The month of January is dedicated to proper nutrition for our pets! Just like many of us make New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves, we may be able to make some for our pets as well. Veterinarians use specific diets to help treat a number of different diseases, but the issue that is commonly overlooked or underdiagnosed is the overweight or obese patient. We know that an overweight patient is at a higher risk of developing many other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Veterinarians have a measured and scientific way of evaluating a patient’s weight, which is called a Body Condition Score. We use several markers during the physical exam to determine if the body condition is below, above, or within the normal condition. If you are at all concerned that your pet may be overweight, your veterinarian can help you determine that with an exam! And don’t forget to ask us to show you the body condition chart!
The goal of a diet for your pet is to decrease the number of calories they receive in a day without restricting the nutrients that they need. This is typically why your veterinarian will recommend a formulated weight loss diet. There are both over the counter and prescription options that can be discussed at your next appointment.
Prior to considering a weight loss diet, it is important that we make sure that the food your pet is eating on a daily basis is carefully measured. Make sure you have a measuring cup dedicated to your pet’s food, rather than a scoop or household cup. We should also consider how many calories our pets receive as treats during the day. The number of calories in a small treat can sometimes be shockingly higher than we would ever expect, then consider how many your pet receives over the course of the day. Switching to treats with very low calorie content can help you reach a weight loss goal as well.
Finally, nutrition is intimately associated with an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise is just as important for our pets as it is for us! So make sure you get out there with them and enjoy this beautiful weather! And for your kitties, make sure they have some playtime of their own too. You’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Molly Jette