ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS YOUR CLIENTS MAY ASK ABOUT
MANAGING WEIGHT LOSS IN PETS
1. How do I know if a pet is overweight?
All pets visiting the clinic should be weighed and this weight should be compared to the pet’s
weight on previous visits. A physical assessment of body condition can be done by checking for
excess fat over the ribs, shoulders and hips (dogs) as well as in the inguinal area (cats). From
overhead, a fit pet has an hourglass profile and from the side, the belly is tucked. For purebred
animals, the standard breed weights can be used as guidelines.
2. Are a few extra pounds really that important?
Although 1-2 extra pounds may not sound like a lot of extra weight, for a small animal those extra
pounds may equate to a 10-20 pound excess in a human. The chart below shows some equivalent
weights. A few extra pounds are significant. And a few pounds lost can have significant beneficial
effects for the pet.
Initial body weight 5% 10% 15% 200 lb person 10 lb 20 lb 30 lb 10 lb cat ? lb 1 lb 1 ? lb 15 lb cat ? lb 1 ? lb 2 ? lb 20 lb cat 1 lb 2 lb 3 lb 25 lb dog 1 ? lb 2 ? lb 3 ? lb 50 lb dog 2 ? lb 5 lb 7 ? lb 75 lb dog 3 ? lb 7 ? lb 11 ? lb 100 lb dog 5 lb 10 lb 15 lb
3. Why should I be concerned if my pet is over weight?
An overweight pet is an unhealthy pet. Excess weight increases the risk of several disease
conditions including joint disease and arthritis, heart and respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer
in both dogs and cats, as well as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and hepatic lipidosis in
cats. Being overweight increases the risks of administering anaesthetic and the potential for
surgical complications. An overweight animal has a reduced tolerance for exercise, lowering its
energy requirements. The end result is a vicious circle of additional weight gain and an even
greater intolerance to exercise. Overweight pets are less mobile, less active, groom themselves
less often, and are not as happy as fit pets. An overweight animal has a reduced life expectancy
as compared to a fit animal.
4. Can I just feed less of his/her regular diet?
No. When you feed less of your pet’s regular diet, you are not only reducing the daily intake of
calories, you are also feeding less of all essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins and
minerals. Regular diets are designed to be fed to pets of normal body weight with normal energy
requirements. They are not formulated to provide all essential nutrients within a restricted
calorie content. Symptoms of nutrient deficiency include poor coat condition, muscle wasting and
loss of lean body tissue due to inadequate protein intake, weaker immune system and delayed
recovery from infection, trauma or injury, possible reduction in digestive and absorptive capacity
of the gut and behavioural problems (digging, chewing, garbage raiding, destructive behaviour) due
to hunger and lack of satiety. In cats, inadequate protein intake may also increase the risk of
feline hepatic lipidosis.
5. I’ve tried weight loss diets in the past and they haven’t worked. Why should I bother
Most veterinary weight loss diets prescribed in the past 20 years have contained very high levels of dietary fibre. While these diets provide a greatly reduced calorie content, the added fibre has several negative effects which may reduce the likelihood of their success in managing weight loss. High fibre diets tend to be quite unappealing and may therefore not be well accepted by the pet. This can lead to unwanted behaviour such as garbage raiding, begging and destructive behaviour. High fibre intake results in increased stool volume and frequency of defecation: up to 5 times a day on a high fibre diet. This can lead to dogs breaking their housetraining and can predispose cats to feline lower urinary tract disease. High fibre diets are often associated with poor skin and coat due to poor nutrient availability in these diets. With so many negative features, it’s not difficult to see why pets and owners have not much success in using these diets for weight management.
6. Are ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets all that different from other weight loss diets? Yes. Because the ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets Calorie Control do not contain excess levels of fibre and are balanced to deliver all essential nutrients to the pet. These diets perform quite differently than other weight loss diets. Pets enjoy eating since the diets offer outstanding palatability. The pet feels satisfied, so there’s less likelihood of negative behaviour. Weight loss has been shown to be achieved in a gradual, healthy manner. Clinical studies show that Royal canin’s weight loss protocol works, even in very difficult cases and that the weight lost comes primarily from body fat, while lean muscle tissue is preserved. ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets Calorie Control offers superior nutrient digestibility and availability, which ensures that all nutrient requirements are met and no deficiencies are encountered. Skin and coat are healthy and shiny, and the pet’s vitality, health and demeanor improve, as weight is lost. The negative effects
of high dietary fibre on stool volume and frequency of defecation are not seen with ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets so dogs will not break their housetraining and cats are not at increased risk of developing feline lower urinary tract disease.
