New Years Resolutions for Your Pet Part 1- Focus on Diet

January 2, 2011

Photo of Cardiff Happy New Year CNN

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2011? This year, I am going to do more yoga, be more patient with others, and show utmost appreciation for my dog, Cardiff, having recovered from Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (see I Am So Thankful for the Health of My Dog).

As a veterinarian, my professional role is to create personalized health plans for my patients. Each plan strives to improve a pet’s overall health to reduce emergence of illness and sustain a good quality of life. As my animal patients are incapable of making such complex choices for themselves, educating my clients to make healthful decisions for their pet is of the utmost importance.

This year, make realistic New Year’s resolutions for yourself and commit to the following three part lifestyle modification plan for your pet.

Part 1- Focus on Diet
This year, make a commitment to feeding your pet in a manner that promotes weight loss or maintenance of a health body weight.

Obesity is clear epidemic in both people and pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) , an estimated 51% of dogs and cats (approximately 89 million pets) in the United States are overweight or obese.
Unfortunately, the excessive body weight status of our pets is directly our fault! We feed our pets too much, make less than ideal choices for them, and generally provide inadequate activity necessary to maintain an ideal body condition.

Talk to your veterinarian about you pet’s current weight and body condition score (BCS). In my clinical practice, I use the BCS scale of 1-9, with 1 being extremely thin and 9 being extremely fat. The ideal BCS is 5. Pets with a BCS over 5, yet less than 7, are considered overweight. A BCS greater than 7 classifies a pet as obese.

Ask your veterinarian to create dietary guidelines tailored to your pet’s energetic needs to promote improvements in BCS. My general suggestions for paunchy pets are to decrease portion size (by 25-33%), increase frequency of feeding (three to four smaller portions per 24 hrs), and reduce consumption of highly processed dry pet food by incorporating moisture, fiber, and nutrient filled whole foods.

Part Two- Commit to Daily Exercise to be posted on Wednesday, January 5, 2011.

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Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana Rade January 2, 2011 at 10:08 PM

It is really horrible, isn’t it? The pet obesity. Maybe if it really sunk in that thin pet is a healthy pet … perhaps that would help.

We are having no weight issues with J.D. he is fit as a fiddle. Interestingly, with Jasmine we do. She is on reduced calorie reduced portion diet and we are barely keeping the weight where it should be. She does get plenty of exercise. That also makes me think that the thyroid hormone isn’t where it should be.

Patrick Mahaney January 3, 2011 at 4:06 PM

You are so right about pet obesity being horrible. It is akin to child obesity, which is the fault of the parents (and maybe in part to society….another conversation in itself).
From the photos you have shared, Jasmine has always appeared healthy in terms body condition score. Good job!
If she is in the trend of getting heavier despite calorie control and exercise, perhaps her Thyroid Hormone level (via supplement) is lower than it could be.
Keep me up to date as to any blood test or changes in her medication dosing as to its effect on her body condition.
Thank you for your comment!
Dr. PM

Jana Rade January 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Dear Dr. PM

Yes, we are managing to keep her at what is considered optimal, but considering her orthopedic issues we would like to see her a bit thinner than that and have not been able to accomplish that.

We are keeping her in a good place but I don’t believe it should be as hard as it has been. Isn’t hard with J.D.

She had her blood drawn for the thyroid testing today, so awaiting results.

Patrick Mahaney January 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Although I am not the biggest fan of dry food (exlusive) diets, I do really like JD due to the omega 3 fatty acid level creating an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints.
I hope we get good news on her thyroid levels!

Jana Rade January 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Jasmine gets omega 3 fatty acids for that. Regardless of how I might feel about the prescription diets she wouldn’t touch it 🙂

Carol Bryant January 5, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I am so glad you posted this, Patrick. I lost 40 pounds gaining 25 with my last dog and walk-walk-walk. Even in the cold, bundle up and trek on out I say. 😉

Patrick Mahaney January 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM

Thank you for your comment.
Forget Nia Vardalos! You are the real life example of success. Excellent job. Your motivation to stay active will benefit both you and your dog!
Stay warm and keep your dog’s paws off of that nasty rock salt. Dr. PM

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