This week’s blog was written by Lisa P. Weeth, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
The key to losing weight is simple, a dog needs to burn more calories each day than he/she consumes. For animals that are slightly overweight (less than 15% over their ideal body weight), restricting the amount of their current complete and balanced diet in addition to regular, moderate exercise will promote gradual weight loss, but for dogs that need to lose more than 15% of their body weight, what you feed is as important as how much you feed.
Before starting any weight loss plan, pet owners should first meet with their veterinarian. The dog should have a basic health screening, including a physical examination, screening blood work, and urinalysis. This will help determine how much weight the dog needs to lose and screen for any medical conditions that may be unnoticed.
Obesity in dogs is often the result of excess calories, but can also occur with certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, which needs to be treated medically before starting a weight loss plan.
Additionally, obese dogs suffer from a similar ‘metabolic syndrome’ as people do, and it is important to ensure the dog is free from concurrent diseases, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, or kidney disease, before changing to a higher protein, higher fat diet.
Veterinary Nutritionists agree the optimal rate of weight loss for both dogs and cats is 1-2% of their body weight per week. This helps protect lean body (muscle) mass while preferentially burning fat mass.
Look for Optimal Diets for Weight Loss in Dogs, Part 2 of 2 on the Freshpet blog next week.