FAT CAT vs Skinny Cat

By: Jennifer Oldfield

So you’re thinking, what’s the big deal, right?  I mean many of us carry extra weight, it’s just part of life… isn’t it?  As someone who is by no means a skinny cat, it is a big deal.  There are many side effects to carrying access weight that we don’t tend to think about.  As a human it is hard to shed those access pounds, we have to exert our own self-control, which can be so tough with the onslaught of delicious food choices and a busy, often sedentary life style.

cat-eating-food-in-bowlOur cats on the other hand are at our mercy – we control the food.   We can control how much and when they get to eat.  Unfortunately many of us grew up thinking you just pour food in a bowl, walk away and do it again when the bowl gets low or (God forbid) empty!  If you currently feed your cat this way I want you to do a self-test:

  • Measure how much food you tend to pour in the bowl (is it half a cup, a whole cup, two cups?)
  • Pay attention to how long it takes for the bowl to be empty (half a day, a whole day, several days)
  • Now mark down how many pets eat out of that bowl
  • Calculate who ate how much per day
    • Example: there is 2 cups and it takes a day and a half for the bowl to be empty with one cat eating out of it: approx. 1 and 1/3 cup eaten per day

So how did you fair?  Is there more than one animal eating from the bowl?  Did you realize you have no way of knowing who ate how much?  Often when there is more than one eating from the same dish you tend to have a heavy cat and a slim cat.  It is obvious who is getting more, the question is, is the slim one getting enough?

Did you know on average a cat should eat only 1/2 cup (240-250 calories) PER DAY!  If you have discovered that indeed you either don’t know how much your cat is eating or they are definitely eating too much, don’t fret.  One of our Nutrition Consultants will gladly assist you with transitioning to meal feeding and finding the right amount of food for your particular pet.

Now, let’s look at what the extra food, creating the fat, is doing to the body;Fat Kitty

The red arrows indicate two areas of fat pockets (there is more below the pink arrow, however we aren’t as concerned with that for the purpose of this blog).  Notice the compression on the stomach, intestines and colon (plus the other organs above and beside those are hard to even see).  Also note that the fat pockets will also be pushing into the chest cavity compressing the area available for the heart and lungs.

The pink arrow indicates the colon which has an uphill “S” shape making it so that the body has to work harder to move fecal matter out.  This is part of why overweight cats often have issues with constipation.

Looking at this x-ray it may not seem too bad, but let’s compare to a cat that is at a nice lean weight:

Skinny kitty

Notice how the stomach, intestines and colon are able to spread out in the body cavity.  Plus we can see other organs we couldn’t see on the previous x-ray.   The pink arrow here shows the colon again.  This time you can see that it makes almost a direct straight path out causing no extra work or strain to defecate.

Aside from cats, dogs would also have issues with excess fat causing strain on the organs in the body.  For both species fat pushing on the lungs and heart mean that both have to work harder.  Often pets that are overweight have difficulty breathing.  In dogs you notice they pant more.  Think of it is this way: in the heat we often have issues breathing, we find the air heavy on the lungs.  Now imagine not only breathing that heavy air but that your lungs are unable to expand fully.   Breath is more rapid and shallow – you can’t get that nice deep breath.

The good part is that, because as mentioned at the beginning, we control the food, it is easier to work to get your pet to lose weight than it is to do so for ourselves.  There are some fantastic diets available in-clinic that help to increase metabolism of your pet without needing to decrease the amount of food they eat.  There are also other store brands that are reduced in fat and calorie content to help, if not lose weight, at least prevent the further gain of weight.  Plus there are easy ways to increase the activity of your pet to help burn off that access weight.  Yes, even your cat can increase activity at home to loss weight.  See Amaya’s success video.

When deciding to proceed with a weight loss plan, keep in mind loss should be gradual.  Losing weight too quickly for a pet can be detrimental to their health.  Seek guidance from your veterinarian: contact us to make an appointment or to speak to one of our Nutrition Consultants today.

What is your Pet Food Label Telling You? Part 2 of 2

by: Brianna DeVries

In part 1 we discussed the informaion commonly found on the front of the bag and some of the marketing trends some companies use to mislead you.  This post is about the information on the back of the bag.

Protein First and ‘Real’ Chicken

There is no AAFCO definition for ‘real’ chicken. When companies advertise whole chicken as the first ingredient it means the following: The clean combination of flesh and skin with bone, derived from the parts or whole carcass of chicken or a combination there of, exclusive of feathers, heads and feet. May or may not include entrails and includes all its moisture content.

Manufactures advertise that dogs and cats should be fed only animal based protein. Although most animal protein is defined as complete, the digestibility of the protein varies. Plant based proteins (such as gluten) help to round out the animal based protein profile. Dogs’ and cats’ bodies cannot distinguish between animal and plant sourced amino acids – so the source of the protein in terms of animal or plant is insignificant.

Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The protein source (such as chicken) is weighed before it is processed. As chicken is not rendered (a cooking process to remove fat) it has a moisture content of 75% to 85%. Therefore whole chicken has a very low nutrient density when compared to a concentrated chicken meal. Below is a chart to help explain.

Diet A advertises whole chicken as the first ingredient based on 200 kg/ton in the food.

Diet B does not have chicken as the first ingredient, but includes chicken meal (may be 3rd or 4th in the ingredient list) at 180 kg/ton in the food.

table
As you can see Diet A appears to have higher levels of chicken because it is the first ingredient, but this is due to the high moisture content of the chicken ao that it appears higher on the ingredient list. Once that moisture is removed it contributes less to the finished product when compared to chicken meal, which has a low moisture content.  Owners think they are getting a diet with a lot of good protein when in fact they are not getting much at all.  The term “meal” is not a negative.  It simply means ground down and dried.

Now it is time to talk about the three scariest things in pet food, corn, wheat/gluten and by-products! Dun dun dun…….

By-Products

By products could be more accurately termed co-products. They are not the primary product being produced, so they are called by-products. If you are raising chickens for breast meat, once the breasts are removed the entire rest of the chicken is a by-product.

chicken

When people hear by-products they think that it is hair, hooves and feathers. At Royal Canin by-products can include heart, lung, liver, kidney, etc. Materials that are indigestible such as hair, horns, teeth, beaks, hooves and feathers are not included. Please note that by-products used by different companies can vary in quality.

