VETgirl Q1 2022 Beat e-Magazine

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4. DON’T RECREATE THE WHEEL. (USE RESOURCES TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER!) The website provides comprehensive information on pet nutrition. Offered through the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, it’s a straightforward, accessible resource that’s great to recommend to clients to help them get their pets on a healthier track. And, while the 2014 AAHA Weight Management Guidelines include helpful step- by-step tips and troubleshooting weight loss plans, the recent 2021 AAHA Nutritional and Weight Management Guidelines provide even more helpful resources and also include information on performing a full nutritional assessment on patients.

In one case, there were three adolescent girls in the home who each thought the family Labrador was her dog. Because the family didn’t track who was feeding him, the dog was getting three times the amount of food he needed. I recommended a food box allowance, in which every bit of the primary diet, plus snacks, for one day goes into a box. When the box was empty, the dog was done eating for the day. We also got the girls engaged in making feeding fun. One strategy was to put the allotted food in a muffin tin instead of a food bowl and cover each opening with a tennis ball. This transformed feeding into a game where the dog had to figure out where the food was. Preserving the human-animal bond is critical, so I make sure to ask clients about non-negotiable factors. In other words, what things will they continue to do even if I recommend they stop? I also remind clients that even items like rawhide chews contain a significant amount of calories, and to remember to include the peanut butter or cheese in which they hide their pet’s medication as part of the pet’s daily calorie allotment. However, we can get creative. For example, once I understand a family’s reason to provide a rawhide chew is to distract their pet during dinner, I can easily make a recommendation to take some of the daily kibble, mix it with water, place it into a rubber ball and freeze it for a fun, time-consuming toy that wouldn’t add to the treat allowance for that pet. 3. HELP CLIENTS KEEP PETS AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT. After successful weight loss using a therapeutic diet, I have to determine if the patient still needs a food that is nutrient-dense and calorie-restricted or can switch back to the previous diet or another over-the-counter diet. A significant drawback of switching from a therapeutic weight management diet is that the pet will need to eat a smaller portion of food (which owners do not like) to avoid calorie creep and weight gain. Also, if pets still need calorie restriction to maintain an ideal weight, they could be at risk for nutrient deficiencies if they are fed small amounts of a maintenance food. In those cases, the pet should stay on a therapeutic weight management diet to be safe. Achieving successful weight loss and weight management for dogs and cats often isn’t easy but it is extremely rewarding. Working with owners who are committed to helping their pets live healthier, happier lives is a great experience for the veterinary team. Meanwhile, don’t write off owners who may be reluctant to put their pet on a weight-loss program. Emphasizing the health and lifestyle benefits weight loss can bring—and being patient—can help these owners switch course. You may even see some owners start to engage in those healthier behaviors along with their pets.


* Research was funded by Nestlé Purina PetCare through a Nestlé Purina Veterinary Student Summer Research Fellowship.

References: 1.

Wang Y, Beydoun MA, Min J, Xue H, Kaminsky LA, Cheskin LJ. Has the prevalence of overweight, obesity and central obesity levelled off in the United States? Trends, patterns, disparities, and future projections for the obesity epidemic. Int J Epidemiol. (2020) 49:810–23. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyz273 2. und EM, Armstrong PJ, Kirk CA, Klausner JS. Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult dogs from private US veterinary practices. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. (2006) 4:177–86. Available online at: http:// 3. Sapowicz SA, Linder DE, Freeman LM. Body condition scores and evaluation of feeding habits of dogs and cats at a low cost veterinary clinic and a general practice. SciWorld J. (2016) 2016:1901679. doi: 10.1155/2016/1901679 4. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2018 Pet Obesity Survey Results. Accessed February 22, 2022. 5. Nijland ML, Stam F, Seidell JC. Overweight in dogs, but not in cats, is related to overweight in their owners. Public Health Nutr. (2010) 13:102–6. doi: 10.1017/S136898000999022X 6. Linder DE, Santiago S, Halbreich ED (2021). Is There a Correlation Between Dog Obesity and Human Obesity? Preliminary Findings of Overweight Status Among Dog Owners and Their Dogs. Front. Vet. Sci. 8:654617. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.654617 7. Hanford R, Linder DE. Impact of Obesity on Quality of Life and Owner’s Perception of Weight Loss Programs in Cats. Vet. Sci. 2021, 8, 32.


That’s the question you can ask clients when discussing their feeding habits. The Purina ® Life Span Study showed that feeding to an ideal body condition over a lifetime can significantly extend a dog’s healthy years—by an average of 1.8 years for dogs in this study.

Purina ® Pro Plan ® Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management ® formulas are available in a variety of options to help with long-term compliance.

1-800-222-8387 (8:00 AM - 4:30 PM CST M-F) | Talk to your Purina Veterinary Consultant FIND THE LIFE SPAN STUDY AND OTHER RESOURCES AT PURINAPROPLANVETS.COM.

Purina trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.


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