Obesity in Pets – Part II

From Part I of Obesity in pets, we’ll remember that overfeeding is the most common reason for obesity in animals and is an easy thing to do when you feed grain-based dry foods which are high in carbohydrates. More and more, there are dry foods becoming available that contain no grain and use a starch source such as potato instead. These may potentially be a better choice for “Chunky Charlie”. For example, Timberwolf Organics and Innova EVO are two foods that follow this philosophy in their choice of starch quantity and type.

It is easy to forget about the fact that dry foods contain very little moisture. In order to bring it to the moisture level of non-dehydrated food, we would have to add almost a cup of water to every cup of dry food. That means that you are really feeding 2 cups of “food” to your 12 pound cat when you scoop 1 cup into his bowl every day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that would be equivalent to you eating 24 cups of the moistened product every day. You might get fat too!

In order to lose weight, most pets should be on a diet that has very low levels of grain or none at all. An option for the obese pet is to completely stay away from dry food, at least until the weight is back to the ideal. And that includes all of the “diet low calorie” foods in addition to the milk biscuits and any other dry baked treats that have grain in them. For every VitaBone your dog eats, that would be equivalent to you eating several slices of bread!

So what to feed instead? Well, a good quality canned diet may be okay or restricted amounts of low carbohydrate dry food, but perhaps even better is a raw natural diet customized for your pet. While not for everybody, or for every pet, raw diets have increasingly shown themselves to be extremely beneficial for a large number of pets with a wide range of problems. If your pet is doing fine on a dry diet and is in good condition, then perhaps the only thing that needs changing is to include a variety of dry diets and some fresh veggies and fruit added in. But if they have compromising health problems, including obesity, the raw way is worth checking in to.

On average, a pet can lose 10-15% of their body weight over a 3-4 month period. So we would not expect 50 pound “Charlie” to lose 10 pounds in two months. That is too much too fast. Regular weigh-ins to keep tabs on weight changes are beneficial for both owners and pets. It is always encouraging to see even small yet steady losses. What is even better is seeing the change in the attitude and energy levels of previously obese pets. That alone is worth it. A common client comment is “My dog is like a new dog!”

With canned, dry or raw diets, the pet must have something to gnaw on to help keep their teeth sparkling white and free of tartar. A common misconception amongst pet owners is that dry diets act as “toothbrushes”. This is a myth which, if true, would mean vets would rarely have any teeth to clean. But, the fact of the matter is that teeth cleaning accounts for a significant percentage of veterinary surgical procedures. Anyone ever watching a dog eat kibble will see that most just wolf it down, bypassing the teeth completely! What does keep teeth clean is gnawing on good quality chews and crunching on raw bones (never cooked). Even cats will chew through a raw wing tip or other poultry part if encouraged.

Pawsitive Veterianarian Care is a Kelowna vet. Contact us if you require advice on holistic methods to slim down your pet.

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