Chicken wings and thighs, summer sausage and liver are all by-products that we eat. Organ meats are more nutrient dense than meat derived from muscle and are the source of important essential nutrients. Hearts for example are a good source of taurine (an amino acid needed by cats), L-carnitine and protein. Connective tissue is a good source of chondroitin, which is good for joints. Chicken meal and chicken by-product meal are identical in digestibility, nutrient profile and have virtually no visible difference. Some food companies use chicken by-product meal instead of chicken meal because there is a growing demand for chicken meat for human consumption. Companies like Royal-Canin want a sustainable protein source that is not going to impact the public. So please do not be scared when you see that there are by-products in your pet’s food.

Corn

Many people believe that corn is just a filler and has no nutritional value. This myth is completely wrong. It is true that when we eat corn on the cob you can clearly see that the outer husk was not digested. This is due to its fibrous nature.  The corn inside the husk however is highly digestible.  When corn is ground up into a meal it becomes even more digestible. It is like when we eat corn tortilla chips. They do not come out whole. Corn is a valuable and nutritious ingredient that provides protein, amino acids, fibre, vitamins, fat and essential fatty acids. Let us take a closer look at the many things corn provides for your pet.

  • Essential fatty acids – the germ is a source of linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acids) which promotes healthy skin and coat.corn
  • Vitamin A – involved in healthy vision and skin regeneration.
  • Vitamin B Complex – enhance immune and nervous system.
  • Essential Amino Acids (such as methionine) – corn gluten is a source of amino acids which are the building blocks for protein in the body. Protein supports muscle mass, growth and immune system function. Methionine is a natural urinary acidifier which reduces the likelihood of struvite crystal and stones from forming in the bladder.
  • Antioxidants – Beta carotene, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health.
  • Fibre and Highly Digestible Carbohydrates – It is more efficient for the body to use carbs as energy and save proteins for vital functions. When protein is used for energy it increases waste products that are excreted by the kidneys. Fibre helps with intestinal mobility and health.
  • Minerals – Corn is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and selenium.

 

People also believe that many dogs are allergic to corn. Studies have suggested that corn is equivalent to or less allergenic than other protein sources such as beef. Food allergies are responsible for less than 1 % of all skin conditions.

There is also the belief that dogs are carnivores and do not do well on a diet high in grains. The definition of a carnivore is an animal that requires certain nutrients in the diet that are more commonly found in animal sources such as the amino acid taurine. It does not mean that these animals have to live solely on meat. In fact, all-meat diets are unbalanced and can lead to vitamin and mineral excesses and deficiencies. Dogs today are better classified as omnivores like us, where their bodies utilize carbs for energy before protein and do well on plant and animal diets. Cats are obligate carnivores where they need certain nutrients from animal sources such as taurine, niacin and vitamin A. Cats also use protein before carbs for energy, so cat foods should be higher in protein than dog foods. This does not mean that cats cannot use carbs or need only animal based protein. As stated earlier, bodies cannot distinguish if an amino acid is from a plant or animal source.

As you can see corn is not a filler with no nutritional value and is not a common food allergen. Corn is more of a super food that provides protein, amino acids, fibre, vitamins, fat and essential fatty acids.

Wheat and Wheat Gluten

wheat glutenGluten has been under scrutiny due to the fad of gluten free diets and more people becoming diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. People then look at the family pet thinking that gluten must also be bad for them. Unfortunately quite a few people do not know what gluten actually is.

Wheat gluten specifically refers to the protein portion of the grain. To obtain it, the flour and the bran components of the whole grain are separated. To release the germ from the gluten, the wheat is first steeped and then ground. It is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the gluten and the starch. The gluten is then dried into a powder and this form is used in pet food.

Wheat gluten is a valuable protein source that has been shown to have a 99% digestibility by the small intestine. This minimizes the delivery of undigested proteins to the large bowel, thereby improving stool quality, reducing fecal odour and flatulence.  Plus it also can reduce the amount of stool you have to pick up.

Wheat gluten also has an amino acid profile that complements meat protein profiles. Wheat gluten is low in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium.

Gluten is made up of many different proteins. The two main groups are the gliadins and the glutenins. Celiac disease is an glutenautoimmune disorder found in individuals who must avoid gliadin, a glycoprotein found in gluten sources such as wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. Celiac disease is serious for those affected, but it is generally well controlled by avoiding consumption of gliadin. Celiac disease is a relatively uncommon condition that affects less than 1% of the population.   This is a human disease and is not found in pets.

Gluten sensitive enteropathy is a disorder of the small intestine that results from an intolerance to gliadin. It is not a food allergy to gluten. Consumption of wheat gluten is not a risk factor for developing the disease. It is a very rare disease that only affects certain breeds such as the Irish Setter. For the rest of the pet population wheat gluten is a wonderful source of nutrition.

Comparing Diets

Now that we have had a look at some items you may see in the ingredient list and cleared up some myths and misconceptions there is one last item I would like to address. How do you compare diets?

analysisThe guaranteed analysis provides information on the levels of protein, fat, fibre, and moisture in the formulation. This is on an “as fed” basis and only provides information on the maximum and minimum levels of nutrients. It is impossible to compare diets based on the guaranteed analysis because you do not know the exact levels.  The food can literally range anywhere within the provided ranges.

A typical analysis or nutrient composition table is necessary to compare diets. The analysis gives a specific nutrient level instead of the max/min levels in the guaranteed analysis. Some companies cannot give you a nutrient table or typical analysis because their diets fluctuate frequently due to what ingredients are available through their manufacturing plant.

The best way to compare diets is to look at the level of nutrients based on the calorie or nutrient density of the diet. If diet A says to feed 2 cups for a 10kg dog and diet B says to feed 1 & ½ cups then diet B would be the better choice. Some companies sell you a big bag of food for a low cost, but you have to feed more than a higher quality diet equaling a higher cost overall.

I hope this information has helped to clear up some misconceptions and helped in educating you in some common marketing tactics. I wish I could just give you a list of diets that are good for your pet and which are bad. If you keep in mind that there is a pyramid when it comes to pet food. Grocery store diets are good, pet store diets are better and veterinary exclusive diets are best.

Pyramid

For some companies it is their job to sell you food and some of them are excellent at it. Try to not get tied up in the hype and fancy commercials. Also, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. If your pet is doing well on their current diet and their weight is good, skin and coat is healthy and they are having good bowel movements then the diet you are on is most likely fine. But if your pet is having problems such as skin/coat, joint, urinary or weight problems, your veterinary staff is there to help you. Extensive research and quality control go into making veterinary exclusive diets. For more information about the research and quality control that goes into these diets please read my blog post called ‘My Tour of Royal Canin’.

