Introduction to Obesity
I'm not a great expert on this subject, but when it comes to obesity; "I know it when I see it"
Fat dogs and cats live about one and one half years less than normal weight pets on average.
They not only don't live as long ... but while they are alive they are much more likely to be uncomfortable and have more arthritis, more heart disease, more diabetes, more pancreatitis, more fatty tumors and more fatal transitional cell cancers.
Fairly new medical information indicates that obesity IS A DISEASE ... not just a lack of self discipline (in humans) or over feeding in pets.
"Old school" (and still accurate) causes of obesity:
-Underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushings disease are associated with weight gain
-Certain medical therapies to include barbiturates, insulin, and especially steroids are associated with weight gain
-Spaying and neutering reduces caloric requirements by about 25%. The recommended feeding guides on the bags of pets foods don't take this into account.
-Too little exercise and too many calories. By far, the main cause of obesity.
-Once the number of fat cells in the body are increased they can become smaller with diet and exercise but they never go away unless surgically removed.
New factors causing obesity:
Once fat cells multiply in size and numbers they become active producers of enzymes and hormones. 12 different enzymes and hormones have been identified so far.
This is important new information and the implication is that body fat... at least in over- weight people and pets IS THE LARGEST ENDOCRINE ORGAN IN THE BODY
Unfortunately, the hormones and enzymes produced by active adipose tissue tend to do unpleasant things like cause inflammation throughout the body, and it causes increased release of fatty acids, glycerol and fatty deposits in the liver, pancreas, and muscles.
Further, these hormones retard the burning (or hydrolysis) of fat ... making it more difficult to lose weight.
Most important new finding; obese animals (and people) don't respond to Leptin normally. Leptin is a hormone produced by the intestinal cells that tells the brain you're no longer hungry.
Does this new information make any difference in what we recommend?
Well, it helps explain why it's so difficult to lose weight.
And with a little luck, further research will lead to medications that help reverse the proliferation of fat cells.
Pfizer was the first to market a medication deemed safe and effective by the FDA (for dogs only) but have recently stopped selling this new drug (Slentrol), apparently for commercial reasons (lack of sales).
FoxNest Recommendations for Pets needing to loose weight:
Blood work: It's important to rule out underlying medical problems such as diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis, chronic infection, and thyroid disease. it's also important to get a base line of liver enzymes because an elevation of liver enzymes is the main potential problem (not a common problem) in using the new weight loss medication.
Hills R/D diet for cats or dogs
Prescription Diet® r/d® Feline cat food was created especially for the management of
cats that are overweight or obese which can lead to heart disease,
arthritis, and diabetes.
Prescription Diet® r/d® is a low calorie, high fiber nutritional therapy with the highest levels of L-carnitine to effectively reduce weight and increase lean muscle mass while helping cats
Lysine added to this diet may aid in the metabolism of fat
I recommend this diet for fat cats and dogs because they seem to like it better than most super low calorie diets and it works given time and patience. Most pets lose at least 10-12% of their weight over a year. Increase stool volume is the only negative.
In addition to using R/D diet, we also recommend switching to low calorie treats and increasing exercise.
Be Aware: there are many light and low calorie diets on the market... that are mainly marketing gimmicks; most are only slightly reduced in calories per cup and not scientifically designed for weight loss
Hills M/D diet for cats & dogs
M/D diet is a high protein, low carb diet based on the Atkins Diet and has proved fairly successful in both dogs and cats. There is usually significant weight loss in about 6 months.... assuming your pet isn't getting too many additional treats. I'm becoming more and more impressed with this diet for weight loss.
Supplements We Recommend To Help with Weight Loss
Lean Treats: A low calorie healthy treat made from skinless chicken and chicken livers
Hill's T/D Tarter Control Diet: This diet is designed for helping to remove tarter from teeth but it also makes a great, low calorie treat since dogs like this diet so much. Come in for a free sample.
Foods that are good as treats for dogs and cats on diets:
rice cakes, melon, green pepper, green beans, carrots, cheerios, canned pumpkin, and non buttered popcorn.
Prozac like drugs: Some vets are recommending medications that help break compulsive eating habits in some of their patients. I think they are quite helpful in many cases ... but only when combined with the most effective weight loss diets and exercise.