This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about weight loss for pets.
Q: My cat is overweight but very active, and when I asked my vet what to do, he just recommended giving her less food, so I now feed her 2/3 of a 5-oz can (Wellness canned food) per day. She is still the same weight after I cut back (from 1 full can a day), and she is now meowing more and visibly hungry, hanging out in the kitchen all the time begging for more food. I’m worried that she’s not getting enough food, and I’m surprised she hasn’t lost any weight. What should I do to help her lose weight? She does get exercise and that doesn’t seem to affect the weight either. Could it be a thyroid issue or some other medical concern?
A: To first determine how much weight your cat needs to lose – measure her body weight or body condition. To start a weight loss and control program an accurate body weight must be recorded. Weigh the cat frequently. Visual inspection/estimation of body weight is not enough because it is inaccurate and not repeatable. I would recommend purchasing a small animal or pediatric scale to weigh your pet regularly.
Feeding one 5.5 ounce can per day of Wellness food provides about 200 kcal of energy per day (depending on recipe). When you lowered the amount offered to 2/3 can per day, it decreases the caloric intake to 133 kcal per day. That is 66% of the original calorie intake and will result in weight reduction. It is a substantial decrease in amount of food offered and is expected to trigger some hunger behavior.
Get an accurate body weight and body condition score during a veterinary exam; rule out any medical problems. Then, plan on feeding the amount of calories daily to promote weight loss. Start at offering about 66% original caloric intake—about 2/3 cans per day. Feed at least two meals per day—no treats, plenty of water. Maintain the elevated exercise level you describe. Weigh the cat twice weekly; on Tuesday and Saturday and record the results in a notebook.
In this case, the diet I would recommend is Wellness® CORE® Salmon, Whitefish and Herring Canned Food Recipe because of its high protein and lower fat content. It helps maintain lean body mass and may contribute to “that feeling of fullness.” It has 192 calories per 5.5 ounce can— so feed about ¾ can per day. Adjust the amount fed to your cat based on actual results and desired body weight loss.
Q: My dog needs to lose 4 lbs. She is a miniature Pincher Dachshund and she weighs 14 lbs and is just beginning to have a little tummy. I only feed her 1/2 cup of kibble in the morning and 1/2 cup at night but she is not loosing weight. I cannot get her to run and chase a ball, but I do take her to the park and walk her. Maybe I should walk her more?
A: I would recommend that you decrease the amount you are feeding and increase the level of physical activity to help your dog reach an ideal body weight. Try offering 1/3 cup of dry Wellness SuperMix® Small Breed Adult Health Recipe Dry Dog Food in two meals; with one feeding in the morning and one at night. A total of 2/3 cups per day or 280 kcal. While feeding this diet, it is important that you offer your dog no table food or treats. You can feed some raw fruits and vegetables as a snack to mix things up a bit. To measure your dog’s progress on this weight loss plan, weigh the dog twice weekly; Tuesday and Saturday and record the results. As far as physical activity is concerned, I recommend walks of at least 30 minutes by leash. Feel free to adjust the amount you feed based on results you are seeing, and desired weight loss.