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December Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

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.

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

dog_catThe holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together and give thanks for what we have. Today pets are a significant part of our families and are included in the celebration. If you are like us, the Thanksgiving feast is one that you look forward to all year long. While we may be able to throw caution to the wind once a year, we must be careful about what our pets receive on that day. Both dogs and cats are not used to some of the indulgences of the day and can have serious problems.

Here are 10 things to consider to keep your pet healthy and happy on Thanksgiving.

  1. Many of the traditional foods contain large amounts of fat which should be avoided. Gravy, turkey skin, the drippings from the turkey pan and other foods should be avoided. Excess fat can create problems with the pancreas and further aggravate an already overweight animal.
  2. Pancreatitis is a very painful condition most commonly brought on by an excessively large meal or a meal with increased amounts of fat (there are other causes, but during the holiday season this is the most common cause). It stimulates the pancreas to produce large amounts of the enzymes needed to digest the nutrients. If there are increased amounts in the pancreas, sometimes these enzymes can’t get out of the pancreas fast enough and begin to actually break down the wall of the ducts and leak into the abdomen. This can cause vomiting diarrhea, restlessness, weakness, discomfort and can even be life threatening.
  3. Bones should be avoided at all cost, especially the bones of birds as they are hollow and can break into very sharp pieces which will wreak havoc with the digestive tract.
  4. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate should be avoided as there is a toxin, theobromine in all chocolate.
  5. When it comes to our beloved family pets, the key word is moderation. Be careful that everyone is not slipping the pets a few tidbits from the table. Set the rules early on for who feeds the pets and when.
  6. Watch out for dropped food, especially by our younger family members.
  7. Make sure all garbage is secure and not left to tempt a pet when we aren’t looking. Cats and even some dogs can easily get on counter tops when we are enjoying our meal in another room.
  8. Pets are also attracted to aluminum foil, wax paper and plastic wrap that has been used to cover foods. These items can cause digestive issues and even obstruction.
  9. Some pets become nervous with all the excitement and may need a quiet refuge away from all the noise and excitement.
  10. If you have a large family and there will be lots of doors to the outside opened and closed, be careful that there are no escapes into the wild that could ruin the day.

Thanksgiving is a great day full of great food and companionship. Make it the same for the pets in your family by planning ahead. For a Thanksgiving turkey meal your pet will love, try Wellness 95% Turkey Recipe or Wellness Turkey Stew for dogs and Wellness Sliced Turkey Entrée for Cats.

December Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about a cat with food allergies, keeping a dog’s coat shiny and feeding a dog with pancreatic issues.

Q: I am currently trying to switch my lab to Wellness® Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe dry dog food because it is low in fat. He is currently being treated for pancreatic insufficiency and is on a prescription dry food with added pancreatic enzymes and probiotics. I am trying to switch to an over the counter dry dog food. Would Wellness Healthy Weight be the one to switch to? Do you have any suggestions as to what Wellness diet I should try?

A: Your vet has diagnosed your adult dog with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).

Dogs with EPI have a history of chronic small intestinal diarrhea, weight loss and failure to thrive. Pets with EPI defecate frequently (6 to 10 times per day); have stools that are typically voluminous, greasy, foul smelling and pale in color. EPI refers to a partial or complete deficiency of pancreatic enzymes and is the most common cause of maldigestion in dogs. It may occur in young dogs as a congenital disorder (pancreatic acinar cell atrophy) or may develop as a sequel to pancreatitis.

The dietary management goals for patients with EPI are: a highly digestible diet with low to moderate fat (10 to 15% as fed) and low crude fiber (less than 4% as fed).

The Wellness diet of choice for your dog’s condition is Wellness® Simple Food Solutions® dry dog food. The Simple Food Solutions family of diets consists of a choice of 3 novel animal proteins: Duck, Lamb and Salmon. All three Simple Food Solutions dry dog food formulas contain rice as a carbohydrate source; canola oil as a fat source; a small amount of tomato pomace added for gut health and stool quality- the diet crude fiber remains less than 2%. Additionally, these diets are fortified with fat and water soluble vitamins; the Simple Food Solutions diets do not contain added probiotics. I would recommend trying Wellness Simple Food Solutions Salmon & Rice Formula dry dog food initially.

Your vet would continue to recommend supplemental digestive enzymes and probiotics. Serum cobalamin (B12) levels will be monitored by your vet to assure adequate levels.

I would recommend that you feed frequent small meals; monitor your pet’s body weight, stool consistency & frequency and continue with regular veterinary evaluations.

Q: I have a 5 year old cat with food allergies. She can’t have food with many grains and is allergic to chicken. Does Wellness have a type of food that she would be able to eat?

A: Working with your vet you have identified a sensitivity in your cat to feeding diets that contain chicken as a primary animal protein source and a long list of grains. For long term maintenance you want to identify Wellness feline diets that avoid chicken and turkey protein sources and limit grain ingredients. The Wellness diets of choice would be: Wellness CORE® grain free Salmon, Whitefish, and Herring Recipe, and Complete Health Beef and Salmon Recipe canned cat food.

The Beef and Salmon Recipe has salmon and beef as primary protein sources, and contains no grains. Some carbohydrate is contributed by sweet potato, flax, and vegetables. A 3 ounce can contain 107 kilocalories of energy.

CORE Salmon, Whitefish and Herring Recipe is also 100% poultry and grain free. In addition to fish; potato, cranberry, flax, and chicory root extract are included at low levels.

A 5.5 ounce can contain 192 kilocalories of energy.

Q: We love Wellness products! We have a 140 lb Bullmastiff that has suffered from chronic ear infections and skin issues. Wellness CORE is the food that keeps these issues at bay. With Wellness CORE his coat does not seem as shiny. I was wondering how I could bring more sheen to his coat. Will supplementing the dry CORE with wet food help give him get a shinier coat?

A: CORE is a natural, grain free pet food that is protein focused. Wellness CORE Original Recipe dry dog food is a chicken and turkey based protein source diet with potato as a carbohydrate source; canola oil and salmon oil for fat sources; and some tomato pomace for added dietary fiber. Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe dry dog food is a fish based protein diet with potato as the carbohydrate source; canola oil for a fat source, and a mix of pea fiber and tomato pomace as a source of dietary fiber. Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish, & Herring Recipe is a canned food that is fish protein based, with some sweet potato and flax, fruits and vegetables; and canola and salmon oil added.

Wellness CORE Original and Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe are both about 430 kilocalories per cup; Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Recipe canned dog food is about 220 calories per 6 ounce can.

Assume you are currently feeding about 5 cups per day of Wellness CORE Original (2.5 cups in the morning and 2.5 cup in the evening); about 2100 kcal of energy per day; and you want to bring out more sheen in the coat. Some changes you may try:

Plan #1:

– Morning feeding- 2 cups Wellness CORE Original dry dog food and 1x 6 ounce can of Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Recipe canned dog food.

– Repeat same as above for afternoon feeding.

Plan #2:

– Replace half the volume (cups) of Wellness CORE Original dry dog food you are currently offering daily with an equal volume of Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe dry dog food for dogs at each meal. That is 1.25 cups of each brand of dry food in the morning and 1.25 cups of each dry food in the evening. A total of 5 cups per day.

In both plan #1 and #2; we are manipulating the amounts and/or ratios of the fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 3) in the total daily diet for the dog. Monitor in a diary the results you see in skin condition, body weight, and stool volume and consistency.