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Preventive care

Losing weight

Is your pet overweight? We can help you get your pet responsibly slim and healthy. Simply reducing food intake can sometimes lead to a deficiency in protein and other nutrients. With our FeedWise® nutrition program, we can provide a diet plan that allows your pet to lose weight at a healthy pace while still getting all the nutrients it needs. We'll record your pet's weight every two weeks and advise you on any issues you encounter during the weight loss process. 

In the Netherlands, there are nearly 2 million dogs and over 3 million cats. It is estimated that about 35-40% of these pets are overweight, ranging from slightly overweight to true obesity. When more calories are given than the body needs, your pet gains weight. This often happens gradually, and as an owner, you get used to the increasingly rounder shapes. It’s quite common to discover during the annual check-up by weighing that your pet has gained weight, or visitors may point out that your pet has become fatter.

Overweight or obesity (where your pet is 20-25% above its ideal weight) is very harmful to health. Excess fat causes an inflammatory reaction that damages organs and joints. Overweight pets have an increased risk of osteoarthritis, heart failure, diabetes, and cancer. A lifelong study in dogs showed that even moderately overweight dogs develop chronic health problems earlier in life than their lean littermates. Overweight cats also get diseases more frequently and earlier. For instance, the risk of developing diabetes doubles in overweight cats and quadruples in obese cats.

Altered secretion of adipokines (tissue hormones) appears to be an important mechanism linking overweight to many diseases. Fat tissue produces hormones like leptin and resistin, and cytokines, including many inflammatory cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β, and IL-6, and C-reactive protein). The ongoing, low-level inflammation secondary to obesity is believed to play a causal role in chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and other conditions. Tumor necrosis factor-α, for example, changes insulin sensitivity by blocking the activation of insulin receptors. Furthermore, obesity is associated with increased oxidative stress, which damages healthy tissues and cells in the body, leading to uncontrolled cell division that causes cancer, faster aging, and a higher chance of health issues.

Overweight also poses an increased risk during anesthesia. This is not only due to the higher risk of cardiovascular diseases but also because anesthetics are absorbed by the fat tissue. Overweight animals take longer to go under anesthesia and have a longer recovery time. Additionally, fat around the airways can complicate breathing. Excess fat can simply get in the way and cause problems. Think of a cat that is too fat to groom itself, leading to matted fur. Or a dog that snores and breathes more difficultly due to fat accumulation in its throat.

When activity has gradually decreased due to overweight (or another condition), it can be difficult to shed the extra pounds. To lose weight, your pet not only needs to consume fewer calories but ideally also move more. The muscle buildup from exercise helps your pet burn more energy even while sleeping. Losing weight without (a lot more) exercise can hardly happen without feeling hungry.

When starting a weight loss program, there will be an initial period of about 3 weeks where your pet will beg for food. It is important not to give in! If you give in even once out of 10 times, your pet learns that persistent begging will eventually get food. So, stay consistent! Fortunately, there are weight loss diets available that help limit the feeling of hunger. These diets are high in protein and fiber and contain L-carnitine, which boosts fat burning. By feeding these diets according to a schedule we provide, you ensure that your pet gets enough proteins and other nutrients. More walks with your dog or playing with your cat will distract them from hunger and increase activity, speeding up metabolism and burning more calories.

Sometimes additional medication or treatment is needed, such as pain relief, physiotherapy, or thyroid examination and medication. However, weight loss should not happen too quickly. Especially in cats, sudden calorie restriction can make them very ill. Liver lipidosis with anorexia can occur. To prevent this, we weigh your pet every two weeks to ensure they do not lose more than 1-2% of their body weight. Want to know if your pet is overweight? Try the body condition score.