Pet Weight Management Plans for Cats and Dogs
Choosing the right weight management plan for your pet begins here.
It's essential to keep track of your pet's diet - whether they're underweight or overweight. The first step is determining what the best solution for your pet will be is to see where her or his weight falls in the chart below:
Weight management plan for your pet if your cat or dog is underweight:
Does your pet appear moderately to severely malnourished? The first instinct for many pet parents is to begin to overfeed an animal who appears hungry. Pet parents, this is a huge NO-NO! When an animal hasn't eaten in several days, it's stomach is more vulnerable to being stretched and could rupture.
To get your pet to a healthy weight (see chart above for reference) will require a significant amount of protein, fat, and a well-monitored diet. To fully recover, an underweight pet needs to have the right concoction of nutritional components in their meals. Keep reading to find out what the right weight management plan is for your pet.
So, what exactly causes an animal to be malnourished? Malnourishment is a condition that stems from an animal lacking proper nutrition; Particularly magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. We see this often in animals who've been on the street for a while, fending for themselves. However, keep in mind that there are also a handful of medical issues associated with abnormal weight loss.
According to Banfield Pet Hospital, weight loss can fall under one of these two categories: your pet is not eating, and your pet is eating but is continuing to lose weight. Please note that if your dog suddenly stops eating, this may be the first indication that something is wrong. It's best to contact your vet.
If your pet loses interest in the food they may be experiencing:
- tooth and gum disease
- underlying medical issues, i.e., kidney disease, diabetes, infection or heart disease
- difficulty eating food
- injury to the mouth
- your pet doesn't like the food
If your pet continues to eat but is still losing weight:
- intestinal parasites
- hormonal imbalance
- malabsorption (difficulty absorbing nutrients from food)
- maldigestion (trouble breaking down food)
- severe heart disease
- chronic infection, cancer
- lack of a complete diet (not enough nutrition in the diet currently being fed)
- not feeding enough food
As a general rule, an average indoor cat should have 20 calories per pound; outdoor cats should have 35 calories per pound to maintain a healthy weight.
For dogs, it gets a bit tricky since they range from tiny to large breeds. On average, to maintain a healthy weight, small dogs should have 32 calories per pound, medium size dogs 24 calories per pound, and large dogs should have 21 calories per pound a day.
To put it into perspective, a larger dog with around 50lbs calorie intake per day should be around 1,200. If you know your pet isn't reaching the standard calorie intake, it's time to try one of these tricks.
A weight management plan for your pet if they're underweight:
Try leaving a bowl of food out always, or feeding multiple servings a day instead of just one. If you don't see a difference in your pet's appearance or eating habits, you should seek out your vet for help.
If you’re concerned your pet’s weight and eating habits have changed suddenly, you may want to check your cat insurance or dog insurance for illness coverage, then make an appointment to see your vet for a checkup.
If your cat or dog seems overweight:
Sharing food in many cultures is attributed to a loving gesture; this is especially true in America. We show our love by giving them treats and sharing our snacks. Yet, there is such a thing as spoiling a pet too much, and it will put them in harm's way.
Just like humans, being overweight can make your pet vulnerable to many health issues. These can range from internal organ illnesses to joint problems.
According to Banfield's Applied Research and Knowledge Team, in the past five years, diagnosis of obesity has increased by 30% in dogs and 111% in cats.* This severe condition among pets is often caused by a combination of overfeeding and a lack of exercise. If these stats aren't alarming enough, be sure to check out the risks of overfeeding your pet(s) below.
The risks of not finding a weight management plan for your pet if they're overweight:
- Exercise intolerance decreased stamina
- Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
- Heat intolerance
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Liver disease or dysfunction
- Osteoarthritis (lameness)
- Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)
Mentioned above, the first step to get your pet back on track to a healthy weight is to determine your pet's ideal body weight.
According to puppytoob.com, below are popular dog breeds prone to Obesity:
While the most apparent factors leading to obesity are diet and lack of exercise, there are other reasons why a dog or cat might become overweight, such as:
- Hyperadrenocorticism (Crushing's Disease)
What to feed overweight pets:
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight gives them the best chance at living a healthy, longer life. Talk to your veterinarian today about your pet's weight. Make sure you're keeping up with their routine vet visits to make sure your pet is also healthy below the surface. Is your furry companion protected with pet insurance? If so, hats off to you! If not, check out your free quote today.