One of the most frequent problems that veterinarians deal with on a regular basis is the problem of overweight animals.  We hear about this problem in people all the time, and it’s a problem that has carried over to our pets.

We all can agree that carrying around extra weight isn’t a good thing, and many of us expend a lot of effort trying to keep our own weight under control.  Extra pounds stress or hearts, our skeletal systems and our immune systems.  In short, extra weight leads to health problems.  This is true not only for ourselves but for our dogs and cats as well.  For example, an older dog with arthritis in its rear legs doesn’t need to be carting around any excess pounds.  Arthritis hurts enough without carrying around extra weight.

As many of you know, I am quick to point out weight problems when you bring your pets in for their annual physical examinations, and unfortunately in far too many cases the weights spiral slowly upwards with each passing year.  Putting you dog or cat on a diet is not easy.  In fact it’s hard work.  As anyone knows who has tried to diet themselves, dieting is tough.  It is impossible to diet painlessly.  Changing old eating habits is difficult, but it’s really important if your pet is overweight, especially if he or she is significantly overweight.  Remember that when a 20 pound dog puts on one pound it’s the same as a 150 pound person putting on seven and a half pounds.

The first step to successful dieting is getting an accurate handle on what you’re doing now with respect to feeding your pet and giving your pet treats.  This means that everyone in the family has to be involved in sharing exactly what they feed the pet every day.  If you don’t have accurate picture of what you’re doing now, it’s impossible to make meaningful changes.  If you change your pet’s dietary regimen by cutting out 5-10 % of the calories, you will usually achieve weight stability.  Remember that the most important goal of dieting isn’t weight loss, it’s weight stability.  You need to at least stop the year-to-year weight gain.  If you want weight loss, you will need to decrease your pet’s daily caloric intake by 10-15 percent.  Start by cutting out the needless calories like table scraps.  Limit treats to good-quality crunchy treats in small quantities.

The other part of weight control is exercise, but in all honesty it is rare for an owner to be successful at controlling their pet’s weight by increasing the amount of exercise alone.  It’s a combination of decreased caloric intake and increased caloric burning that is most successful.  Weigh you dog every 2-3 months to chart their progress.  It’s important to get feedback about your success or failure. The hospital scale is available for your use pretty much anytime, but call before you come in.  There is no charge for weighing your pet. Please schedule an appointment If you need help coming up with an effective diet plan!