I would like to leave you with one last piece of advice. Remember to regularly wash your pet’s dishes with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Remaining food particles attract bacteria and insects. Stay healthy out there.

wash dish

 

Additional information/sources

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/diet-recommendations.pml

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/pet-food-labels.pml

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/get-the-facts.pml

Royal Canin Nutrition Module: Ingredients vs Nutrients

 

What is Your Pet Food Label Telling You? Part 1 of 2

by: Brianna De Vries

There is a lot of information out in the world today about pet food. So many ads, trends and choices. How do you decide what is best for your pet?

It can be overwhelming to wade through all of the options, advertising, and media to determine what information is accurate and what is important. The internet can be full of good information, but it can also be full of bad information and misinformed opinions. The purpose of this blog series is to provide you with some facts and knowledge to help you on your journey.

Pet food labels in Canada are regulated by the Competition Bureau of Canada and the CFIA. Unfortunately there are minimal regulations for pet food labels.

There is also another association that regulates pet food called AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials). AAFCO has no legal authority. Compliance on Canadian specific foods is voluntary and any food that is also sold in the USA is required to have an AAFCO statement. When pet food labels have an AAFCO statement it means that the company has volunteered their information to AAFCO and adhere to their general guidelines.  The AAFCO statement tells us 2 things:

  1. If the food is simply formulated or if it is feeding trial tested
    • Formulated means it follows the guidelines set out by AFFCO but has never been fed to a pet before going to market.  Your pet is the feeding trial test.
    • Feeding trial tested means it has been fed to pets prior to going to market.  However the requirements for feeding trials for the AAFCO statement are minimal.  The food only has to be fed for a minimum 6 weeks to conduct the test and the numbers of animals required to start and end the test are fairly low.  Some companies have their own separate guidelines for feeding trial testing that force them to uphold a higher standard on this part of the statement.
  2. Who the food is for – it will say either a specific life stage: puppy/kitten, adult or senior or it may say all lifestages.  (All lifestages is explained below)

Many food brands tend to market their food around current trends, such as grain free, protein first, gluten-free, etc. Product names can be misleading and confusing. We will look at some of the marketing tactics that are used and what some common terms mean. Let us start with some things you may see on the front of the bag.

Kibble Shape and Color

Some manufactures market their diets based on the shape and color of the kibble. People like the feeling of giving their kitty a bowl of heart and fish shaped kibbles or having a diet for the family dog with stripped colored pieces to represent steak or yellow kibblepieces to represent cheese. The companies do this to appeal to owners, however they have to use dyes to achieve the uniform look. Think of when Heinz made purple ketchup.

Royal Canin and Hill’s do research on kibble technology because it is important to provide kibble adapted to the specific teeth and jaw structure of the pet that will be eating the food. The more uniform the shape and size of the kibble the better.  Foods with a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours in each bag means there is no guarantee as to what your pet is getting in each feeding because each kibble is different.

Human Grade

There is no legal definition for the term human grade. Human grade essentially means that the slaughter house is certified for processing human food. It does not mean the food coming from there would necessarily be something that humans would eat. Also, once an ingredient leaves the slaughter house to a pet manufacture it cannot re-enter the human food chain and is no longer truely human grade.

Holistic, Organic and Natural

Holistic has no legal definition in terms of pet food, any manufacture can make claims of being holistic regardless of ingredients.

To be certified as organic:

  • plant ingredients in foods must be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge.
  • animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to outdoors, and not treated with antibiotics or hormones.

Producers must be inspected to make sure they adhere to these standards.

Natural means that the raw ingredient has not been exposed to a chemical synthetic process, but the final product may have been.  Organic and Natural do not speak to the nutrition supplied or the quality/safety of the diet.

All Lifestage Diets

For optimal nutrition diets need to address specific life stage needs and requirements. “All lifestage diet” means that it meets the nutritional requirements of the most ‘needy’ time frame of the pet’s life which is puppy/kittenhood. Therefore, these diets need to be high enough in calories, fat and protein levels to support a growing puppy/kitten. High calories are not needed for adult pets, especially if they are spayed/neutered, because they are already prone to weight gain. Higher levels of protein are not appropriate for mature/senior animals because it is harder on the kidneys and many mature/senior pets are already developing kidney problems, too high of protein content could exaserbate the problem.  (Remember that this information is stated in the AAFCO statement on the side of the food bag).

Appealing to Owner’s Preferences

berries                This refers to diets that include ingredients such as blueberries, cranberries, meaty juices, fresh veggies and real chicken. These types of ingredients are meant to appeal to the owner. However you may notice that some of these are quite low on the ingredient list which goes in descending order by weight. If there is no measurable levels of blueberries and cranberries included in the formulation the ingredient may not provide a nutritional benefit to the pet. Think of it this way: there could be just a handful of berries in the whole batch of several bags of dog food providing almost no nutritional value then from the berry.  However when the actual antioxidante from the berry (i.e anthocyanins) is in the ingredient listing, there is a higher chance that it is of a beneficial amount for your pet.

Grain Free

Diets that are advertised as grain free again appeal to the owner’s preferences.  Grain free means no wheat, barley, rye etc. These diets will often also contain no corn. They are wheatsupplemented with a different carbohydrate source such as potato and rice (which is actually a grain). These diets may be “grain free”, but that does not mean carbohydrate free. The grain free claim is based on the misconception that dogs and cats are allergic to corn and do not tolerate carbohydrates supplied by grains. Corn and wheat allergies are very rare. We will cover myths about corn and wheat/gluten in part two.

 

Now that we have covered some common terms and marketing that often occurs on the front of the bag, in our next post we will flip it over to the back and bust some myths about the ingredient list and the guaranteed analysis.

Part 2

Additional information/sources

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/diet-recommendations.pml

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/pet-food-labels.pml

http://www.albertnorthvetclinic.ca/get-the-facts.pml

Royal Canin Nutrition Module: Ingredients vs Nutrients

My Tour of the Royal Canin Plant

The pet food market is a fiercely competitive one, where many food companies take advantage of the lax marketing laws to make their food appear to be the absolute best.  In the veterinary field we spend a lot of time constantly increasing and updating our knowledge about nutrition; as nutrition is a vital component of your pet’s health.   The diets carried in our clinic are ones we know go through vigorous testing and are made by companies that are open and uphold extremely high standards for themselves.  Recently our lead nutrition consult, technologist Brianna, went on a tour of the Royal Canin plant.   Below is what she learned.

by: Brianna deVries

I was flown out to the Royal Canin Plant in Guelph, Ontario along with other technicians and support staff from Western Canada.

