Pet Weight Loss & Diet Optimization Tips

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Crazy to think, but February 2017 is already just around the corner! For those of you who've read our Resolutions blog post, we hope that you've begun to take initiative in not only improving you and your family's health, but also your pet's health as well. You care about your own health, so why would you care about your pet's health any less?

For those of you still lost in the wilderness of resolutions and goal setting, we'd just like to remind you of the progress that can still be made in the next 330+ days. So there is no pressure! To help you build on the foundation you may have started, or have yet to start, we here at Modern Pet Living have decided to give you the most important pet weight loss and pet dieting tips to use as a guide for keeping your pet in good shape and good health. 

 

- Preventing Pet Obesity & Weight Loss -

American pets are fatter than ever as obesity is now at epidemic levels for dogs and cats. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimated that in 2016, 58% of cats and 54% of dogs suffered from obesity or being overweight in the U.S. Together that's over 100 million American cats and dogs

Obese pets are more likely to suffer from debilitating medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune function and even the development of some cancers. But there is good news, obesity is a PREVENTABLE illness and it CAN be cured in most cases for pets! 

Even better, preventing pet obesity is not rocket science. For pets who maintain an ideal body weight, they on average live 15 percent longer and with less disease. The real secret is understanding the ideal body weight your pet should be at.

 

 - The Ideal Pet Body Weight -

Now obviously the body weight of your cat or dog will first depend on the breed. Additional consideration will need to be placed on age and lifestyle (indoor pet vs. outdoor pet). To help pet owners, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) developed a general guide for most dog and cat breeds.

Below is an example of pet weight recommendations in some common breeds. See APOP's webpage for more information on all breeds of cats and dogs.

Cats

Average Domestic Cat: 8-10 Pounds (4 Kg)

Persian: 7-12 Pounds (4.5 Kg)

Siamese: 5-10 Pounds (3 Kg)

Maine Coon:  10-25 Pounds (8 Kg)

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Dogs

Labrador Retriever: 65-80 Pounds (29-36 Kg)

German Shepherd: 75-90 Pounds (34-40 Kg)

Yorkshire Terrier: Less than 7 Pounds (2-3 Kg)

Golden Retriever: 65-75 Pounds (29 -34 kg)

Beagle: 18-30 Pounds (8-13 Kg)

Boxers: 50-70 Pounds (22-32 Kg)

Bulldogs: 40-50 Pounds (18-22 Kg)

Dachshunds Mini: 8-10 Pounds (3-4 Kg) 

Poodles Mini: 11-17 Pounds (5-8 Kg)

Shih Tzus: 8-16 Pounds (3-7 Kg)

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Not sure where your cat or dog fits at on the above weight scale? We recommend APOP's simple "Pet Body Scoring Check", where you can individually assess you pet's standing based on observable metrics.

Healthy Pet Weight:  (1) Ribs are easily felt, (2) Tucked abdomen & no sagging stomach, (3) Visible waist

Over Weight Pet: (1) Difficult to feel ribs under fat, (2) Sagging stomach (Think beer belly in Humans), (3) Broad & flat back, (4) No waist

For more details on this obesity check, checkout the APOP's guides: Cat Body Scoring Check  |  Dog Body Scoring Check

 

- How To Get There -

To find solutions we must attack the underlying problems and causes of pet obesity on an individual level.

1. Prevent Overeating

In our modern era of abundance, it's simply too easy to overfeed our pets with delicious and nutritious foods. From yummy treats to the pet birthday parties with cakes and cookies to eating our leftovers at every meal, pets are suffering from the same problems as people. The only problem is that us owners are the problem! Not only is being a responsible pet owner a key to solving this problem, but pet owners must also understand the exact daily caloric needs of pets. It's also very important to know, because research has proven that dogs consuming a calorie-restricted diet live two years longer than their overfed canine counterparts and are less-likely to suffer from inflammation-related ailments like arthritis.

APOP's daily caloric needs break down like this for the average indoor pet living a mostly sedentary life and fewer than 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity.

Cats

10 pounds (4.5 Kg) weight  =  daily caloric need of 180 to 200 calories

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Dogs

10 pounds (4.5 Kg) weight  =  daily caloric need of 200 to 275 calories

20 pounds (9 Kg) weight  =  daily caloric need of 325 to 400 calories

50 pounds (22 Kg) weight  =  daily caloric need of 700 to 900 calories

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Since there are a ton of caveats to daily caloric need, such factors as pet lifestyle, breed, genetics, activity level and medical condition, pet owners should be conscious of following these guidelines too strictly.

