An Overview of Weight Management

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 88R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

Total Weight Management

Obesity is a common problem in dogs and cats. Identifying the causes and following a total weight management program can result in controlled weight loss and maintenance. A total weight management program includes evaluating the animal, educating the pet owner, modifying behaviors, and tailoring the program to individual situations.

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Definition, Causes, and Contributing Factors To Obesity In Dogs and Cats

Obesity is defined as an increase in body weight, beyond the limitation of skeletal and physical requirements, resulting from an accumulation of excess body fat.

Obesity is caused when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure. This simply means that a dog or cat eats more energy (calories) than it uses and stores the excess energy.

There are many factors that can contribute to obesity:

  • Overfeeding
  • Inactivity
  • Breed
  • Age and Sex
  • Spay/neuter status
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Owner's weight
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Fat, Fiber and Fatty Acids In A Weight Loss Program

Fat
  • Dogs and cats use fat as their primary energy source.
  • A diet based in replacement of some fat with highly digestible carbohydrates is a good low-calorie alternative. Digestible carbohydrates contain less than one-half the calories of equal quantities of fat and do not have the disadvantages of indigestible fiber.
Fiber and Fatty Acids
  • A normal fiber level, provided in a moderately fermentable fiber source, helps create and maintain a healthy gut. This is especially important to the dog or cat on a weight reduction regiment.
  • Some weight loss products for dogs and cats dilute calories with high levels of fiber. High-fiber foods may reduce the digestibility and absorption of many nutrients, including fat. These foods reduce weight by providing what would be considered poor-quality nutrition. These high fiber diets also result in large frequent stools, and decreased skin and coat condition.
  • Diets that provide an adjusted fatty acid profile maintain the pet's healthy skin and coat, despite lowered fat levels.
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Carbohydrates and Special Ingredients in a Weight Loss Program

Carbohydrates and Special Ingredients
  • Feeding a diet that contains the carbohydrates corn, sorghum, and/or barley can result in lower blood sugar and insulin levels as compared to feeding a diet that contains rice as the primary carbohydrate source. Lower blood sugar and insulin levels can also help with maintaining a proper weight.
  • Boosting dietary intake of Vitamin A can help cats maintain a healthy weight.
  • In addition, a diet that contains l-carnitine can help dogs and cats metabolize fat. L-carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that helps burn fat.
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Weight Loss Should Be Gradual

  • The goal of a good weight loss management program should be gradual weight loss. This is especially important in cats, because severe nutrient restriction can result in hepatic lipidosis (abnormal fat accumulation in the liver).
  • Dogs should lose 1 to 2% of their initial weight per week. Cats should lose 1 to 1.5% of their initial weight per week.
  • A good way to begin a weight loss program is to reduce caloric intake by transitioning to a weight control or reduced fat formula. Dogs and cats who do not respond quickly should see their veterinarian for a special weight loss program.
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Conclusion

A total weight management program can lead to successful weight reduction in the obese dog or cat. Complete evaluation by the veterinarian is always recommended, and owner compliance is essential to success.

Iams and professional veterinary products provide optimum nutrition for animals that can benefit from a weight management program

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