First off I want to say that Royal Canin is dedicated to the environment and protecting it and it’s resources.

When we arrived at the plant the first thing I noticed or should I say, didn’t notice, was the smell of kibble. We all took a deep breath, but couldn’t detect an unpleasant odor. This was thanks to Royal Canin’s odor treatment system. The plant air is filtered through bio filters that use naturally occurring bacteria to destroy odor causing compounds before being released into the environment. This process uses very little energy, requires no hazardous chemicals and doesn’t produce any harmful waste products.

RC Plant

Once inside we all met in one of the conference rooms where we received an overview of the plant and the safety gear we would be wearing. Since the process of making the diets goes from dirty to clean we were going to see the process in reverse to prevent any contamination. We got dressed in our lab coats, safety glasses, hair nets, hard hats and safety vests, then we were on our way.

The plant is broken down into different color coded sections. Before entering the packaging area we headed into a small room to wash up. We put on white shoe covers, washed our hands and finished with hand sanitizer. We were now geared up, clean and ready to learn.

In the packaging area the diets flow through a hopper and into bags. Before the bags are sealed they are flushed with nitrogen (a non-reactive, natural part of the air we breathe). Replacing the oxygen in the bag with nitrogen minimizes the potential for fat oxidation and product rancidity. The flushing process is performed three times to ensure that the level of oxygen never goes over the maximum allowable limit.

Royal Canin prides themselves on quality control. Before the diets are packaged special testing magnets are placed in the batch of food. All of the sealed bags pass through three different metal detectors to help ensure that there are no metal fragments in the kibble. If all of the magnets are not recovered the entire batch is rejected. Random bags are selected for further testing such as checking oxygen levels, appearance and consistency of kibble, or placed in a water bath to ensure the bags are properly sealed. A sample from each batch is taken and kept for 18 months. Then if they ever receive multiple complaints about a diet from the same batch they can go back to their sample on file and do further testing. This helps determine if there was a problem in the manufacturing or if it was a problem that occurred after the product left the plant.   The bags of food that have been rejected (had a magnet, were underweight, not properly sealed, etc.) and the bags that were selected for random testing do not go to waste. The food is used as fertilizer/compost and the packaging is mulched and used as a fuel pellet.

RC ImagesOne of the things we noticed was that there were beautiful pictures of pets hanging on the walls and the packaging area had windows to let the sun in. What we learned was that all of the pictures on the walls throughout the plant are employee pets and the pictures go through a rotation. The picture of the pet also stays in the same area that the owner works in. So if you work in the packaging area your pet’s professionally done photo will be rotated through that area.  We also learned that all the pet’s images used in Royal Canin’s brochures, website, etc. are owned by employees of the company.

After seeing the packaging and testing process it was off to the extrusion room, or as our tour guide called it, ‘the playdoh press’. We weren’t allowed to enter the actual room, but did get to go into the control room and see the machines through the large windows. Inside the room were all of the computers that operate the machines. Due to Royal Canin’s kibble technology each diet has their own extrusion plate to create the unique kibble.

Royal Canin also has an interesting drying process. Instead of having the kibble dry on a conveyor belt it goes into a drying silo. As the kibble rotates in the silo it dropsUrinary-SO
into the lower levels as the kibble shrinks. This process uses the power of gravity and ensures the kibble are uniformly dried. Once the kibbles are dry a special coating is applied. The coating depends on the particular diet. It could be a mixture of omega fatty acids, green lipped mussel, dental coating or palatants (a coating that helps increase the desire of the pet to eat the food).  The employees take a sample of each batch and mark the date and time. The kibble is then checked for uniform color, size and texture. We had the opportunity to try warm feline urinary s/o fresh from the extruder. It tasted like an unsalted triscuit.

Due to the coating that is applied to the kibble it is recommended to keep the diet in its original packaging and not in a plastic container. The oils in the coating can absorb into the plastic and become rancid. Royal Canin uses natural preservatives such as rosemary extract, so if there is any old kibble at the bottom of the plastic container when new food is poured in, the old food can become moldy and feed on the new food. If you are going to store the diet in a different container be sure there is no old food and thoroughly wash it with soap and water between bags.

Next was on to the lab where the initial testing is done on incoming raw materials. When a shipment is brought to the plant the ingredients are tested before they are accepted. The samples are taken using a long probe with multiple openings that is stuck several feet into the material, so they are not just testing the top. Royal Canin uses near-infrared spectroscopy to ensure that the ‘fingerprint’ of the incoming raw material matches the data base. If the material passes this initial test it then goes to the larger lab on site for further testing. The driver waits on site until all tests are finished; which can take up to 4 hours.  If it doesn’t match the fingerprint on file the shipment is rejected. When materials are rejected they are tested to find out why and Royal Canin then informs the supplier.  If the raw materials meet Royal Canin’s high standards it is given a batch number and put into storage. This batch number allows each raw material to be traced back to the bag of food it was used in. All of the suppliers are rigorously audited and regularly monitored. If a raw material from a supplier gets rejected multiple times they are put on probation and can potentially be dropped as a supplier. Royal Canin does have back up suppliers, so when a shipment is rejected they can call their back up supplier.

RC adultThe last stop of the plant tour was the silos where raw materials are stored and the bins in which vitamins and minerals are stored. Everything had a batch number so all materials can be traced. We were informed that Royal Canin does not store pallets of finished product on site. All diets are made to order, so when one of the distributors such as WDDC (where we order our products through) place an order, Royal Canin then makes and ships the product out. This ensures they are able to send the freshest product possible.

Do you remember those white shoe covers we had to put on at the beginning of the tour? Keep in mind that we were in the packaging area, hallways, the extrusion control room, labs, in where raw materials are stored and even stairwells. There was barely anything on the bottom of our shoe covers! This shows just how clean Royal Canin keeps their facility to prevent any contamination.

We headed back to the conference room where we took off some of our gear. Still keeping our lab coats on and safety glasses we headed outside into the beautiful spring air and walked to their main lab.  The larger lab on site performs the other testing on raw materials and the finished product. The lab also does digestibility tests, checks amino acid compositions, etc. They test products that are under investigation, such as a bag returned because of an odd odor or the pet vomited after eating. They also test the mineral content of certain raw materials because of the specificity of microminerals in a diet. An example of why they do this kind of testing is that all carrots are not the same. If you use carrots that were grown in a selenium deficient soil, then you need to supplement the diet, but if they used a shipment of carrots that were grown in selenium rich soil then the diet would now have too much selenium. The analysts are highly trained chemists and go through an extensive validation process to ensure they provide accurate, reliable and repeatable results no matter the type of samples.*

After the large lab tour we headed back to the conference room where we given an opportunity to have a Q & A session with some of the management. They told us that Royal Canin is very conscious about their impact on the environment. They had planned on becoming a zero landfill company by 2015. Through innovation they achieved this goal in 2013, a year and a half ahead of schedule. All of their waste is diverted from the landfills to be re-used, recycled or re-purposed. When it comes to selecting raw materials for their diets they look into the sustainability of the natural resource.

