Exercise vs. Diet: Which is more important for pet weight loss?
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com and we’re answering questions this morning that came into the website. This is a really great question, it comes from Vivian and its really simple, it says, “What is the best way to help my cat lose weight, from food or exercise?” This is terrific I love this question because nobody knows. I think the average pet owner doesn’t know the answer to this. They always go to exercise but exercise has so little to do with it.
It’s about ten percent ninety percent of weight loss is really about the diet and in my life that sucks because I can work out every day but if you eat McDonalds at the end of the week, you’re probably not going to lose weight and so we got to think about that in terms of our pets as well which makes it really difficult because let’s face it, we love our pets and a lot of the way we love them is by giving them food and treats. So here’s a couple things you can do with getting a weight off a cat and it’s not easy. So first of all you’re gonna want to get a food that’s a diet food that’s lower-calorie. You gotta remember you want them to kind of fill up on it but the calorie load is still low, so they feel satiated, so their appetite goes away but the calorie content in their stomach is lower.
I had two cats, they were perfect weight and they had absolute full access to food 24 hours a day but they maintained their weight. It was because the food was a really appropriate caloric density so maintain their weight like that so you want to talk to your veterinarian about it and then you want them to do a calculation for you to figure out the right body condition score. We have a program coming onto the website that’s a weight management program where we do this and show you how to identify body condition score and how to get it to a perfect body condition score and do that calculation for you right now you’ll have to have your veterinarian do that or even talk to one of the technicians at the clinic. They usually know how to do that too and then you figure out how many calories a day you need to feed your pet to get to the ideal body condition score then you really have to get a measuring cup, a real one, and really measure out that food and feed it properly.
If you have a multi-pet household you gotta get creative. So if you got a fat cat and a thin cat, then the fat cat, what you can do is you can feed the thin cat inside a box with a little hole that the thin cat can fit through but the fat cat won’t be able to fit through there so they can’t access the food, or the fat cat can’t jump up to the counter where the thin cat can. So you have to get creative about these things. I did have a client once say to me if you ever have someone whose cat is overweight and needs to lose weight then you need to tell them to get a food ball and a food ball is something where you can actually put the food inside and the cat has to bat around and the kibble drops out one at a time.
It engages them, I think it’s good environmental enrichment, but I think it slows down their eating and their appetite and they get the exercise in a little bit too, but I think it, I, I think it basically slows them down on their intake of food and that’s rather important because let’s face it, these cats, they’re meant to be out there hunting and chasing things, I mean, that’s their natural instincts but we bring them into the home and they may not have that environmental stimulus. So some of these guys just go to the food bowl because that’s stimulating and they eat and they eat more than they should and most house cats are overweight largely most of them and people really don’t know. So we really want to focus on that because with our overweight cats they can get heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, all sorts of good stuff so we really want to get their weight down to decrease their propensity for forming those problems. I really appreciate this question, I don’t think enough people know that really it’s about diet control, about food control and quite honestly restricting themselves from giving too many treats and too much love to their pet. We all love our pets but you’ve really got to watch it with the food.
Keep those questions coming to healthcareforpets.com where we’re dedicated to your pet’s health.