At the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals, part of our mission is to investigate why weight management is so challenging and how we can make weight loss safer for pets and easier for owners and veterinarians. Drs. Linder and Freeman have surveyed pet diets marketed for weight loss and published the results in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. They found that ‘light’ diets varied tremendously in calorie density, feeding directions, and price (for example, dry canine diets ranged from 217-440 kcal/cup). These results support the notion that having owners simply ‘switch to a light food is unlikely to be successful’ and depending on the current diet, might even lead pets to gain weight.
Maxy, a 2-year-old spayed female Golden Retriever, presents for her first weigh in after starting a weight loss program. Her initial physical exam reveals no abnormalities other than a body condition score of 9/9 (normal muscle condition). Her starting weight is 105 pounds, with an estimated ideal weight of 80 pounds. Her diet history reveals that she was receiving 2000 kcal from her current diet. You start her on 1600 kcal of a therapeutic diet after calculating that this is 80% of her current estimated caloric intake. After two weeks on the veterinary therapeutic diet, the owner is upset that Maxy has gained one-half pound and is now 105.5 lbs. Continue reading
Obesity is one of the most common health problems affecting pets, with up to 59% of dogs and cats being overweight. Body condition scoring (BCS) should be performed on every patient and only be used to assess body fat, while muscle condition scoring should be used to quantify muscle wasting (for example, an obese pet, which would be a BCS 9 on a 9 point scale, could also have severe muscle wasting). Obesity has been associated with numerous diseases, including pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, dermatologic disease, diabetes, certain types of neoplasia, and respiratory tract disease. In addition, one major study showed mild to moderately (BCS 6-7/9) overweight dogs had shorter median lifespans than their leaner counterparts (BCS 4-5/9). Obesity is more easily prevented than treated and the veterinarian plays an important role in educating clients before a pet becomes obese. Continue reading
The Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals focuses on individualized weight loss programs with careful monitoring to help pets become slimmer, happier and healthier. Weight management can be very challenging and time-consuming, especially if patients have comorbidities that require additional nutritional modification. We specialize in weight loss plans for patients that have previously failed on other plans, weight loss plans for pets with special dietary needs, complicated situations including multi-pet or multi-owner households, and above all, personalized care and guidance for owners and veterinarians to help patients achieve and maintain optimal weight. Continue reading