Obesity Management overview

  1. Reducing low calorie diet
  2. Exercise program
  3. Psychological and behavioral modification
  4. Drug therapy


1. Reducing Low Calorie diets

Goal:  1.3 – 2.6% weight loss per week until ideal body weight is achieved and then maintains that weight with a weight management diet or regular food if possible.

(Starvation 7%/wk)

Protein – prevents lean body mass loss (muscle/protein). Absorbed  slowly, broken down to amino acids then glucose. Induces little insulin secretion and delays the appearance of hypoglycemia (hunger stimulant). Lower absorption of macro-nutrients when high protein diets are fed vs. high carbohydrate or fat diets.

Micro-nutrients – prevents deficiencies as quantities of food   are restricted (minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids ,etc)                                     

Fiber – provides satiety. Comfort in feeling full by gastric distension and delayed stomach emptying. It also slows the absorption of glucose delaying the onset of hypoglycemia.

An important supplement in weight loss diet                                                      


– Improves nitrogen retention to support lean body mass

– Maintains lean tissue during weight loss

– Possibly enhances fatty acid metabolism and energy availability for protein synthesis

– Double-blinded studies in cats fed moist weight loss diets supplemented with this amino acid showed faster weight loss than placebo

The Major hurdle in any weight loss program


Leads to:       

1. Begging
2. Scavenging for food e.g. raiding garbage cans, possible property damage (shoes, cell phones etc). Associated with hunger or anxiety +/- frustration.                   
3. Excess vocalization by cats
4. Guilty feelings by their humans
5. Decrease of the owner-pet bond (a worry)

Help in avoiding these problems

1.  Feed a reducing diet designed to satisfy hunger and provide satiety –  high in protein and high in fiber in dogs.  Beagle studies showed that with a HP and HF (60g) voluntary meal consumption was significantly reduced vs. other diet types (HPMP,MP-very HF) HPg, vHF 87g, MF 104g ,MP 8635g/1000kcal.           
2.  High in protein and medium fiber in cats

Improve your pet’s life in other ways, besides feeding treats, table scraps and large meals

****** Enrich your pet’s life******

                      ……He/she will love you for it! 


                        Dog Life Enrichment!

Your pet will appreciate you spending more time with it. Customize to your pet’s enjoyment, the list below is not complete.

  1. Longer relaxed walks
  2. Longer walks walking by your side (not in front – you be the leader)
  3. Petting periods
  4. Grooming the fur (even brushing and scaling the teeth can be rewarding when you give your time and attention)
  5. Talking with them (giving your love)
  6. Having play periods (ball tossing, hide and seek, rough housing, tug of war (if controlled and positive))
  7. Play time in off leash parks, socializing with other dogs 
  8. Intermittent or scheduled throughout the day training or reminder sessions. Have fun with it.  Make your dog earn your love and attention by asking it to do things all the time. (Ask him/her to sit, down, stay instead of giving a treat…)
  9. Chew toys provide regular non-nutritious chew toys unlike rawhides (daily or more)

10.Competition events/hunting/breed related events (e.g. husky sledding)

11. Comfortable bedding

**The more your pet loses weight the more it will enjoy exercise.       

                           Cat Life Enrichment!

Your cat will appreciate you spending more time with it, OR with what you provide to enrich it’s life.

You definitely have to customize this to your cats enjoyment and experiment

1.Let your cat be it’s ‘self’. Don’t push yourself on your cat.

2.Don’t tease it   

3.Give it places to perch to look out the window, places to climb (cat trees), places to hide (cat boxes), places to scratch (vertical and horizontal scratch posts)

4.Make litter boxes wonderful: easy to access and not in scary rooms (like the laundry), under potentially falling objects. Uncovered and clumping litter usually best. Ideally 1 on each level of the house (the bigger the better for the cat)

5.Provide access to fresh cold water (clean bowl and changed frequently, tap and tub water, water fountains –entertain, amuse)

6.Provide a quiet, positive environment (with gentle nature or classical music at times…see how your cat responds

7.Pet it, groom it and talk to it in a cheery voice 

8.Slowly, very slowly get your cat used to new things (encouraging it with gentle strokes, soft cheery talk): e.g. examining your cat (ears, paws, and nails) and touching/rubbing the teeth/gums (eventually brushing or scrapping off early plaque). All this stuff can build your cat’s confidence if accomplished and improves the owner-pet bond.

