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Obesity in Pets: What Can You Do?

Is your pet overweight or even obese? Obesity in pets is an epidemic that mirrors the problem in the human population. Data gathered in 2002 by the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that 40% of pet dogs in the United States were either overweight or obese. Unfortunately, many pet owners do not recognize that their pet is not in ideal body condition

Obesity is harmful to the health of your pet dog or cat. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the joints and can lead to pain and decreased activity. In some breeds of dogs, this excess weight can contribute to orthopedic problems such as ruptured cruciate ligaments in the knees and disk disease in the back. These problems require surgical correction and recovery is more difficult because of the extra weight that the dog is carrying.

In overweight cats, we sometimes diagnose diabetes. Just like overweight humans, overweight cats can develop diabetes that is responsive to weight reduction and dietary management. These cats may not require insulin therapy once their weight is decreased.

So, what is the best approach to managing your pet’s body condition? The first step is to enlist the help of your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can teach you how to evaluate your pet’s body condition. The ideal is lean body condition, which to many pet owners appears to be a “skinny” pet. The ribs should not be visible, but should be very easily felt when running your hands along your pet’s ribcage. From the side, your pet should have a tucked up abdomen (no flab hanging down from that kitty’s belly) and if your pet is standing up and you are looking down on them, there should be an obvious waist between the end of the ribcage and the beginning of the hips. If your pet is found to be above the ideal body condition score, your veterinarian can help by calculating the required calorie intake for your pet to achieve the ideal condition.

Modification of your pet’s diet, along with increased activity, should help your pet return to a healthier condition in short order. A new medication is now available for overweight dogs. Slentrol, launched by Pfizer Animal Health, worked in a clinical trial (combined with diet and exercise) to reduce weight by 11% in one half of the participating dogs. The medication works by suppressing your dog’s appetite. However, dogs will often eat what we offer so if we are overfeeding calories, nothing will work.

Changing your pet’s diet might be beneficial, at least until the ideal condition is achieved. One of the challenges we faced with the low fat, high fiber weight loss diets was poor palatability. New formulas made with high protein and moderate fat content will help your pet lose weight without as much trouble with palatability. Premium Edge Healthy Weight I Weight Reduction Formula for Dogs and Premium Edge Healthy Weight Reduction and Control Formula for Cats are options that you have to help return your pet to a healthy, lean body condition. The high protein content will promote the sparing of muscle tissue during the weight loss process and will force your pet’s body to burn fat for energy. Added L-carnitine, a vitamin like nutrient, promotes metabolism of fat for energy and protects the health of the liver. This nutrient also helps regulate blood sugar levels, an important benefit for overweight cats.

Once your dog achieves ideal body condition, transition to the Premium Edge Healthy Weight II Weight Control Formula. This formula has moderate protein content and lower fat to help maintain lean body condition. For cats, it is possible to maintain their condition with slightly larger feeding amounts of the Healthy Weight Cat Formula.

Help your pet get healthy with Premium Edge!


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