Obesity and Weight Loss in Pets

Almost half of Australian dogs are estimated to be overweight. Obesity is a cause of serious illness in pets and has been proven to lead to a shortened life span in affected dogs.

Overweight dogs are at risk of suffering from:

  • Arthritis, back pain, hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture
  • Respiratory disease and heat stress
  • Diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis
  • Hypertension and heart disease
  • Increased anaesthetic and surgical risk

Identifying Obesity

A pet in optimal body condition should have visible contours such as a waistline. Bony prominences (such as the ribs and hip bones) should be easily palpable. Your veterinarian can help you assess your animal’s ideal body weight.

Weight Loss Protocol

  1. Weigh your dog and record its current weight.
  2. Estimate your pet’s ideal weight in consultation with your vet. This weight will become your goal.
  3. Calculate the daily calorie intake required to achieve this goal weight.
  4. Construct a diet which contains this calorie content but which also contains adequate protein and nutrients. A diet which is also able to satisfy your pet’s feeling of hunger is desirable.
  5. Coach all family members on sticking to feeding this diet with no extra food or treats fed.
  6. Start regular exercise.
  7. Return to the vet clinic for weekly weigh ins.

Calculating Calorie Requirement

Pet’s present weight:­­­­­­­­­­­­____________kg

Pet’s ideal weight:­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________kg

Kilocalories to maintain ideal weight (Dog = ideal weight  x 30+70; Cat = Weight x 70) ______kcal/day

Kilocalories to achieve ideal weight (60% of maintenance kcal) ________kcal/day

What to Feed

The first option is to reduce the quantity of the current diet being fed to your pet. The correct amount can be calculated based on the kilocalorie content of the food per 100 grams. Commercial dry and canned food should be labelled with this information.

When regular diets are fed in reduced quantities to reduce calorie intake this also results in a reduction in protein and vitamin and mineral intake. Specific weight-loss diets (e.g. Hill’s Prescription r/d diet) address this issue by fortifying the food with nutrients while reducing the calorie content. They are also designed to make your pet feel full and less likely to beg and scavenge. These special diets are, therefore, the preferred weight loss foods.

Feeding the daily ration in two feeds (morning and night) will help to keep your pet more satisfied. If they remain hungry their meal can be bulked out with high fibre, low-calorie vegetables such as pumpkin and carrot.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, please contact us.