The Saskatchewan Group

The Saskatchewan Group

It was a fantastic tour that I wish everyone could go on. Royal Canin had nothing to hide from us. They strongly believe in research and what is best for the animal instead of giving in to fads and marketing. They answered all and any questions we had without hesitation. The overall feeling of the tour was positive, enlightening and of course fun.

 

*Amendment – the original post indicated the analysts were biotechs who trained in France, we have since been informed they are chemists and that although they do go through extensive training, this is not done in France.  The blog above has been amended to correct this information.

Pipps – A Story to Warm your Heart

IMG_0255

Pipps prior to her health issues & weight loss

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Pipps is a 13 year old cat with a new lease on life.  Pretty amazing is a great way to describe her for more than one reason.  Let’s start her story in April of 2013 when her owner brought her in because she wasn’t eating and she suddenly had lost a lot of weight*.  Pipps was jaundiced and had mild dehydration.  Dr. Barb Eatock suspected she had fatty liver and went over the options with her owner.  It was decided that she would return the next day for an ultrasound by our in-house diagnostic ultrasound expert Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe.  Ultrasound confirmed a diagnosis of fatty liver.

In a nut shell fatty liver is a form of liver disease where too much fat has entered the kidney too quickly and the body can not process it.  When cats end up with this form of liver disease they often will not eat so the next course of action for Pipps was to place a feeding tube.  The options were to place a tube in her esophagus (through the neck) or directly into her stomach.  Dr. Liebe discussed the options with Pipps’ owner and it was decided to proceed with the esophageal tube.

Although the surgery (performed by Dr. Tracy Fisher) went well, when Pipps breathing tube (from the surgery) was removed she turned blue and stopped breathing.  She was immediately intubated again, CPR was performed and she was given epinephrine.  Once Pipps stabilized the tube was again removed however Pipps was still not well oxygenated so an oxygen mask was kept on her and her chest was xrayed.  Her left lung lope looked as though there could possibly be a tumor.  Dr. Fisher contacted Pipps owner to discuss and it was decided to not proceed further with investigating the potential tumor.  Fortunately Pipps began to stabilize on her own and was steadily improving.

Pipps was kept overnight in clinic on IV fluids.  The following day she was very yellow (more jaundiced then when she first came in), depressed but responsive.  She was fed Recovery and given water through her feeding tube.  Her owner came and took her home with a guarded prognosis.. she anticipated that Pipps may not get better and it could be the end of Pipps time.  However, Pipps had other ideas!  Nine days later she was doing well  – well enough that she was eating again on her own!  It was recommended to change her food to i/d, a diet that is easy on the digestive system.   She came in, had her feeding tube removed and was looking great.  She was no longer jaundiced and she had gained a bit of weight.  Yeah Pipps!  Her owner was thrilled and relieved.

By November, however, Pipps had gained a bunch of weight on the i/d.  Definitely not good as overweight cats are at higher risk of fatty liver and her owner certainly did not want a repeat of the problem she had miraculously overcome.  Pipps’ owner had a consultation with veterinary technician Brianna and together determined it best to switch her over to Metabolic – a diet that works to increase a pet’s metabolism.  By April of 2014 Pipps had not lost any weight, although fortunately she was no longer gaining.  While in for her annual exam she was measured to determine exactly what her daily intake of Metabolic should be and she entered our Biggest Loser Challenge.  At this point Pipps owner described her as a pretty laid back cat.  She couldn’t jump up on to the counters (her owner thought in part due to her age and in part due to the weight).  She didn’t really play much, seemed like the kind of cat that just wanted to spend the day lounging – an older cats prerogative, right?

Over the course of the 6 month challenge Pipps weight lose initially was non-existent, however after 3 months she had lost 0.4kg and by the end of the challenge she had lost 0.7kg (a significant decrease for a cat) clinching the winning spot for the biggest body fat percentage lost by a cat!  Well done Pipps.  Another great success in her health challenges.

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Now Pipps has a renewed lease on life.  She is energetic and playful and surprises her owners daily.  She can get up on the counters, loves to look out the window and in fact, aids the dog in stealing food by knocking it off the shelf!

Even though she is behaving like a kitten, her owner would never complain.   Two years ago she didn’t know if Pipps would still be with them.  Her owner feels it is important for people to realize that just because your pet is older doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be playful and energetic.   It could, in fact, mean that something medically is going on that may be causing them pain or other health issues.  She recommends consulting your vet to be sure your pet is in their peak health so they get the best quality and biggest quantity of life.

IMG_0368  IMG_0370

If you have any questions about your pet, if something seems maybe not quite right, please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

*Quick weight loss in any pet is not a positive, regardless of whether they are overweight or not.  Just like in people weight loss should be intentional and slow.  If it occurs quickly and unexpected it is a sign that something is wrong.

Weight Loss Success!

Elliot

What?!? Did you say “Come put my nose print on the camera?”

Elliot is a typical energetic lovey lab who is certain everyone wants to see him, but he has one small…er….large problem: he is more than 20 lbs overweight!  Well at least that was his problem.  With the aid of Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe, Hill’s Metabolic diet and devoted owners, Elliot is now a svelte man at a nice lean weight a whole 24.5 lbs lighter!

His owner sent us this testimonial:

Elliot before

Elliot before his weight loss

“Thank you for sending those great pics (seen below) of Elliot after losing 20 pounds in about 6 months on the Metabolic diet and treats. He really enjoys the food (but then again Elliot is a lab and is not fussy and loves any and all food). My husband and I are very diligent about adhering to the amounts that Dr. Liebe has recommended.  I also make sure my husband adheres to the 6 treats per day as he was “over-treating before the metabolic diet started”! We could first see a difference within a month and could see his bulkier looking body of 107.9 lbs leaning out. Even though Elliot is a very tall lab this weight was not a healthy one. You could see he is much more comfortable at his new ideal weight being he has hip dysplasia from birth and now (he is almost 8 yrs old) has arthritis in his hips and knees. He has more energy and his mobility was much much improved even after losing the first 10 lbs. He appears to have less issues on getting up from a lying to sitting position and when he gets a treat he actually is jumping up on his back legs with front legs pawing high into the air. He resembles Black Beauty in those old shows!  It brought tears to our eyes as we haven’t seen him do that in a long time!  He is presently at his goal weight of 83.4 pounds and has a handsome hour glass figure. We are continuing with the Metabolic diet and Dr. Liebe has increased the amount per feed to 1 3/4 cup (two times daily) and we are having his weight checked regularly to make sure this ideal weight is maintained.