9.Provide a companion??  Some cats will enjoy a companion, but know your cat’s history first. It’s a gamble that could back fire easily. Test your cat’s socialization skills first (even then personalities/scents clash).  Semi-match ages (kitten with kitten). Ideally related animals are best.

10.Let your cat outside?? (But it’s hard to control food access; can get lost or injured and potentially exposed to viral diseases). Ideally buy pet insurance, implant a microchip and update vaccines first.

11. Play with your cat. There are many different cat toys to encourage the human-pet bond. Have selections: fishing line toys, toss balls, string toys etc to satisfy their prey/catch instinct.  Caution: laser pointers (avoid as can be misused (placed on the cat)) and the cat can get frustrated because it never succeeds in catching it and won’t understand where it comes from)

12.Hide food (need to do this gradual, step by step… until she/he gets the idea). This keeps your cat busy ‘hunting/ searching’ for food that’s laid out in restricted quantities.  Changing dish locations can also make the cat search for the food.

13.Leash train. Take your cat for a walk (fear factors may make this difficult). Encouraging words, tone, strokes, and slow investigation by the cat.  Otherwise backyard time (fenced/leash)

***Step by step,   experiment … enrich.

Establish an Exercise Program!


1. Increasing activity promotes fat loss
2. Preserves lean tissue (muscle) during weight loss
3. Builds muscle strength and endurance
4. Positive effects on the mind (life enrichment)
5. Distracts pets that are food focused
6. Improves the pet-owner bond
7. Positive effects on the participating human

Goal:  Encourage as much as possible with the following minimums:
 Cats -30 min+/day (split in several sessions)       
Dogs- 60 min+/day  

* Obese animals may have exercise intolerance initially, but as the weight comes off, their desire and stamina improve.

Dog Exercise Ideas

1.Leash walks increased as much as possible 20-40 min 3+ times daily.  Be purposeful, focused – ideally walk with your dog by your side not in front.   **Activity monitors soon for dogs (e.g. pedometers & accelerometers)

2.More time running with other dogs or chase games twice daily or more.

3.Focused exercise with your dog if possible  ** (easier to do once the weight is off, less for the joints to carry, and the pet has more energy.)

   a. Chase sticks, balls, Frisbees, Hide and seek (toss stick into bush area, dog must find it)
   b. Bicycle, Rollerblade or jog with your dog in the summer
   c. Cross country skiing or jogging with your dog in the winter
   d. Focused exercise for your dog without you – Buy a treadmill- it works very well for energy expenditure. Helps behaviour, mind and body. e.g. ‘Jog-A-Dog treadmill
   e. Swimming or hydrotherapy
   f. Hire a dog walker (ideally many dogs that can run and play off leash)
   g. Feeding toys that the dog has to work/exert energy to get the food out
   h. Joined dogs – attach a more active dog on leash to the fat one (+/-tangles) ***You can add a pack with weights, make it harder and thus burn more energy, but this will be too much for joints if he is high grade obese.

Cat Exercise Ideas

1. Outdoor activities -take your cat for a leash walk (possible if trained). Allow it in a controlled backyard (leash or free).   Or simply let it outside (risk).  Allow it playtime in a toxin free garage or shed to investigate.

2. Play activities with human -fishing rod toys with a mouse on the end or just flicking a bright colored material back and forth, strings, chasing things (some cats will fetch!)

3. Play activities without need for human – motorized toys. catnip toys.

4. Hide food (as before) (need to do this gradual, step by step…. until she/he gets the idea)   Keeps your cat busy ‘hunting/ searching’ for food that’s laid out in restricted quantities.  Changing dish locations can also make the cat search for the food.

5. Cat Feeding Toys – must work/ exert effort to get the food out.

6. Allow your cat to earn its food. Your “treats” are now its food.  You slowly give food during the day for doing something. Cat’s can be trained (e.g.: to even use the toilet)   

7. Encourage normal investigative activity by enriching the home!  E.g. Cat condos and climbing trees

****** Unfortunately cats don’t like the high-energy cardio/ fat burning workouts like dogs often do.  The more interesting the environment the more active they will be. e.g. Cat trees, access to seeing birds (don’t put them in cages please), multi-level homes, window perches at different heights, activity, other pets.