This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about weight loss for a Manx and switching to Senior Dog Food.
Q: My Manx has gained 2 lbs and I want to get her back to a healthy weight. I have been feeding her 1/2 cup of Wellness® Healthy Weight Recipe Cat Food per day. She is 11 years old and has not lost any weight just yet since switching from Wellness CORE. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her lose weight?
A: The first step in any weight control program is to accurately measure body weight and estimate a body condition score. Get a pediatric or small animal scale that you feel comfortable weighing the cat on at home; or visit your vet. Also, assign a body condition score to the cat. To find out how to do a body condition score, visit www.acvn.org and click on Statements and Endorsements– and then on AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines.
You did not mention the body weight of the cat—so let us assume that your cat is 12 pounds and your goal is to get to an optimal weight of 10 pounds. At 10 pounds, the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is about 215 kcal per day; for weight loss you want to offer 70% of this or 150 kcal per day. This translates to about 1/3 cup of Wellness Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe Dry Cat Food per day. Try to spread it out over at least 2 meals during the day. This is a small amount of food — only about 42 grams, so expect to see hunger behavior.
Increase the cat’s activity as much as possible and weigh the cat on Tuesdays and Saturdays of each week. Record the weight in a notebook with daily feeding information. Remember cats should lose no more than about 1% of their body weight per week. Modify the amount fed when the desired weight is achieved.
Q: I have an 11 year old Shih-Tzu and I’m thinking that I should begin using the Wellness Super5Mix® Just for Seniors Recipe Dry Dog Food. Would this be correct or should I be looking for physical cues before switching her purely based on age?
A: Just like humans; dogs and cats require special care as they grow older. Mature adult body size is a good indicator of longevity in dogs. Small breeds of dogs such as the Shih-Tzu, tend to mature quickly (about 9 months of age) and become seniors in their mid to late teens. On the other hand, large breeds like Great Danes , mature more slowly ( 15 -20 months) and become seniors by about 7 years. For this reason, small breed dogs generally have longer longevity than large breed dogs.
The first step in setting up a geriatric program for your aging dog is to schedule a senior wellness visit at your local veterinary clinic. Make sure there is no disease or other condition which imposes specific dietary guidelines; and that the veterinarian does not recommend any type of special nutrient restrictions or enhancements.
In your healthy aging Shih-Tzu, I recommend feeding Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe Dry Dog Food for now. I am in favor of the enhanced level of dietary protein and omega -3 fatty acids for the long silky coat. Note the omega 3 fatty acid contributing ingredients like salmon meal, salmon oil, menhaden fish meal and flaxseed found in this Wellness recipe.
Continue to monitor the senior dog’s body weight, drinking and urination behaviors, total food intake per day, stool quality, activity and skin and coat condition. At some point you and your vet may consider feeding a traditional senior dog food like Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors, which has less protein and fat – and increased fiber to support weight maintenance. Both Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors and Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe dry dog food have added glucosamine HCl and chondroitin sulfate to aid in hip and joint health.