Elliot after - what a lovely lean body!

Elliot after – what a lovely lean body!

I have attached a pic taken before starting his diet at 107.9 lbs (seen above).

Thank you Dr Liebe, for recommending such an effective method of weight loss for our big boy, Elliot, and Elliot thanks you too as he’s much more comfortable.”

We are so happy for Elliot and his family on their success.  The lighter body means less stress on his joints making many things easier for him to do and over time it will keep him moving easier as he ages.

Getting a pet to loss weight can be tough, but we know that in the long run the devotion to feeding less at meals, giving less treats and increasing activity can be a great preventative method to certain health issues that arise as pets age helping to maintain mobility and even increase your pets life span.

Need help getting started?  Talk to one of our veterinarians or highly trained technicians who can help get you going on the path to a successful weight loss plan.  We will help you to maintain that plan and help you reach success every step of the way.  In the end your pet will thank you for it!

 

Diabetic Pets

The pancreas is made up of exocrine (a gland that secretes through ducts to the epithelium, rather than directly to the bloodstream) and endocrine (a gland that secrets directly into the bloodstream) portions.  The exocrine pancreas is responsible for producing the digestive enzymes.  The endocrine pancreas is responsible for secreting hormones.  It contains Islets of Langerhans, which contain beta cells; these cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin.

Diabetes Mellitus is a disease caused by lack of insulin and/or resistance to insulin.  It occurs mainly in middle aged or older dogs and cats.  The cause is not fully known yet but heredity is likely a large factor in many cases.  Female dogs and male cats appear to be at increased risk.  Certain breeds such as Poodles, Dachshunds, Samoyeds, Bichons, and Cairn Terriers also  appear to be at increased risk.  Obesity increases the likelihood that your pet will develop diabetes.

drinking cat Clinical signs include

  • increased thirst and urination
  • weight loss
  • increased appetite
  • cataracts may occur
  • rarely we may see rear limb weakness.

If the diabetes has gone untreated for some time or if a diabetic animal gets stressed (e.g. from an untreated infection) the animal may become depressed, may not want to eat and may develop vomiting and/or diarrhea; this is called diabetic ketoacidosis.

A diagnosis relies upon blood and urine tests.  Extensive blood tests are necessary to help rule out other disorders that may affect prognosis or cause insulin resistance.

 

 Treatment

Treatment depends on whether the animal is sick or not.  If the animal has diabetic ketoacidosis they should be hospitalized.  Fluids are given, usually intravenously, and the animal will be started on insulin.  Once the animal is eating, not vomiting, and brighter, it can be sent home on insulin.  If the animal does not have diabetic ketoacidosis, it will be started on insulin at home after  the owner is shown how to give injections under the skin and how to handle insulin.

insulin injThe blood sugar should be checked 2-4 hours after the insulin injection at the clinic for the first day or two to ensure that it is not getting too low.  A week after starting insulin, a blood glucose curve will be done; the patient must be hospitalized for the day after getting insulin and being fed at home.  The blood glucose curve involves taking a blood sugar sample every 1-2 hours throughout the day in order to see how effective the insulin dose is, how long it is lasting and when it reaches its lowest point.  If the blood sugar is not getting to the desired range, the insulin dose will be adjusted and the blood glucose curve will be repeated in another week or two.  This continues until the blood glucose gets down to the desired level.  After the curves reach the desired level, the blood glucose will be checked at the time it reaches its lowest level, once every 1-2 weeks to start, then gradually less frequently.  It usually takes about one month of blood glucose curves to the find the desired dose, although some animals will be regulated after only 1 or 2 curves and some will require several curves.

 

Owners should be aware of the signs of low blood sugar, as one of the main complications of insulin treatment is low blood sugar.  These signs include:

  • weakness
  • lethargy
  • wobbliness
  • seizures.

You can give food, syrup or sugar water unless the animal is seizuring, in which case it is necessary to phone the clinic immediately.  If the patient is vomiting or not eating, please phone your veterinarian; usually the full insulin dose will not be given and an exam will be recommended.

diabetic foods

Feeding is important with diabetes.  For dogs preferably a high fiber diet should be used; this can decrease insulin requirements by causing weight loss and decreased post-eating fluctuations of blood glucose.  Half the days calories should be fed within ½ an hour of the morning injection and the rest 12 hours later at the time of the second insulin injection. * For cats higher protein, lower carbohydrate diets are usually recommended.

 

Oral medications don’t work on most diabetic animals and so are not commonly used or recommended.  Occasionally cats will respond to these drugs.  These drugs can only be tried if the cat is otherwise healthy and not in diabetic ketoacidosis.  Secondary side effects to the oral medications include vomiting and liver disease, blood glucose dropping too low or progression of the diabetes, potentially to ketoacidosis, if the oral medications don’t work.  If there is no improvement after one to two months, the cat should be switched to insulin.  Occasionally, a cat will have transient diabetes, where eventually it can be weaned off insulin, especially if they are on a low carb diet and reach a healthy weight.

 

The prognosis is generally good for most diabetics, unless they have other complicating diseases.  However, it should be remembered that diabetes is a potentially life threatening disease and can be expensive to treat, especially if complications occur, so the decision of whether to treat or not to treat should not be taken lightly.  If the owner elects not to treat, the patient should be euthanized once it loses its appetite, starts vomiting and becomes depressed.

If you suspect your pet may have diabetes please contact your veterinarian.  The sooner your pet is placed on a proper diet and started on medication, the better for your pet.

eating dog

Biggest Loser Season II – WINNERS

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Our second season of Biggest Loser has come to an end and we are happy to report that all contestants lost weight over the course of the challenge.  We have a few contestants that hadn’t made it in for a final weigh in, but in the few months they had participated they too had lost weight.

