Theme Of The Day: Fat Dogs

The theme for today? Fat dogs.  Again.

It’s not even 9 AM yet and I’ve already seen two.

We found Jasmine to be overweight at her visit last year and set a goal weight of twenty pounds. She weighed in at 30.7# today.

Jasmine’s weight difficulty stems from a common husbandry practice I call “smorgasbord feeding.” She is “fed once a day” but when her food is dispensed in the morning it stays down all day, so she gets to “graze” all day.

Two things happen under these conditions:

  1. pets tend to eat more than when they eat on a meal schedule.
  2. the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract is increased by eating small amounts through the day, so more calories are absorbed than when eating meals.

The fix? We will allow Jasmine to eat two meals per day. We will have her owners measure her food allowance carefully and feed half of the allowance each morning, half each evening. She will have access to her food for only fifteen minutes each time. If she has eaten it all or if she has eaten none, the food will be picked up and saved for the next meal. Still, next time she gets no more than half of her daily allowance each time, not the evening meal plus the morning’s leftovers!

Peanut suffers from a similar problem, complicated by another pet in the household. Peanut’s housemate, Bear, is a self-regulator. Bear is 15 ½ years old, but has never been overweight. So when their owner puts the food down in the morning Bear and Peanut dive in. Bear eats what he wants, then leaves. Peanut moves in and cleans up Bear’s leftover food after devouring his own portion.

The fix? We will measure both dogs’ food carefully, then put them in separate rooms for their fifteen minute mealtime. At the end of fifteen minutes both bowls are picked up and no more food is allowed until the next mealtime.

Both Peanut and Jasmine will be eating Hill’s Pet Foods’ Prescription Diet r/d, a diet that is a 50% reduction in calories while providing all major and micronutrients and a high fiber content that gives pets a good, full feeling.

Within six months they should both be at their goal weights. Monthly weigh-ins at our hospital help them to maintain focus and celebrate their success.

Cats are not immune to obesity and suffer  health problems similar to those of obese dogs.

See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.

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