7. Do I really need a veterinary diet or can I buy a low calorie or lite diet from a pet store? Lite diets are formulated to meet adult maintenance requirements but deliver fewer calories per cup than the maintenance diet from the same product line. For this reason, there is a lot of
variation in the calorie density of different lite diets. Many “lite” diets contain more calories than regular maintenance diets from another company. In general, premium pet foods are more calorie dense than regular pet foods, and many premium “lite” diets contain more calories than regular pet
food. Diets sold in pet stores are all balanced for and meet the requirements of adult maintenance. The ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets Calorie Control have a much more severe restriction in calories and when fed in adult maintenance trials, these diets induced weight loss. For this reason, these diets don’t carry an adult maintenance claim. They’re balanced to provide all essential nutrients with a calorie intake much below that provided by adult maintenance lite diets.
8. Should I feed canned or dry? How often do I feed my pet?
Canned diets are formulated using high moisture meat ingredients and since the moisture doesn’t contribute calories, canned products are much less calorie dense than dry diets. Canned weight loss diets contain roughly 50-60kcal/100g whereas dry weight loss diets contain about 250-300kcal/100g. Feeding canned diets alone or in combination with dry may help induce weight loss, especially in difficult cases. Clinical trial using ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets Calorie Control
show that weight loss programs using canned products have a higher success rate than those using dry feeding alone.
Feeding twice daily is recommended for two reasons. First, it helps alleviate hunger in the pet. Second, the energy expended digesting a meal can represent up to 10% of the pet’s daily energy expenditure. Feeding several small meals a day increases this daily expenditure and may contribute to faster weight loss in the pet. In all cases, pets need to be carefully portion fed
with the prescribed amount being measured out daily.
9. How long will it take for me to see weight loss? How long will it take to achieve the target weight?
Pets tend to be individuals in the way they lose weight. In most pets fed ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diets Calorie Control, weight loss will begin almost immediately. In more difficult cases, it may take two to three weeks to start seeing results. As well, some animals may start to lose weight immediately, then plateau at a given weight. Sometimes the pet may pass through this period for a few weeks, then start to lose weight again. Other times the pet may stay at that weight for an extended period of time. While the majority will lose pounds gradually and consistently during the weight loss period, not all will do so. In these cases, patience and persistence are required to achieve the desired results. In most cases, dogs will achieve their target weight within 12-14 weeks and cats will achieve their target weights within 18-20 weeks.
10. My pet has been on the program for several weeks and I’m not seeing any weight loss. What should I do?
The first thing to do is verify the pet’s energy intake from all sources. Check that the recommended amount of Calorie Control Diet is being measured out daily and that treats, table scraps, and any canned food mixed into dry are all being taken into account. Then verify that the pet is not consuming food from other sources – from another family pets’ bowl, from the garbage,
from a source outside etc. If the pet is receiving only the recommended amount and has been on this diet for several weeks without losing weight and it has been previously verified that there are no underlying disease conditions contributing to the excess weight, then this pet may have a significantly lower metabolic rate and therefore be candidate for a further reduction in calories. In this case, it is recommended that the animal be fed either canned alone or mixed fed with dry (i.e. not fed dry only), and that the recommended daily calorie intake be reduced gradually in increments of 10%. It is not recommended that the pet’s daily energy intake ever be below 40% of the daily energy required for maintenance at that pet’s target weight.
11. What should I feed my pet once the target weight has been achieved?
Once the target weight has been reached, the pet can generally be maintained at that weight on a maintenance lite diet. Pets with healthy body weight tend to be more active and therefore have higher energy requirements than they do at the beginning of their weight loss program. Some pets however have very low metabolic rates and tend to gain weight even on lite diets. These pets may be fed ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Calorie Control on a long-term basis, provided their body weights are stable and not declining. ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diet Calorie control does provide adequate levels of all essential nutrients for long term maintenance when fed as directed but is not suitable for long term feeding in some animals because of its more severe calorie restriction.