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.
Dr. Linder is currently investigating which situations should prompt owners or veterinarians to be concerned over risk of nutrient deficiency when calorically restricting overweight pets. Preliminary in vitro results published in the Veterinary Quarterly journal, suggest that careful consideration of diet selection is warranted in weight loss. More conclusive results are anticipated from a current in vivo investigation being conducted by Dr. Linder.
In the upcoming year, further studies investigating owner perceptions and various weight loss strategies are planned. Some of these studies will have open enrollment and include client incentives. Please be sure to check our clinical trials website for descriptions of current studies and information on how owners can enroll: http://vet.tufts.edu/clinical_trials/.