Weight management

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Our pets are subject to similar health situations to us humans, that includes being overweight. This is particularly important as many health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, pancreatitis and diabetes are related to being overweight and can be treated by proper diet and regular exercise, so what can you do about your porky pet? To begin with, bring in your much loved pet and use our scales for free! If your pet requires a little dietary attention then we can arrange a appointment with one of our dietary consultants. We can work out what diet is best suited for your pet that you can implement in your home, whether it be a prescription diet or a take home calorie controlled diet. This consultation also attracts no charge, so what have you got to lose but your pets extra pounds! So don’t fall for those puppy dog eyes or insistent meowing because in the long run you will have a healthier and longer living pet that will thank you for it!

The consultation consists of recording the starting weight of your pet and setting a goal weight which we want to achieve. We then analyse what your pet is currently eating, this includes all the treats that are slipped under the table. In order for an effective weight loss regime to work everyone in the household needs to be on board this includes the neighbors who may regularly toss bones over the fence. A specific diet will be worked out according to your pets breed, weight, age and health condition. Every 2 weeks we recommend we weigh your pet and adjust the diet if needed to manage the weight loss successfully.

The following are just some hints in order to get your pet trim, taut and terrific:

  • Ice cubes – Are a great treat, add veggies and a small amount of stock makes them an extra special treat
  • Veggies- carrots and apples go down well
  • Kongs – Are toys you can stuff with calorie controlled goodies and also relieves boredom
  • Kangaroo Tails – Low in fat but great to chew on and wonderful in keeping your pets teeth looking good too
  • Build up your pets exercise gradually so its not too much of a shock for them
  • Cats tend to exercise only when it suits them. You can get them motivated by using the simplest toys, toilet roll holders dangling from a height, scrunched up paper for them to flick around or a laser light or torch shining on a wall tends to be too irresistible and will find even the laziest cat jumping off the couch and bouncing off the wall.

Make an appointment for a FREE weight loss appointment and discuss our pet’s diet  with one of our friendly veterinary nurses.

Obesity in Cats

Is feline obesity a problem?

YES –   obesity, defined as an excess of body weight of 20% or more, is the most common nutritional disease of domestic cats.  Although the frequency varies from one country to the next, we know in some  countries that up to 40% of adult cats are obese!  Despite these alarming figures, very little is known about the detrimental effects of obesity on feline health.  What we do know is that cats that are neutered and live indoors are more likely to be obese.  Similarly, male cats are more likely to be obese.  With respect to the detrimental effects on feline health, obesity in the cat is a known risk factor for both diabetes mellitus, lower urinary tract disease and arthritis.  In humans, obesity causes an increase in morbidity and mortality at all ages and is associated with diabetes mellitus, certain types of cancer, impaired mobility and arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other illnesses.  Recent studies suggest that heart disease might also occur in obese cats!  More work is needed to evaluate this and to determine what other detrimental effects obesity has on cats. 

Finally, obesity in cats is associated with hepatic lipidosis.  This is a severe form of liver failure in cats.  It typically occurs in cats which are obese and have then undergone a brief period of ‘stress’ which causes anorexia.  The ‘stress’ may be as simple as a change of house or a change in diet.  Hepatic lipidosis used to be an almost universally fatal disease in cats.  Fortunately, with improved, aggressive and prolonged therapy about 80% of affected cats can be saved.  However, it is because of the risk for this potentially fatal disease that treatment of feline obesity needs to be done cautiously and always under the care of a veterinary surgeon. 

What specifically causes obesity in cats and how should it be treated?

Many factors work together to cause obesity in cats, and as mentioned earlier not all of them are clearly understood.  Some are probably genetic, while others are clearly related to diet and environment.  Also, as mentioned above, neutering increases the risk for obesity in cats.  It is important for the cat owner and veterinary surgeon to keep all these factors in mind when treating the obese individual.  Prevention is better than treatment but not always easy.  When cats are neutered.  Their food needs are decreased, apparently because metabolism becomes ‘more efficient’.  Also, cats living indoors are more prone to obesity, perhaps because they eat more out of boredom, but also because they have less opportunity to stay trim through exercise.  Remember, everybody should run and play, including cats! 

Once a cat becomes obese, the challenge for owner and vet is to promote weight loss safely and then to maintain the optimum weight.  In the long run it is better to set realistic goals for weight reduction rather than attempting to force the cat down to a “normal” weight.  Usually a 15-20% reduction in weight is a good target that can easily be achieved!  Rapid weight loss should be avoided, since it puts the cat at risk for development of severe liver disease, discussed above.  And weight that is lost slowly is more likely to stay lost!  There are no drugs or magic pills which can be used safely or effectively.  Commercial “low-calorie” diets are available from veterinary surgeons and provide the basis for effective weight loss.  However, they are more effective when combined with additional exercise.  This also has the advantage of providing more time for interaction between the cat and the human, which we know provides enjoyment and is beneficial for the health of both. With some patience and extra care obese cats can be treated safely and effectively, with the ultimate goal of prolonging a healthy happy life!

A cheaper alternative to commercial low calorie diet is a 33% to 50% reduction in food intake.  This should be accompanied by regular weighing of the cat.  If the cat fails to lose weight, then the amount of food should be again reduced by 33-50%.  If weigh-ins are every 1-2 weeks, the cat is invariably safely losing weight within a month.  In cats with access to outdoors it is vital to ensure that the cat does not have access to alternative food sources such as friendly neighbours!

A Lifelearn Product from:.

Arthur Webster & Associates Pty Ltd

P O Box 438,  PYMBLE  NSW  2073  Australia

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