Losing weight is not easy and sometimes it seems it can be even harder with pets, especially for cats.  It is certainly easier to increase your dog’s activity by going for more or longer walks and playing more games of fetch.  With a cat it is tough to increase their exercise, but it can be done with games at home, various toys and activities.  The Metabolic diet is also very helpful, working with your pet’s own body to increase metabolism and burn off that extra weight.  We are so happy that the cats in the Biggest Loser Challenge this year had great success with their weight loss and are all planning to stick with the new food to get down to that ideal weight!

Dogs Jade Poko Leo Moka Pup Pup
First Place Second Place
Starting Weight 10.8kg 8.5kg 15.5kg 44.4kg 6.6kg
BFI 48.9% 49.2% 57.1% 47.4% 54.5%
Final Weight 8.5kg 7.5kg 13.5kg 40.6kg 6.1kg
BFI 35.1% 42.4% 50.8% 42.5% 51.5%
Total Loss 2.3kg/13.8% 1kg/6.8% 2kg/6.3% 3.8kg/4.9% 0.5kg/3%
Fritz BJ
Starting Weight 9.3kg 52.6kg
BFI 41.1% 54.8%
Final Weight no final weigh in no final weigh in
BFI
Total Loss as of July 0.8kg as of June 1.3kg
Cats Pipps Indiana Comet
First Place Second Place
Starting Weight 5.9kg 5.9kg 7.2kg
BFI 46.0% 49.0% 43.3%
Final Weight 5.2kg 5.2kg 6.8kg
BFI 40.0% 43.1% 40.0%
Total Loss 0.7kg/6% 0.7kg/5.9% 0.4kg/3.3%

 

The winners all receive a bag of food and a bag of treats!  Congratulations again to all on their weight loss success!

Biggest Losers…& the Winners are…

Monday October 7th marked the end of our Biggest Loser Challenge.  We are happy to report that EVERY contestant lost weight during the contest period!  Congratulations and well done!  Today, Wednesday October 9th is Pet Obesity Awareness Day – we thought it extremely appropriate to announce our winners in conjunction with this important day.

We asked each owner to provide us with some feedback on their experience.  The questions asked were:

1) Did your pet like the diet food?

2) What did you like and/or dislike about the diet?

3) What changes did you notice in your pet? (activity level, exercise tolerance, etc)

4) Would you recommend this diet to a friend?

5) Do you plan to continue with the diet?

6) Once your pet has reached their ideal weight, what will you do to maintain it?

Here are the answers and starting photo(s) from each of our contestants:

Poko (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.6%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes she liked the food.  We soaked the kibbles at first to make her feel fuller.

2) Her appetite stayed the same (the diet didn’t bring it down).

3) We noticed that she is a little less tired after walks.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) Once she has reached her weight goal we will wait for the vet’s recommendation for what food to go with next.

Janu (on r/d) – starting BFI 46.2%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes she liked the food

2)

3) I noticed that Janu is more energetic.

4)

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) I will discuss with the vet/technologist the plan to maintain her weight once we reach our goal.

Daphne (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.4%

Daphne above1) She loved the food!

2) I am amazed at the results of the diet.

3) I noticed her energy level is higher and that there is no longer laboured breathing after short periods of exercise.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.   Daphne belly

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to continue to feed Metabolic.

Piper (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.8%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Piper liked the food, it took a little longer to eat due to the kibble size.

2) I didn’t see the results that I expected, but am happy he lost some.

3) His breathing is better, not so laboured after doing the stairs.  He is more energetic and active, has a higher exercise tolerance and looks forward to his walks.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to keep him on Metabolic.

JoJo (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 55.0%

JoJo1) Yes Jojo likes the food, she is eating it well and really likes the canned.

2) I saw results, noticed more loose skin and she doesn’t have her fat pad on her neck anymore.

3) She is more active and lively and has a better appetite (wants to eat).

4) Yes, I would recommend this food to a friend.  Jojo Brown Side

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to stay with Metabolic.

Rusty (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 53.9%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes, Rusty liked the food.

2) The food is easy to use, just use the measuring cup and he can have the Metabolic treats.  For the price of the food I believe you get your money’s worth and it’s cost effective.

3) Rusty’s collar is looser, he can jump on the bed easier and seems more active.  His appetite seems to be the same.

4) Yes, I would recommend this food to a friend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) He is doing well on the food and seems to like it, so I will probably stay with Metabolic for maintenance.

Gunner (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.6%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes

2) Everything was good.

3) He has way more energy, his fur looks shinier and healthy, his teeth even look whiter!  He is also playing with our new lab.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.

5) Yes  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) I plan to keep him on Metabolic – he is doing well on it.

Jimmy (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 53.9%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes

2) The food was easy to measure and I saw the results.

3) Jimmy is no longer limping.  Previously when he had been laying down, upon rising he would limp, he no longer does.  His eyes don’t tear up as much and he has more energy.

4) Yes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Will discuss with the vet/tech what is the best diet option when the time comes.

Moka (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 57.4%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) It took a few days to get use to, but Moka likes it now.

2) I liked that I saw the results

3) Moka is like a puppy again, she is brighter and wants to play.  Before I had to pull her to go for a short walk now she pulls me on 45 min walks!

4) Sure would! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Plan to discuss it with the vet at that time.

Playdoh (on Metabolic & r/d) – starting BFI 35%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Playdoh eats anything, so the food wasn’t a problem.

2) It is easy and I didn’t worry as much when he would sneak some of the other cat’s food or steal something from the kids.

3) He doesn’t have his handful of fat pad anymore! He is easier to pick up.

4) Yes  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Will keep him on a combination of Metabolic and r/d, especially since he is such a food thief, it will help to keep him nice and trim.

Lucky (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 50.0%

lucky1) Yes, Lucky was a kibble only cat, he would not eat wet food but he really liked the Metabolic wet.

2) Dislike the price.

3) Lucky’s coat looks healthier and he seems happier.  He also is moving around better

4) Yes

5) Yes

6) Will discuss when he gets there – I do plan to stay with a veterinary formula.

Now, we are sure you are wondering;

How did they all do??

Well here it is, each of our contestants.  We have listed their starting BFI, the amount of weight lost over the course of the Challenge, where their BFI ended up (the top end of ideal for both cats and dogs is 25% so this is the target BFI for all Contestants) and the total fat percentage lost.  Congratulations to ALL of our contestants for losing weight!  Every single one is well on their way to a healthy BFI and a longer, fuller life.

