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Help Pets Lose Weight

The veterinarian who looks after Martha's pets, Dr. Marty Goldstein, explains how to prevent your pet from being overweight.
The Martha Stewart Show, April 2007

About 35 percent of the total pet population is overweight or obese, and it takes just a few pounds of extra weight for an animal to fall into the overweight category. Five extra pounds on a dog the size of a beagle is equal to nearly 25 pounds on an average woman, and four extra pounds on an average-size cat is equivalent to nearly 45 pounds on an average woman. This extra weight can lead to all sorts of health problems, so Dr. Marty Goldstein shares the following advice to keep your pets healthy.

It's simple to determine if your pet needs to lose some weight. You should be able to feel the backbone and palpate the ribs in an animal of healthy weight. If you can't feel the ribs without pressing, there's too much fat. Also, you should see a noticeable "waist" between the back of the rib cage and the hips when looking at your pet from above. From the side, there should be a "tuck" in the tummy -- the abdomen should go up from the bottom of the rib cage to inside the thighs.

Contributing Factors to Overweight Pets
Diet
Regulate your pet's diet. The order of ingredients on a nutrition label is so important, because whatever is listed first is the most prominent ingredient. The serving size your pet should get might be far different from the recommended amount on the bag or can.

Above all, limit treats. Many people question whether wet food is better than dry food. It generally takes more processing of the food to get it into a bag than into a can. Processing destroys the vitamins, enzymes, and natural integrity of the food, and it makes it less whole, so generally wet food is healthier.

Metabolic Deficiency
Metabolic deficiency can be treated with fat-burning enzymes called L-carnitine and chromium picolinate, both of which can be found at health food stores. They work well and are all-natural. Before giving your pet any sort of supplement or medicinal remedy, consult your veterinarian.

Exercise
The best exercise for a dog is jogging with him or having him retrieve a stick or ball. At least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day is recommended. For cats, increase play and encourage movement around the house.

Comments (5)

  • MouseC 2 Apr, 2009

    After talking with our vet, we started a two sided weight loss plan for our cat. We switched her to a higher protein/lower carb diet (It seems cats need protein to feel full) that is portion controlled with an automatic feeder. We also got a kitten. The kitten motivates the older cat to move and play even more. They go running around the house and play together now while we're sleeping at nite. Just make sure the bigger cat doesn't eat the kitten food (high in calories).

  • anole 1 Apr, 2009

    I was feeding my 2 year old cat Science Diet Light because she was overweight. She seemed to be getting fatter so I talked to the Pet Store and they told me not to feed her the Light foods because they contained too many carbohydrates. I bought her Science Diet Indoor Adult and she is now a perfect weight - her bloated belly is gone after 2 weeks. The Indoor Adult has more protein with fewer carbs and calories. Cats don't need carbs.

  • chezlou 1 Apr, 2009

    I wonder what the suggestions are for a 35 lb. cat! He would do the death roll on a kitty treadmill. He is beautiful but a monster!

  • oswissmiss 1 Apr, 2009

    Wow!!!!!!! that ill help me pet

  • valerieimitchell 1 Apr, 2009

    My dog is diabetic so her diet is restricted. Our vet recommended that I not only cut down the amount of food but suppliment it with cooked green beans. The green beans are added fiber and give her a "full" feeling for longer. I also give her a tablespoon of fat-free, organic yogurt with each meal. This is to keep the bacteria in her digestive track normal. She is fed twice a day when she gets her insulin shots. She also takes a multi-vitamin in the AM. Treats are dried chicken or duck tenders.