use food puzzles so the cat/dog has to work for their food instead of just inhaling from a bowl.
The good news is you do not have to spend an arm and a leg on these! There are many DIY types you can make easily and cheaply at home.
Another reason you should have guidance from a veterinary team member is because we want to have your pet lose weight in a healthy trend and not too fast. In some species like cats we actually can cause a disease called “fatty liver” if we let them lose too much weight too fast!
So be an advocate for your pets nutrition and contact one of our amazing team members here at Oakview if you need help!
Nutrition is the key to health and happiness!
by Angel Blenker
Angel graduated from Madison Area Technical College in 2004 with a Veterinary Technology degree and received her certification same year. She joined us in 2006 and became our lead technician in 2008. Angel goes to numerous continuing education events including the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Her special interests include alternative modalities and nutrition. She is available for nutrition consults. Angel and her husband, Kris share their house with Jerry an 8 year old DSH and Leo who is a 7 year old Dalmatian. Angel loves spending time with her family and animals. When Angel has spare time she enjoys volunteering, traveling or reading a good book.