Identify at-risk patients when battling obesity in companion animals - DVM
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Identify at-risk patients when battling obesity in companion animals
Nutritional management takes awareness, assessment, accurate accounting of pet's caloric intake


DVM InFocus


Often, patients with the most compliant of clients will not lose greater than 0.5 percent of their body weight per week. If the patient is doing well and the client is not impatient, this level of loss should be accepted and further caloric restriction is not necessary.

It must be remembered that there can be a great deal of variation in the energy requirement of a patient. Even with the most accurate diet history and most compliant client, there will be times when the patient's response to the weight loss plan will be poor. An assessment of a patient's response must be made with corresponding adjustments based on the response.

  • Assessment

Since patients may respond to the weight loss plan in unpredictable ways, reassessing the patient's response is vital to any successful plan. Adjustments in the quantity of diet being fed needs to be made based on response.

There is often a temptation to starve the animal to achieve "guaranteed" weight loss, but this is not in the best medical interest of the patient, nor is it likely to lead to long-term successful weight loss and/or compliance.

Weigh-Ins Reweighing patients serves two main functions.

First, it allows adjustments to be made in the weight loss plan based on response. Second, it allows for more frequent success.

Since the majority of patients will not show any visible signs of weight loss for several months, the client may become disenchanted and less resolved to continue. However, if the client can see quantifiable changes in the patient's weight, it can help reinforce his or her commitment to the weight loss plan. It also can serve as a clear indicator to the client whether the restriction is appropriate or not.

Weigh-ins also provide the best method to adjust the level of restriction for a particular patient. Without weigh-ins, weight loss plans are often doomed to failure due to inaccurate initial recommendations.

Commercially Available Therapeutic Diets Designed for Weight Loss Numerous dietary strategies have been employed in the design of therapeutic weight loss diets.

With the exception of a couple of "low carb" canned feline weight loss diets, all diets have a decreased energy density (i.e. kcal per unit volume) compared to most "light" or maintenance diets. Decreased energy density, hopefully, increases satiety by gut fill and also client compliance.

"Low carb" diets may alter the pet's metabolism to increase fat catabolism.


Table 2
Probably the most important formulation difference of weight loss diets is an increase in the essential nutrients per kilocalorie. Ideally, the only nutrient being limited during weight loss would be energy. A patient's requirement for protein, fat, minerals and vitamins does not decrease during weight loss. Thus, limiting intake of essential nutrients would be inappropriate. Therefore, the selection of a weight loss diet is not solely for decreased energy density, potential satiety and/or changes in metabolism, but also for deficiency prevention. A list of available diets designed and marketed for weight loss is found in Table 2.

Feeding Frequency Increasing the frequency of meals may assist with decreasing the problem of begging.

This may be due to a satiety effect or more likely will provide the client with an allowed and accounted for meal during times of begging.

Increasing the frequency of meals may also lead to better compliance because although the volume for any given meal is less, the client feels the pet is fed more due to the increased meal frequency.

Treats Providing clients with treats is important for compliance to weight loss plans.


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Source: DVM InFocus,
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