Some Risks of Poor Nutrition

Diabetes, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, bladder stones – no, these aren’t illnesses that only humans experience, they’re also some of the negative consequences of obesity in pets. And just like with human health, they can sadly also shorten a pet’s lifespan. Proper nutrition and exercise are important steps to prevent excessive weight gain in your pet and are also key when it comes to weight loss. It’s important to make sure that whatever you decide to do to get your pet in shape, that you discuss your goals with your veterinarian before you begin. Just as crash diets and intense exercise routines are bad for us, they’re just as harmful to our pets, so having a plan in place before you begin is a good idea.

Oreo and Monkey on a Weight Loss Journey

Oreo and Monkey are senior indoor cats who aren’t very active. Instead of playing, they spend most of their time lounging on the couch and sleeping in the sun. Although neither have any major health concerns, their owner noticed that Oreo had put on some extra weight and was worried what this meant for her future health. Because Oreo would steal from Monkey’s bowl, this made it difficult to regulate how much she ate every day. Oreo’s owner spoke with her veterinarian about possibly changing Oreo’s diet and what she should be doing to help with her cat’s weight loss.

The first step was a full physical exam to make sure that Oreo didn’t have any underlying issues like diabetes. With routine blood work, Oreo’s tests came back normal and despite the extra pounds, she was diagnosed as healthy. The veterinarian and owner discussed the diet Oreo and Monkey were currently eating. The majority of their daily food intake was a high fat kibble and was supplemented with wet food in the evening. After discussing each cat’s daily eating habits, the vet determined that they both needed to make a switch to a healthier, low fat diet. Because the clinic knew Oreo’s most recent weight, the veterinary clinic’s Registered Veterinary Technician was able to calculate how many calories she needed to eat each day with a new, healthier kibble. The owner now needed to weigh Oreo’s kibble on a kitchen scale to make sure she wasn’t accidentally being fed too much.

Tips, Tricks and Tools for Pet Weight Loss

The final step was looking at her lifestyle and how this was contributing to her weight gain. Oreo and Monkey’s feeding bowls had always been placed next to each other and this gave Oreo ample opportunity to steal food from her friend’s bowl. Her owner decided to feed them in separate rooms, with Monkey’s food bowl up on a table that Oreo rarely visited. This forced Oreo to only eat her food which was on the floor. Her owner also received information on treat puzzles, snuffle mats and treat dispenser bowls as a way of getting Oreo to also work for her food. She purchased more toys for both cats to play with and made sure that they both received at least 10-15 minutes of exercise time every day. She kept in contact with her clinic and gave them monthly updates on Oreo’s weight loss by weighing her at home. Over the course of six months, Oreo began to lose weight at a healthy rate and her owner was happy with the improvement. The weight loss plan her veterinarian created for Oreo and her determination were instrumental in helping Oreo’s weight loss journey.

Choosing the Right Food for Your Pet

There are many different brands of pet food on the market that all boast they hold the key to your pet’s health. It can be daunting trying to make sure you choose the right diet for your pet. Your veterinarian and clinic staff can be a big help when it comes to making the right diet decision. Kittens and puppies have just as specific nutritional needs as older spayed and neutered pets and seniors. Asking your vet which diet is right for your pet at their specific stage of life is important. Kitten and puppy food is appropriate for your pet in the first year of their life, but is too rich in fat for older pets, so switching diets to an adult food when it’s appropriate is key. Your vet will be able to advise you on specific types of food that are more appropriate for your pet in their current stage of life.

Beyond Nutrition

Taking your dog for daily walks and playing with your cat are great ways to keep your pet active, but if you’re looking for new ideas, check out our recent blog, “Exercising Indoor With Your Pet” **insert blog link**. We have a list of fun and entertaining exercise ideas for both cats and dogs, but making sure your pet is healthy before starting an exercise regime is key. Lameness, arthritis and underlying illnesses can all be aggravated by exercising inappropriately. With a complete physical exam, your veterinarian will be able to put together an exercise routine that will help support your pet with the correct pain management, appropriate exercises and physical rehabilitation. Start your pet’s journey to their best physical health – contact Caledon Vaughan Veterinary House Call Services about creating a nutrition and exercise plan that’s right for your pet.


Author:  Meaghan Michaud RVT
Caledon-Vaughan Veterinary House Call Services