Why good nutrition is important

Good nutrition is as important to our pets as it is to us as humans . We are what we eat and if we don’t eat well it can lead to weight gain and long term health issues . 

But the pet food industry is dominated by pet food manufacturers who don’t create and sell pet food that is healthy or nutritionally dense . Instead they are often motivated by making profits and are mass producing dog and cat food that could in fact be doing harm to your furry friend 

In order for thriving health to occur, all living things must consume the foods they were designed to eat . This is known as species-appropriate nutrition

Dogs and cats, like humans, are more resilient and can eat a number of things their bodies were not designed to eat . However, their health and vitality suffers .

Issue with animals being overweight

According to a 2018 survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in the US, 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats are classified as overweight or obese!

While a similar study hasn’t been in Australia for over 15 years, it’s thought that rates in Australia are comparable and increasing.

The last time this survey was done in Australia (in 2005) the results showed 40% of dogs were overweight or obese, which is an enormous and worrying jump. While we don’t have current data for Australian cats, unfortunately based on historical trends it is likely that feline obesity rates in Australia are also rising.

Equally as concerning, it’s thought that 90% of pet owners don’t realise their pet is overweight!

So, what’s a few extra pounds? Well, it could mean the difference between a long, happy and pain-free life, or one coloured by disease and shortened by obesity.

Health impact on dogs

The impact of additional weight or obesity on our dogs can include an increased risk of skin conditions, chronic inflammation, arthritis, orthopaedic issues, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, colitis and other digestive problems, urinary issues, liver disease, pancreatic inflammation, an increased risk of complications during surgery (which is more likely to be required) and, ultimately, a reduced life expectancy .

Cross reference this list with the top ten reasons for vet visits in dogs in 2018 (in the USA), and a clear pattern emerges:

  • 26% saw a vet for stomach issues
  • 17% for skin conditions
  • 14% for pain
  • 10% for ear infections
  • 7.7% for eye conditions
  • 5.8% for a growth or lump
  • 5% for cancer
  • 4.8% for cruciate ligament or ACL
  • 4.8% for a UTI and
  • 4.5% for a heart condition

Health impact on cats

It can be particularly challenging to maintain a heathy weight in our cats because they are naturally more sedentary creatures than dogs, and their stature doesn’t always reveal the true state of their physique.

But it’s a serious problem and even just one kilo of additional weight increases the risk of a myriad of health problems, including digestive issues, kidney disease and urinary infections, cancer, skin conditions, arthritis and chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, pancreatic inflammation, an increased risk of complications during surgery (which is more likely necessary) and, sadly, a shorter life expectancy . 

If we compare this list with the top ten reasons catssaw a veterinarian in 2018 (in the USA), a pattern clearly emerges:

  • 31.8% saw a vet for stomach issues
  • 12.5% for a urinary tract infection
  • 8.4% for cancer
  • 8.1% for a heart conditions
  • 7.2% for skin conditions
  • 7.1% for eye conditions
  • 6.8% for pain
  • 6.5% for kidney problems
  • 6.5% for diabetes and
  • 5.2% for ear infections 

What is the right weight for my Dog or Cat?

The first step we recommend is to use a body condition chart to determine if your Dog or Cat is a healthy weight, like the ones below . This will give you an idea of how much work you have ahead of you, and it will help you document your progress .

Before embarking on any weight loss journey for your dog, it’s important to have a thorough check up at the vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying health problems causing your pet’s weight gain, such as an under active thyroid . 

Most dogs will be completely fine to follow the exercise guidelines in this meal plan, but it’s a good idea to check with your vet what an appropriate amount of exercise
is for your dog if they are a bit older or have any health conditions, like arthritis . 

Unfortunately, not all vets are well versed in fresh food diets and aren’t always supportive of home cooking . This is a complex topic that relates to both the risks of poorly formulated homemade recipes, and the influence of “big pet food .” 

These recipes have been formulated to meet the same standards commercial pet food in Australia is generally formulated to meet (the AAFCO standards), which will hopefully alleviate any concern . If not, finding a vet that supports fresh foods is a helpful step to successfully implementing this meal plan, as they can encourage and guide you, building your confidence and supporting you and your dog on their journey
to wellness . 

What can we do to help our pet if they are overweight

As time has passed and our dogs have gradually gotten heavier, it’s understandable that we may have lost sight of what a healthy weight really looks like . After all, it’s now the norm for dogs to be overweight, if not obese! 

Before we get into the meaty bits, we have summarised out top 10 tips to help your dog lose weight and keep it off .

1. Ditch the heavily processed, carbohydrate dense pet food

2. Start your pet on a fresh, species appropriate diet 

3. Stop obsessing over restricting calories and focus on nourishing your dog or cat

4. Exercise with your dog or cat daily

5. Make sure your pet is hydrated 

6. Quit the ultra-processed treats and make simple, healthy swaps

7. Become a planner and incorporate your pet’s food prep into your family’s routine 

8. Keep healthy, easy options in the pantry for when life inevitably gets busy

9. Monitor your pet’s body condition score regularly to track their progress 

10. View this as an investment in your pet’s health that will extend your life together

Check out our products and programs that encompasses all of the above and will put your dog or cat back on the right track

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