CAT | Nutrition

Dealing with Obesity in Cats

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

obese-cat-istock-000031410062smallFeline obesity is a serious problem that has become more common as cats have become primarily indoor.  When cats are spending more of their time outdoors they have a more active lifestyle with stalking and roaming.  Bringing cats indoors has certainly made them safer as we have taken away the risks from cars and other animals but we have also made them more sedentary.  The typical indoor cat spends their day resting with very little play time or movement around the house.  Combine this lack of activity with readily available food and we have an epidemic of feline obesity.  Feline obesity predisposes a cat to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases.

Keeping an indoor cat an appropriate weight is a challenge.  Starting when they are young we need to set up healthy habits that adjust for their indoor lifestyle. 

The first challenge to address is food.  Very few cats will keep a healthy weight when they have food set out all the time.  This practice is known as “free feeding”.  Most cats must have a measured amount of food each day given in several meals.  I prefer using both dry and canned food so if we need to make adjustments due to disease we  have already had exposure to different food types.  As most cats hit adulthood their calorie needs go down dramatically.  Many of these cats will need a low calorie food to balance their caloric needs.

The second challenge is keeping indoor cats active.  Stimulating activity is helpful not only in keeping cats a healthy weight but also the mental stimulation is good for them.  Starting as kittens, many types of cat toys should be introduced and cycled frequently to keep them interesting.  If you are tying to get an adult cat to play you should start with several types, including feather toys, scratch toys and balls.cattoys2

Adult obese pets are often difficult to entice to play. A great way to get them started are feeding toys.  These help to give the cat the enjoyment they receive from eating over a longer time as well as some physical activity.  These feeding toys come in a wide variety including balls, mazes and others.  I have seen great success when these are implemented.catfoodtoy_

Feline obesity is a very slow problem to resolve.  Even when every measure is taken it will take several years to get an obese cat down to a healthy weight.  Most cats will loose one to two pounds each year with any weight loss plan.  Prevention of feline obesity is the key to treating this disease.

Jill Child DVM

Clinical Suite: Obesity

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Checking in on your pet’s weight

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What is the appropriate amount of food for my pet?


A variety of foods are available for dogs and cats, each having its own instructions based on recipe and ingredients. It is imperative to review each brand and bag for portion recommendations based on formulation. Remember, recommended portions are based on a baseline metabolic rate, and your pet may need a little more or less to schieve or maintain a lean body condition based on the level of his or her daily activities.


How should I begin my pet’s weight-loss regimen?


There are many dietary strategies for obese pets to lose an optimum amount of weight. Regardless of which feeding strategy your veterinarian recommends, remember there is no magic button for weight loss. A thorough diet history (which may involve logging everything that is fed for a week) may assist you as you begin weight-loss planning. Your veterinarian may also calculate a daily calorie target based on your pet’s daily activity. A typical plan involves 20% fewer calories than your pet usually consumes to ensure slow and gradual weight loss.


What will happen if my pet does not lose weight?


In some cases, weight loss is difficult because or hormonal imbalances or major family lifestyle changes that are impossible to fix. If obesity is becoming life threatening and a weight loss program is not working, talk to your veterinarian about pharmaceutical options.


How do I know my pet’s ideal weight?


Although this seems like an easy question, breed variations in dogs and cats can make an estimated body condition score, or BCS, difficult. The best tools are your hands; feel along your pet’s body and make sure you can feel the ribs (with mild fat coverage) and a gradual waist. Refer to a body condition scale for diagrams that illustrate this. The ideal BCS is 4/9 – 5/9, but because every pet is different and can vary in caloric needs, calories may need to be adjusted to achieve an ideal lean weight.


How much exercise should I encourage?


Consult your veterinarian to ensure exercise recommendations are carefully planned before encouraging your pet to exercise. Never encourage exercise if your pet is in pain or has difficulty walking or breathing. Also, note that some breeds should never be forced to overexert. This is even more critical in hot weather.

*Recommended portions are based on baseline metabolic rate, and your pet may need a little more or less to achieve or maintain a lean body condition.


SOURCE: Veterinary Team Brief



Finicky Eaters, Why won’t my dog eat his own food?

Monday, September 16th, 2013





Finicky Eaters

A common complaint we hear all the time, usually involving smaller breeds that we tend to baby because they are so small … and cute. The main contributor to our pets developing a gourmet palate is our need to see them clean their plates. As soon as our little cutie walks away from a dish with food still remaining, it sets off a primal alarm in us that says “there must be something wrong.”  In reality, probably nothing is wrong, it’s just that small dogs don’t need to eat very much to be healthy and happy. Of course, we don’t understand that and our next reaction is to put a different food or non- dog food type treat to get them to eat something, after all, we can’t let the poor puppy starve, can we? Well, it doesn’t take long for the little munchkin to discover that if he holds out long enough, we will provide the gourmet treat that he has learned to love and expect, dare we say, demand.

OK, little monster created … so how do we reverse the mindset and get our lovable pets back to eating an appropriate diet? That is the kicker by the way, because if you so desire, you can cook for your little pooch as long as you are inclined to do so. Many web sites exist with lots of recipes and information regarding the fine art of being gourmet chef to our pampered pets. However, if you’d rather not, then the issue becomes how to get them to return to eating “dog food”.

That will often be a slow process and of course, will require much patience and craftiness. The first thing to know is that any change to the diet must be done slowly, try for a sudden change back to dry kibble or trust me, your little baby will make you pay dearly with plenty of guilt. When you make the switch back, start mixing in a little dog food in a way that makes it almost undetectable. This is where the craftiness comes in and also be aware that little dogs do not need to eat a lot. Sometimes canned dog foods are easier to start with, then once table food has been eliminated, you can start the transition to dry kibble, if that is your goal. Check with us if you have any concerns about your pet eating enough. It is a slow process back and there are no tricks that apply to all pets. Some are more stubborn than others, but almost all come around eventually.

-Dr. Eric Wenke (Town & Country Animal Hospital Veterinarian)

Current Pet Food Recalls

Friday, April 5th, 2013

All pet food recalls are listed with the FDA. Here is a list of those announced so far in 2013.

4/3/13 BRAVO! raw frozen diets for dogs and cats for possible salmonella risk.

3/29/13 Natura Pet Products dry pet food and treats for salmonella.

3/10/13 Premium Edge, Diamond Naturals, and 4health dry cat food for low thiamine (vitamin B1).

3/7/13 Diggin’ Your Dog Strippin’ Chicks pet treats for salmonella.

3/7/13 Steve’s Real Food Turducken Canine Recipe Patties for salmonella.

3/6/13 Jones Natural Chews Co. Woofers Dog Treats for salmonella. Read the rest of this entry »

Deciphering Pet Food Label-ese

Monday, December 6th, 2010

By Ben Williams
Pet food labels contain a lot of information, if you know how to read them.
The Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) has its own set of regulations regarding pet food labels, which many states use. AAFCO labeling guidelines cover aspects such as product naming standards, guaranteed analysis (minimum percentages of protein and fat, and maximum percentages of fiber and moisture), and nutritional adequacy.

Always look for an AAFCO statement on your pet food that says either:
“ABC Dog/Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog/Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.”

Read the rest of this entry »