Is My Pet Fat?

The most common pet nutritional problem is Obesity. 1/3 of all the dogs and cats seen in a veterinary practice are obese. So what is obesity exactly? Obesity is defined as a body weight in excess of 15% over the desired or ideal weight. Obesity is very dangerous and predisposes pets to many health related problems such as: cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, increased surgical complications (such as a slower response to anesthesia), pancreatitis, joint problems (arthritis) and fatty infiltration of kidneys and liver.

So how do we evaluate if your pet is obese? Most veterinarians use two numbers to evaluate the level of obesity. These are the pet’s current body weight and their body condition score. A body condition score is one that ranks the pets on a 1 to 5 , or 1 to 9 scale. One being extremely underweight and Five or Nine being extremely obese.

So why do our pets fail to lose weight? Well, fatter puppies are cuter right? Also, owners like to give treats and scraps off the table. Also, the owner’s willingness to stick to the diet prescribed by the vet is a key factor in maintaining or losing pet weight. Most of us want a miracle diet that gives you results right away. Diets don’t work like that. For you or your pet to lose a lot of weight in a healthy way, you need to lose it slowly; otherwise you put strain on the organs which have fatty infiltration (excess fat stored in the organs).

So what’s your motivation for getting your pet to

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lose weight? Well, the health of your pet of course! Thinner or leaner pets have an increased longevity (they live longer), a higher quality of life, and they don’t cost as much. If a fat pet needs surgery, they are at a higher risk for complications during the surgery, so their surgeries cost more.

So how do we treat for obesity? The simple fix is “exercise more and eat less.” But how do you determine how much less to eat? Here’s where the math comes in:

Calories in food – calories out (in feces or oxidized through exercise) = calories stored (fat)

How long will it take until your pet reaches their ideal weight? That depends on the owner’s determination to get their pet to lose the weight. If you give up half-way through, then the effort is wasted. There is also a calculation to exactly figure out how many days it takes for your pet to lose weight if the diet is followed completely.

You need to decrease the amount of calories your pet needs to take in to maintain the pet at their IDEAL weight. Feed less than this, and the pet loses weight. Feed more, and the animal will gain weight.

My dog Sadie is a 13-year-old Sheltie who was just under

40 lbs. That is HUGE for a

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Sheltie. Her ideal body weight according to the vet is 30lbs. Right now I’ve calculated her caloric intake to get her to drop 5 lbs. and from there, I will calculate it again to get her down another 5 lbs. It will take time, but she will lose the weight. She has already dropped about 1.5 lbs since I started her new diet a week ago. Have faith; your pet will lose weight if you stick to it.

If anyone would like the full mathematical equations for determining you pet’s ideal weight and how much they should be fed to lose weight, please message me and I will send you a step-by-step on how to do the calculations. My e-mail address is: Please include in the subject line: Pet weight calculations.

It is a lot of steps, but if you care about your pet’s health and want them to live a long and healthy life, it is essential that you control their weight.

When changing your pet’s diet, always consult your veterinarian first. Many veterinarians are not trained in nutrition so they will have doubts about this working. I learned these calculations from my professor who got his DVM and then did his thesis on nutrition and took a couple more years in grad school learning nutrition. It worked on my pet, and it will work on yours too (if you stick to it).

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