Contestants Starting BFI (%) Weight lost kg/lbs Ending BFI (%) Total Loss (%)
Jojo (K9) 55.0 0.5/1.1 48.1 6.9
Poko (K9) 54.6 1.3/2.9 48.0 6.6
Janu (K9) 46.2 1.2/2.6 40.6 5.6
Piper (K9) 57.8 0.9/2 53.7 4.1
Gunner (K9) 54.6 2.5/5.5 48.5 6.1
Daphne (K9) 54.4 1.9/4.1 44.4 10.0
Moka (K9) 57.4 11.8/26 45.9 11.5
Rusty (K9) 43.9 2.8/6.2 37.7 6.2
Jimmy (K9) 53.9 1.6/3.5 44.5 9.4
Lucky (Fe) 50.0 2.27/5 33.3 16.7
Playdoh (Fe) 35.0 0.5/1.1 29.2 5.8

Our winners are:

for the dogs –  Moka with a total loss of 11.5%

for the cats – Lucky with a total loss of 16.7%.

We would like to thank Hill’s for sponsoring our Biggest Loser Challenge.  Each contestant received a canvas bag with a small bag of food, a bag of treats and two cans, plus a $10 off coupon of the Metabolic diet at the midway point of the challenge, courtesy of Hill’s.

Our winners will be receiving:

  • A bag of food (owner’s choice of type courtesy of Hill’s)
  • A toy (pet’s choice provided by us)
  • A night at the movies (for the owner provided by us)

Our second place winners will receive:

  • A medium bag of food (owner’s choice of type courtesy of Hill’s)
  • A bag of treats (Metabolic – courtesy of Hill’s)

And because all our contestants are winners we are providing all our other contestants with a prize as well:

  • A toy (pet’s choice)

Here are all the contestants before photos and their current photo (side by side with the before for comparison):

For more information on Obesity, Weight and Management and the Hill’s Metabolic Diet:

Obesity Quiz

Calorie Contents in Treats

More Calorie Contents in Dog Treats

Hill’s Metabolic

Body Fat Index

Obesity

Diet is Only Half the Battle

Obesity

The statistics say that 30 to 50 percent of our pets are overweight, with 35% being obese – and most of us owners aren’t even aware of it!  That’s a very high incidence.   Part of preventative health care includes maintaining a healthy weight.

Take an Obesity Quiz to see how much you know about obesity, the risks and factors involved.

There is sound and irrefutable evidence that obesity has devastating effects both on longevity and on the quality of life.  As an example; in humans, mortality at any age is higher in people who overweight. This is primarily due to increased heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and digestive diseases.

scale

Increased incidence of disease in the obese pet is equally alarming:

  • Heart and Circulatory disease increase up to 75 percent
  • Reproductive disorders increase up to 65 percent
  • Musculoskeletal diseases increase up to 54 percent (eg. ruptured ligaments, arthritis)
  • Cancers up to 50 percent increase.
  • Skin conditions up to 40 percent increase.

These are very worrying statistics.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is medically defined as a 15 percent or greater increase in optimal body weight – so what’s the ideal weight?  Most pets will reach their ideal weight within one year of maturity.  The ideal weight for your particular dog can be found from charts.  With few exceptions, the ideal weight for the average healthy adult domestic cat is between 3.5 and 4.5 kilograms (8 to10 lbs.)

A fairly simple, although subjective, test for the degree of obesity is to make a judgment of the amount of adipose (fatty) tissue overlying the rib cage and along the abdomen.  Here’s how to do it.  The animal is too thin if the ribs are easily seen.  The animal is normal if the ribs are easily felt with light pressure, without any appreciable layer of fat.  The animal is obese if the ribs cannot easily be felt.  We should also appreciate that most breeds should have an hourglass or waist line when viewed from above.  Other signs of obesity include a pendulous or protruding abdomen, enlarged fatty areas over the hips and around the tail, and a waddling sluggish walk or gait.

Our concern with obesity isn’t merely for cosmetic vanity, but is based on sound evidence as to its devastating effects on longevity and quality of life.

What Causes Obesity?

In a word … calories!  Obesity is nearly always caused by one simple fact – overeating.  Too much food and too little exercise.

Metabolic, “hormonal” or “glandular” problems are extremely rare and can often be corrected by medical means in addition to diet control.  There is an old adage “fatness runs in the family” – the truth is that overeating runs in the family, and nobody runs!

We are well aware that some breeds are more prone to obesity than others, for example, Beagles, Dachshunds, Labs and Goldens tend to lay it on with ease, but this should prompt us to be even more vigilant with these particular breeds of pet.  The true tragedy is that the obese pet is the helpless victim of a compulsive owner.  A pet simply cannot get fat on its own. Many people use food as a reward. A treat is offered and the animal is rewarded for eating it by being petted or some such thing. The animal then associates food with affection and constantly seeks more of each. The owner then continues to feed the animal in the belief that the actual feeding pleases the animal and the cycle continues.

Let’s examine what we can do about it.

fatcat

Controlling the Problem

Admitting to yourself that your pet is obese is the first step.  Accepting responsibility for the condition is the next.  Then, and only then will you be in the frame of mind to succeed in your goal of weight loss.

Every program of weight reduction should be tailored to the individual pet after consultation with your own veterinarian.  It is also absolutely vital that you solicit and acquire absolute cooperation from every member of the family – lack of total dedication and commitment will only bring frustration and disappointment.

The following guidelines will be something like your own veterinarian might recommend.

  • Eliminate ALL extra sources of food, table scraps, treats, snacks from neighbors etc. In fact, throw out all pet treats! (Or donate them to the animal shelter.)
  • Consider the use of specially formulated prescription reducing diets.  These diets are high in fibre and lower in calories, but otherwise completely balanced so are very filling.  There is also Metabolic to help increase a pet’s metabolism.
  • Make sure the diet you are using is top quality and suited to your pet and then consider reducing total consumption by up to 20 percent.  Feed the remaining 80 percent in three or four divided meals during the day. This method works on some dogs and tends to eliminate begging.
  • Make sure ample fresh water is available at all times.
  • Weigh your pet weekly – this will keep you motivated to keep thinking positively.
  • Do multiple short periods of exercise instead of one long period.  Once your pet’s exercise tolerance increases, you can decrease the frequency as you increase the length of exercise time per outing.

To help you realize the ease with which obesity can creep up on us, consider this:

A dog or cat that consumes only one percent more calories than needed, on a daily basis, will be 25 percent overweight by middle age.

If your pet is overweight or you aren’t sure contact us, so together we can start to treat this disease right away.

For more information on weight and exercise ideas for your pet(s) see our additional blog posts:

Body Fat Index – what does that mean?

Diet is Only Half the Battle