Weight Management Guide
By: Priscilla Martinez
Obesity in our pets has become the most common nutritional disease. Dogs that are overweight can suffer from osteoarthritis, urinary incontinence from affected renal function, decreased respiratory function, excess fat accumulation, and diabetes mellitus if genetically predisposed or from a high carbohydrate diet. Overweight cats are at an increased risk of developing neoplasia, skin disease, oral cavity disease, urinary disease, and diabetes mellitus if genetically predisposed or from a high carbohydrate diet. In other words, obesity decreases the quality of life of our pets.
**Before beginning a weight lost regimen, please discuss it with your vet. Even though most of the diseases associated with pet obesity can be managed on a raw diet, it is better to know if your pet has any medical issues that should be monitored, and could affect the manner in which they are fed.**
A simple understanding of how your pet utilizes its meal is all you need to know to begin the journey. Fat is a source of energy, if the fat in the diet is more than the energy expended, the body will store it, increasing the fat accumulation. Protein fuels the metabolism, provides the necessary nutrients for body function and muscle repair, and preserves lean tissue.
A target weight loss of 1% per week is ideal, but can vary depending on the amount of excess weight in both cats and dogs. In obese pets, a weight loss of more than 6% will provide noticeable health improvements.
In order for a dog, or cat, to lose weight there needs to be an energy deficit. The amount of energy expended must be higher than the source of energy. Reducing the amount of fat they consume and increasing the protein in the diet will cause weight loss. Trim and remove fat that you would normally keep and feed high protein meats. If using treats, deduct them from the daily portion. Dehydrated meat is 1/3 the amount of raw and freeze dried is 1/5 of raw. Alongside a controlled diet, increase exercise.
Although obesity is a common problem, an issue that is overlooked is underweight pets. We can classify these into two groups:
Those that are extremely active and struggle to put weight on and/or maintain it
Those that are simply underweight but do not expend much energy.
If your pet is in group 1, there is a need for more fat in the diet. Increase the amount of fat and high protein meats in the diet to meet the energy requirements of the pet while maintaining lean tissue. Because of their high activity, the body will not have a problem utilizing the fat, and therefore will not store it. A deficit in energy sources will prevent weight gain. Increasing the amount of food might not be necessary in a high energy pet. Watch your pet and adjust accordingly.
If your pet is in group 2, then you are providing the necessary amount of fat but not enough food. Simply increase the amount of food slowly, every week until they have achieved the desired target weight and then stop increasing the food.
If you need help managing a disease with a raw diet during your pet’s journey, or if you simply need a good starting point, allow one of our admins or moderators to help you. We are always happy to help, specially since we will be looking forward to the updates, the Before and After pictures, and the success stories.