Overweight pet? The reasons your pet isn’t losing weight
For pets and people alike, it is easier to keep weight off than to lose it. An overweight pet with even a few extra pounds can experience consequences for their long-term health and wellness. Weight-loss diets can be difficult to maintain – especially once behavioral patterns are established to overeat, sneak treats, and munch on snacks throughout the day.
Despite warnings of developing associated diseases (such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer) and early mortality, a shockingly high number of pets are considered overweight or obese, mainly seniors. Weight gain occurs when an individual consumes too many calories with insufficient opportunities to burn them off. Many pets live fairly sedentary lives and eat energy-dense food. Lots of naps combined with even a normal amount of food plus regular treats can be more damaging than you think.
An overweight pet simply needs less food and more exercise, right? It’s not always that easy.
The Measuring Cup
Overfeeding is the most obvious reason for added weight, but certain medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism can affect a pet’s metabolism. Before you make changes to your pet’s diet, we recommend ruling out what could be going on beneath the surface.
A wellness exam is helpful in discerning whether your pet is up for rigorous exercise.
Trying to Lose Weight
There could be other explanations behind why an overweight pet isn’t losing weight or isn’t losing it fast enough.
The ideal place to start is with an understanding of the Body Condition Score (BCS). Taking into account your pet’s species, breed, age and lifestyle we can determine their weight and exercise plan, for them to achieve the optimal score on the BCS.
A Greater Challenge
Once you know how much your pet should ideally weigh, you can determine their daily intake of food, snacks, treats, supplements, and people food. Look at the ingredients lists on food labels and call us with any questions.
An overweight pet might benefit from removing about 25-40% of their previous calorie count, but because they depend on critical vitamins and nutrients, cutting calories from their meals isn’t necessarily a healthy alternative. Instead, reduce the amount of extra calories they receive from snacks and treats.
The Rx Solution
Prescription diets can help to ensure an overweight pet gets all the nutrition they need, without extra calories. We are happy to discuss viable options for your pet’s weight and lifestyle.
While dieting, we recommend weighing your pet every 2 to 4 weeks and noting changes on the BCS. It’s reasonable to aim for losing 1-2% of body weight every week. It can take over a month to see any changes. Let us know if no changes to weight have occurred after 4 to 6 weeks.
While restricting unnecessary calories is the foundation for weight loss, the process can be supported by increased exercise. Preserving muscle mass and increasing metabolism are just two benefits of exercising to lose weight.
Other options may involve:
- Food puzzles
- Slow feeders
- Fresh veggies and fruits (to help your pet feel full during meals)
- Ensuring that all family members are adhering to the dietary restrictions (and always use the same measuring cup!)
Dedication to an Overweight Pet
A few extra pounds put on over the course of many months can really sneak up on pet owners. Preventing extra weight gain is the best option, but with daily discipline and dedication, an overweight pet can achieve their optimal weight.
If we can assist with questions, let us know.
About Furever Family Veterinary Care Center
As an AAHA Accredited Veterinary Care Center, we care about your animals from nose-to-tail throughout their lifetime and have built our practice to support as much of your pet's needs here on site.
We have a deep love for every furry friend and know that they are part of your Family – and deserve to be treated that way.