Obesity in dogs and cats

Is my pet obese?

Pets are considered obese when they weigh 15-20% more than their ideal body weight. That is saying a lot because one extra pound in a dog is the equivalent of thirty extra pounds in a human! The same extra 3 pounds in a cat is equivalent to 45 extra pounds in a human.

However, since pets do not all have the same body conformation, one cannot simply rely on their weights to determine if they are obese or not. Their shapes need to be evaluated as well.

Hence, in a dog or a cat that has an ideal body weight, no matter what breed, one should be able to easily feel its ribs underneath its skin without them sticking out, its abdomen should not be sagging and its flanks should be a little bit sunken.

Dogs and cats often suffer from an excess weight because they ingest more calories than they spend. In dogs, this is often due to the fact that they don't exercice a lot and that they eat too much food and treats, not to mention all the human leftovers that they eat on top of that.

Cats in general also do not exercise enough. Moreover, they often have access at all times to an unlimited quantity of dry food as well as to a lot of treats.

Our weight loss program

We offer a weight loss program to our clientele. This service, which is  completely free and personalized for each animal, is given by our animal health technicians. This program takes into account:

  • the animal's weight,
  • his conformation,
  • his age,
  • his level of physical activity.

A healthy weight loss in a dog is in the range of 1-2% of his body weight per week. Cats, on the other hand, should lose 1% of their weight per week. We don't want the loss of weight to drag on, but the animal must not lose weight too quickly because it could be dangerous for his health.

In order to follow the evolution of animals weight, we recommend that they be weighed in the clinic once a month. These follow-ups are also free.

Prevention is key!

It is much easier to prevent an animal from gaining too much weight than to make him lose weight once he is obese. To avoid an excess weight gain, the animal must spend more calories than he consumes.

The caloric requirements of animals depend on:

  • their age (growth, adult or old age),
  • their lifestyle (sedentary or active),
  • their reproductive status (sterilized or not),
  • their health status.

Consequences associated with obesity

Obesity is not just an esthetic problem. It is a condition that is now recognized as being a disease in itself and that has enormous repercussions on pets' health. 

Indeed, obesity can cause other diseases that affect the health, the quality of life and pets' life expectancy.

Here are 7 diseases and conditions associated with obesity:

  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • urinary problems
  • heart disease
  • constipation
  • skin problems
  • arthritis

In addition, obesity increases the risks of anesthetic complications that can lead to the death of the animal.

So, it is imperative to prevent pets from getting obese. Their health depends on it!

Reducing diets

If the good practices mentioned above are not enough to make the pet lose weight, then he should be fed a reducing diet.

Because the pet's weight loss must be supervised by a veterinarian to ensure that it is done safely, reducing diets are available only in veterinary facilities.

The technology behind this type of diet has evolved significantly in recent years, making reducing diets much more effective than before.

The principle of action of older generations of reducing diets is based mainly on the fact that, compared to regular maintenance foods, reducing diets:

  • Are less caloric;
  • Contain more fiber, which promotes the feeling of satiety (stops hunger);
  • Contain less sugars and more proteins.

In addition to the features mentioned above, today's reducing diets contain:

  • Natural ingredients known to burn fat (tomato, carrot, L-Carnitine, coconut oil, flaxseed). These ingredients regulate appetite, reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and improve the animal's energy metabolism;
  • Large amounts of lysine that help metabolize fat to produce energy and maintain lean muscle mass;
  • A unique blend of fiber from fruits and vegetables that triggers satiety, controls appetite and maintains digestive tract health.

Maintenance food

To find out how much food an animal needs to eat, one can consult the food chart on the back of the bag of food. However, the quantities are listed as a guide only because they only take into account the pets weight, but not their conformation nor their daily caloric needs.

We invite you to talk to one of our animal health technicians. He or she will be able to calculate precisely your pet's daily caloric needs, and tell you exactly how much food he should eat each day.

The animal health technician may also suggest a high nutritional quality that is easily digestible. When a food's digestibility is high, it provides nutrients that will be easily absorbed and that will fully benefit the animal. His hunger will then be satisfied with smaller amounts of food than if he eats a food with low digestibility.

Canned food

Giving canned food to pets can also help them avoid gaining too much weight. On the one hand, wet food is usually less caloric than dry food. On the other hand, it contains a lot of water that takes up space in the stomach, which helps animals feel full.

Treats

Treats offered in large quantities can sometimes provide too many calories to animals. Treats should not exceed 10% of their daily caloric needs.

Feeding toys

Feeding toys are also a good way to help dogs and cats not gain too much weight. In addition to having them exercise more, feeding toys force them to eat more slowly. Animals stop being hungry with less food than if they eat quickly.

To summarize everything

Many dogs and cats that are presented to us are overweight or obese. Yet, it is well recognized that obesity is not just an aesthetic problem. Indeed, it is a harmful condition that can lead to several health problems. It is therefore important that our pets avoid gaining to much weight gain and that they lose weight if they are too fat.

You think your pet has weight to lose? Make an appointment with an animal health technician at one of our establishments to have your pet evaluated to see if they will benefit from our weight loss program.

How to succeed in making pets lose weight?

  • Recognizing that the pet is very big not because he is sturdy, but because he is too fat;
  • Understanding that the pet risks getting sick because of the extra weight;
  • Being determined to change the pet's eating habits. This involves:
    • Having the exact amount of food the pet needs to eat calculated based on his ideal weight, life stage, and amount of daily exercise;
    • Respecting the calculated amount and resisting the temptation to give more (e.g. filling the bowl when empty, giving too many treats, offering table food, etc.);
  • Making him exercise more.