Pet Obesity

About 2 years ago I adopted a very handsome and fit retired blood donor named Dave from one of our favourite referral facilities — the Central Toronto Veterinary Referral Clinic.

When I brought him in for his annual exam a few weeks ago my co-workers made a few comments about how chubby Dave was getting which I did not take seriously.

“He is a large cat, he's not fat”

“He just has a lot of fur”

When I weighed him during his exam and compared to his previous weight it was undeniable – he had gained an embarrassing amount of weight.

My cat is overweight and it is because of me.

I love my pet and want to provide him with the best quality of life possible. By being the main cause of his obesity I am putting him at risk of a lot of medical conditions I would never wish upon him.

On a weekly basis, I see how real the risks of obesity are in cats.

Diabetes mellitus is one of the more common examples we see at Front Street. There is a deep commitment in terms of time, dedication, and finances to managing a cat with diabetes. Often times I see cats with concurrent urinary tract infections as a result of the diabetes-discomfort is not uncommon. The result of Diabetes on a cat's system is significant and another blog episode on its own.

Arthritis affects over 90% of cats over the age of 12. All of that added weight places more pressure on their little joints and exacerbates the discomfort and can speed up this inevitable chronic painful condition.

The list goes on: urinary problems, heart disease, pancreatitis….

At Front Street Animal Hospital we offer complimentary nutritional consults with one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians. This involves a weigh-in, a discussion about suitable diets for your pet, and setting a target weight and timeline to reach this goal. We also set up a monthly progress appointment to reassess how the weight loss regime is going. We trend your pet's weight at every appointment – feel free to ask us about weight differences over time.

With the help of Amanda, one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians, a weight loss plan was made for Dave.


The facts:

- Weight: 10.4kg

- Body condition score: 4/5 – overweight.

- Diet: Royal Canine Urinary S/O.

This is a diet for the dissolution of urinary crystals, as Dave has a history of urinary crystals.

- Feeding amount: About 1/2 cup twice daily. Sometimes my roommate throws a handful of kibble in the bowl if Dave is being extra vocal when I am working late.

The goal:

- 0.4kg weight loss within a month

A healthy amount of weight loss is 1-2% per week. Amanda plugged Dave's weight into a formula that determines his energy requirements with the goal of weight loss. She was able to work out how many kcal he requires per day and customize this to his diet. This resulted in (strictly) 1/2 cup twice daily.

The plan:

- Respond to Dave's begging behaviour with 10 minutes of playtime

When implementing a weight loss plan, the behaviour of both the pet and the owner must be addressed in order to achieve success. My mistake has been to provide him with more food in response to his begging behavior. This changes now!

- Gradual decrease in feeding amount

- Two scheduled meals per day, no more free feeding.

Plan B

- Gradual 1-week transition to a weight loss diet

Did you know that there are many diets that have dual purposes? If your overweight pet has a health condition that requires a specialized diet we can work with you to find a diet that works for both weight reduction and the health condition. In this case, Amanda suggested a diet for weight loss and urinary crystal dissolution if Dave does not respond to Plan A.

In one study, the main risk factor identified for becoming overweight was body weight at 1 year of age. What this means is that the habits present during the transition between kittenhood and adulthood (3-12 months of age) are critical. Prevention is key.

I will keep you updated on Dave's progress. Wish us luck!

In the meantime, if you have a pet that Dr. Wright, Dr. Szabo or I have diagnosed as overweight please do not delay and set up your complimentary nutritional consult with Amanda, Victoria or Meghan our Registered Veterinary Technicians.

- Dr. Batruch