There are many things in veterinary medicine that can be frustrating, one of which is discussing and instructing on achieving weight loss in our pets. To me, this is a simple mathematic equation: Decrease intake and increase exercise. Saying this, I also realize there are other factors: Other people in the household feeding the pet, treats, well meaning neighbors, etc. But we, as pet parents have the ultimate control of what our pets eat, and how much they exercise

Just the other day an Owner came in with their extremely overweight mix breed dog. This particular client was worried about the weight gain, and wanted to know how to get her to lose. As part of our history taking, we evaluate what is being fed, and how much.

A scoop of food, some table scraps, treats, and some dental bones. We then further inquire how much food is in the scoop, and the usual response is “ I don’t know, or about half a bowl full….”

So where do we start? The first step is to find out how much of the actual food is being fed.

I will always recommend going home, measuring out the volume of the scoop into 8 oz cups , so we can determine exactly how many cups of food are being fed. Based on the response, we will then recommend the volume of food that is appropriate for the particular pet.

We also will look at the calories per cup for that particular food, and at the ideal weight of your pet, for caloric needs. THEN we start looking at the extras. Table scraps, added chicken, or gravy to entice, treats, dental chews……the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is, if your pet is overweight, cut back on the amount being fed!

If, after making these adjustments, and increasing exercise, the pet is still not losing weight, we can look towards medical causes of obesity, such as Hypothyroidism.

It is a fact that dogs and cats that maintain a lean body weight will live an average of an additional two years over their overweight counterparts. So let the diets begin!