2. Promote An Active Lifestyle

Leading perfectly into the next is the issue of an inactive and slothful pet lifestyle. This point more or less only applies to pets who live mostly indoors. There is no way of disguising it, cats and dogs kept indoors in small apartments or homes are more likely to be overweight than their counterparts who are live completely outdoors or have a mixed lifestyle of indoors and outdoors. So how do indoor pet owners fight this problem? To help curb your indoor pet's weight it is critical to increase their activity level however you can.

With indoor cats, it's very important that owners focus on promoting activity and exploration. Within your living space you should be promoting climbing and perching, especially through toys, furniture and a creatively designed space. An additional component to this is that cat owners initiate a brief within their cats to frequently interact and play with all people and pets in your living space. For cat owners looking to maximize the most of their living space for their indoor cats, Modern Pet Living recommends the Catissa brand of cat lifestyle products.

For all of the canine owners out there the fix is definitely more straightforward. Nothing is more straightforward than a good ol' walk with the dog. A walk is a great way to provide physical activity, mental stimulation and bonding time with your dog. If you're tired of those long walks, than just play around the house or the yard more! There's nothing more a dog wants to do than play sports and other activities. From Frisbee to Tug of War the possibilities are endless for stimulating and energy burning activities that are great for dogs.

3. Improve Your Pet's Food Quality & Overall Diet

We've talked before about the need to really assess the quality of ingredients and food sources in your pet's food. It is so important that we will say it again: A responsible pet owner should ALWAYS know what you are feeding your pet. It is imperative that you study and know what you are feeding them. Read the food labels, research the ingredients and understand their source.

Most, if not all of the mainstream pet products and brands contain poor quality nutritional sources from byproducts of soybeans, wheat, corn, corn meal and corn gluten instead of quality meat, vegetarian or vegan sources of nutrition. Additionally, these products are laden with chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Sodium Mitrate and Propyl Gallate. All of which are known to cause harm to the liver and kidneys in pets and have been linked to cancer.

When compared to alternative diets such as home cooked pet foods or organic and quality based pet food products, these chemically-derived, processed, and feed-grade ingredients seem to be playing a sizable role in the rise of pet obesity, obesity-related health problems and cancer. Although we can’t scientifically say that these processed pet foods and treats will directly make your pet fat or cause them to develop cancer, we can say that a growing consensus of veterinarians and holistic vets are coming out with concerns over these products in regard to the welfare of pets.

While nothing is bulletproof in the prevention of pet health problems like cancer, there are ways to help eliminate or reduce obesity of over weight pets with good dieting and quality pet food. Of course there are other suggestions will depend on the diet itself and the pet's breed, age, lifestyle and genetics. Regardless of all of that, here are some key tips for buying pet food that will apply across all pets.

  1. Buy pet products that are "Human-Grade", or of single-ingredient and identifiable origin, making it easy for you to understand just exactly what you are providing your pets.

  2. Avoid "Feed-Grade" level pet products, which are pet products that may contain unsafe by-products, chemicals, fillers and other low quality ingredients unfit for human consumption (like dying, diseased, disabled or deceased animals).

  3. Try home cooked meals. With the proper knowledge, this suggestion is 100% in-line with tip #1, and it backs a growing trend in a return to this old school manner of pet care. There is such a wide selection of vegetables, fruits and meats available for your pets to eat, it's why we suggest a return to the methods of a simpler time. Please keep in mind, for pet owners who cook homemade food it is critical that their pets also receive supplemental nutrition, vitamins and minerals. This rule is especially true if you are a responsible pet owner who chooses not to use the horrible big brand factory foods which are laden with unnatural chemical supplements and fortifications. Stay tuned for more information on home cooking, as Modern Pet Living will be producing lists of home cooked meals, foods and recipes for your pets.

 

- Stay The Course -

Eating right and being physically active aren’t just a “diet” for your pets — they are keys to a healthy lifestyle and will reduce your pet’s risk of chronic disease and increase their chance for a longer life. We are certain that you will come to understand the key part of having a healthy and happy pet is by providing them with the best pet food products and giving them the right amount of stimulating exercise in a holistic pet lifestyle free of obesity and chronic health issues.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this Modern Pet Living blog post is provided for general best practices only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a pet owner/site visitor and his/her local veterinarian(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the blog, you should seek the advice of a qualified professional.