According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 57% of cats and 52% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. You’ve probably heard that overweight pets have an increased risk for developing serious medical problems, such as diabetes. However, did you know that pets at an ideal weight live an average of 2 years longer than their overweight peers?

Popular pet nutrition company Purina has recently developed a pet weight-loss program called Project: Pet Slim Down. The program is facilitated by Purina Certified Weight Coaches – veterinary professionals who have undergone additional training in pet nutrition.

Ryegate Small Animal Hospital is proud to have our very own Purina Certified Weight Coach – Moriah, who has been a technician at RSAH since 2000!

Below are Moriah’s answers to some of the most common questions about Project: Pet Slim Down and pet weight loss:

What is Project: Pet Slim Down?

Project: Pet Slim Down is a nutrition-based program provided by Purina that helps to track patients’ weight and weight loss efforts with the expert guidance of a Purina Certified Weight Coach. There are several different prescription diet formulas available.

What kind of training did you complete to become a Purina Certified Weight Coach?

I completed 16 hours of online education, which included information on different types of nutrition and how best to feed cats and dogs to achieve weight-loss goals.

My veterinarian gave my dog a Body Condition Score of 7. What does that mean?

A Body Condition Score is based on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being very thin and 9 being very heavy. Ideal weight is between 4 and 5, which means the ribs can be easily felt but not see, a waist can be seen when viewed from above, and the abdomen is tucked up when viewed from the side. A score of 7 indicates that your pet is too heavy.

What are the risks of my pet being overweight?

Pets that are overweight have an increased risk of certain health conditions, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, and hip dysplasia. Overweight pets also have an increased anesthetic risk and are prone to exercise intolerance. Pets that are overweight also have a shorter life expectancy compared to pets at an ideal weight.

If my animal needs to enroll in a weight-loss program, do I have to stop giving treats?

No, giving treats is part of the relationship that you have with your pet.The calories in the treats, however, must be taken into account. There are many options for commercial low-calorie dog treats, such as Purina?s Lite Snackers and hypoallergenic Gentle Snackers. Carrots, green beans, pumpkin, lettuce, air-popped popcorn (unsalted/unbuttered), pretzel sticks, and plain rice cakes can also be included in your pets diet.

If my veterinarian told me that my dog should lose 15 pounds, about how long should that take?

An average of 1-2% weight loss per week is expected. Activity level and other factors will determine how quickly your pet will lose weight. Weight loss is different for every pet, and should be adjusted to each individual pet.

What is the best way to exercise my senior cat?

Place small meals around the house to encourage your older cat to hunt for their food. Placing the litter box and food/water bowls in different areas of the house will cause your cat to cover more ground in a days time.

*Always consult your Weight Coach or veterinarian before adjusting the amount of food given or starting an exercise program with your pet.*

Interested in learning more about Project: Pet Slim Down and how to help your pet live a longer, healthier life? Call us at (802) 633-3660 and ask to speak with Moriah!