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Obesity in Dogs

By: Dr. Rebecca Remillard

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Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program. It may be helpful to maintain a log of intake (food and treats) and weight to monitor progress. It might be most effective if one person takes charge of feeding your dog, but all members can help exercise him.

To achieve significant weight loss, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your dog's regular food is rarely, if ever, successful. Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered and minimize treats. If treats are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as a carrot).

Re-check visits are essential every 4 to 6 weeks to monitor the weight loss since adjustments to the feeding plan are often needed. As your dog approaches ideal body weight, caloric intake must be reduced further to maintain weight loss.

Most dogs require an 8 to 12 month weight loss plan to reach their ideal weight. Most dogs do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet's health. Most owners continue feeding the weight loss diet, only at a higher food dose, to maintain their pet's ideal weight.

Specific recommendations depend upon the underlying disease. For obesity due to:

  • Excessive caloric consumption. Once an ideal weight has been achieved, a low calorie food should be continued, treats and snacks should be minimized and the exercise program continued.

  • Diabetes mellitus. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor insulin dose and effectiveness. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

  • Hypothyroidism. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor thyroid dose and effectiveness. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

  • Blood thyroid levels should also be checked regularly particularly if the dog is losing weight.

  • Hyperadrenocorticism. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor medical management. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

    Diet Recommendations

    Prevention
  • Hill's Prescription diet w/d®

    Treatment
  • Eukanuba Glucose-Control®
  • Eukanuba Restricted Calorie®
  • Eukanuba Weight Loss Formula®
  • Hill's Prescription diet r/d®
  • Waltham Calorie Control®
  • Purina CNM OM-FORMULA®
  • IVD Mature® or IVD Hifactor®

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