Thursday, April 1, 2010

Question: My dog is becoming overweight!

Dr. Schaeberle,

Over the past few months I have noticed my dog has gained quite a few pounds. What can I do to help him lose weight?



Dear Paul,

Unfortunately, dogs and cats have experienced an increase in obesity in the United States recently. Today I will focus on dogs, next week hypothyroidism and in a few weeks cat obesity.

Our dog population in general is larger today versus 30 years ago. Popular breeds such as laborador and golden retrievers are also more prone to diseases like hypothyroidism, when the thyroid gland causes weight gain, and quite simply are more laid-back and using less calories than earlier generations of these breeds.

So what do you do if your dog is overweight?

First, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to begin a conversation about your pet’s weight gain. Your veterinarian may perform bloodwork to rule out any potential disease that could cause changes in your pet’s weight.

Your veterinarian may recommend the following:

1. First trying to simply cut back on treats. Place the dog on a “light” food and increase exercise. Did you know that one large milk bone has about 270 calories! Substitute a rawhide strip, or something as simple as a Stauffer’s Animal Cracker which is about 14 to 16 calories per cracker. You can also see if your dog likes vegetables such as carrots, celery, or green beans and use them as treats instead.

2. Utilize a high fiber diet under the discretion of a veterinarian. In our clinic we prescribe Hill’s Prescription R/D which has about 40% less calories and seems to satisfy most dogs. Our plan includes a biweekly weigh-in and if there is no weight loss we will cut back on the quantity of food offered.

3. A good option for the truly obese dog, or for a dog who is having great difficulty losing weight, is a drug by Pfizer called Slentrol. We have had incredible success with most dogs losing 5% or more of their body weight per month with little to no side effects.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

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