Losing It… Your Pet’s Healthy Weight

By Ava Frick, DVM

Trying to help your pet lose weight can be frustrating. Traditional “weight loss” diets often lack sufficient levels of the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that animals specifically need based on individual idiosyncrasies. The bottom line is that what is on the bag is not enough. Changing how a body recognizes and metabolizes its food (nutrients) needs to be addressed for any successful and healthy weight loss program. Here are the stories of two dogs that have successfully experienced losing weight and enjoying every bite of it!

HOLLY: An 8-year-old, spayed yellow Labrador Retriever who weighed 122 pounds. She was fed a top line dry food for large dogs. Holly has had problems with weight most of her life, is afraid of storms, had repeated ear infections, and now has problems doing the things she enjoys the most: going for walks and swimming. She has difficulty bending her left elbow, painful swelling in left hock, and her nutritional assessment indicates problems with liver and endocrine function, and carbohydrate metabolism.
The plan was to get her weight down to 85 lbs. Her home-cooked, grain-free diet is: 1 cup twice a day, 1-2 eggs at bedtime, with 1/2 cup protein and veggie snacks during the day. She is also given vitamins, minerals, and tissue extracts selected to address her conditions, and medications and supplements for her pain and inflammation. Regular chiropractic adjustments and rechecks were necessary to make changes to the program. Holly also engages in daily walks that she can tolerate.

We are not at the goal point yet but Holly continues to improve and had a great summer without pain.

In November, Holly weighed 122 lbs, with measurements of 94 cm around the pelvis, and 96 cm around the thorax. In December, she had resumed playing with toys, had adjusted to her new food, and had a higher activity level. The harsh winter last year slowed her progress, but by March was down to 104 lbs, with an 83 cm pelvis and 92 cm thorax. By August 2014, Holly has lost almost 26 lbs, was swimming everyday, and had no limp for 2 months.

Her Parents say, “She’s doing phenomenal. I’m very happy with the way she’s losing weight.”

BLAZE: A 9 1/2-year-old, male neutered Border Collie mix was eating a lamb and rice dry food for most of his life. He developed degenerative joint disease in both hips, had problems walking, and was overweight. His owners were hoping to avoid hip replacement surgery. Addressing his pain and arthritis was vital to getting him moving. Initially, drugs were used for his pain, but with some herbs, vitamin and mineral replacements, and correcting his body metabolism, it wasn’t long before he was able to scale-down. A home-made diet was selected for him. In April, Blaze tipped the scale at 91 pounds and by August he was below 75. That is a 16 pound loss in 4 months! Part of his program included underwater treadmill exercise. He enjoys his water therapy, runs and plays, and has no difficulty walking or climbing stairs. His happiness level is way up!

If your pet is overweight here are steps to take:

  1. Read the label on the food you are feeding. Does if fit what this animal would eat out in the real world? For help with understanding this read www.DogtorJ.com. Then make a better change.
  2. Is pain part of the reason? If so, aside from medications, consider other therapy that can provide relief such as massage, hot/cold packs, liniments, herbs, and pain-specific therapeutic modalities.
  3. Is there a daily exercise program? If not, get one that fits your pet’s ability and current status.
  4. For those with long term obstinate obesity, adjusting endocrine and metabolic trends will most likely be needed to get the pounds dropping.

For more information please contact Dr. Frick at her Pet Rehab and Pain Clinic by calling 636-489-5350 or visit her online at www.animalrehabstlouis.com.