Help Your Overweight Pet Lose Weight

On newsstands now is my latest article, “Vital Signs: Pets” for the September/October 2010 issue of Natural Health magazine.

One of the important topics I covered in the article was obese pets. It’s a huge (pun intended) problem in the United States with an estimated 89 million U.S. dogs and cats overweight or obese. Even my own adorable yellow Lab weighed a whopping 118 pounds when my husband and I first adopted him 6 months ago. I spoke to Edward Moser, V.D.M., consulting veterinary nutritionist to Wellness Brand Pet Food, who suggested counting calories of your dog or cat daily meals and treats.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been using the following tips (even counting Buddy’s calories) and he’s lost 15 pounds since the end of January.

Other helpful hints:
1) Mix in fruits and vegetables to your pet’s meals like green beans, puréed pumpkin, carrots, or tomatoes fills up your pet without adding calories. “A fruit or vegetable high in fiber and water content are perfect treats,” adds Moser.
2) Sprinkle kelp powder or dried kelp flakes on their food, which can aid in the slimming process since kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism.
3) Break up meals into several feedings to keep your pet’s metabolism running all day long. “With multiple meals, your pet utilizes the nutrition all through the day instead of big ups and downs with one large meal,” comments Moser.
4) Toys like the SlimCat or Kibble Nibble, which dispense food when pushed, get your chubby companion to exercise while eating their food slowly.
5) Use a dog food calculator (, click on care & feeding, then dog food calculator) to input your dog’s age and current weight to find out their resting energy requirements (RER), which are the number of calories your dog should be consuming. Compare the RER amount to the calories your dog is actually eating in a day. Reduce your canine’s calorie intake by one percent of their current body weight for them to lose weight.
For felines, females should weigh 10-11 pounds, and a male around 11-13 pounds. To figure out their RER, you can use a simple math equation that Moser shared. RER (kcal /d) = [13.6 x optimal body weight in pounds] + 70. For example, if you have a 15-pound cat and want to get their weight down to 12 pounds, you would feed them 233 kcal a day.

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