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Chunky Pets! How to Help Them Lose

Posted on: September 12th, 2011 by

Hi. I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Brenda, who says, “My three-year-old feline is a chunky monkey. She has her dry food monitored but she’s only lost three pounds and needs to lose three more. She’s on Royal Canin Weight Management. It’s the lowest-fat dry food I’ve found. She gets less than a cup a day. What else can I do?”

Cats and dogs are the same as people in that weight loss has to be by burning more calories than they’re taking in. If she has additional weight to lose, she really needs less calories still. Something that you can do would be to cut back that food even just a little bit more. Try to be patient. When you’re a cat and you only weigh 10 or 13 pounds, or whatever your cat weighs right now, that weight loss is going to be really slow. You should aim for probably no more than a pound a month or so. There’s a possibility that if she’s already lost the three, you just need to be a little bit more patient.

You could try switching to a weight management canned food. Canned food tends to have more water content in it, and it’s kind of a bigger amount of food but it’s less dense in terms of its calories. That would be another way you could make her feel like she’s eating more food but actually is taking in less calories. Keep up the good work. A healthy pet is usually a thin pet, so I applaud your efforts there.

The next question also has to do with weight and it comes from Sue. She has a Bichon mix who is very overweight. He’s on weight manage food but it doesn’t seem to be helping. He’s a rescue and has doubled in weight.

We see this sometimes in pets that have been rescued that had poor nutrition before. They never knew when their next meal was going to come so they tried to really eat all the time. What he needs to learn is that his next meal is coming. Great job on getting him on a weight management food, but what you probably need to do now is portion control.

Rather than letting him graze all day with a bowl of weight management food, you’re going to need to actually measure his food. Get an actual measuring cup from the grocery store and follow the back of the bag. Aim for the weight he should be, and aim for the low end of the range that’s on the back of the bag. It’s usually a good place to start.

I recommend feeding dogs twice a day. If he’s the kind of dog that likes to graze all the time and you put the food down and he doesn’t particularly eat it all in one sitting, put his measured amount in. If he doesn’t eat it in 10 minutes or so, then the food goes away and he gets it for dinner. Then the same thing; set it down for dinner, and if he doesn’t eat it that time, take it away and he gets it for breakfast. He’ll figure out eventually that you’re going to take his food away so he’ll learn to eat a whole meal at one time and you’ll have a much easier time with portion control.
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