A veterinarian weighs in: the best pet food for weight loss

obesity is a problem in companion animals

As with people, gaining unwanted weight and obesity is a severe health care epidemic in companion animals. There are multiple reasons for this growing epidemic: indiscriminate feeding practices by animal guardians, as well as too many extra treats and scraps from the table are all major factors in significant weight gain in our dogs and cats.

Just like the situation with their parental human guardians, lack of exercise is also a major factor in the obesity epidemic of pets. This is very important to be aware of, as overweight and/or obese pets are much more prone to urinary tract inflammation and crystals, diabetes, heart disease, as well as joint and spinal problems to name just a few conditions.

With domesticated felines, the feeding of significant amounts of dry food to cats often is the chief factor involved in overweight/obese cats, and something as simple as eliminating dry food in our cats’ diets goes a long way toward helping prevent and even sometimes treating secondary obesity-related diseases, including urinary tract disease and diabetes. While the situation with dogs is not as striking, the feeding of processed carbohydrate based dry kibble diets has also been linked with overweight and/or obese animals, and the minimization or elimination of such diets is a very critical component of any weight loss program.

While pet food manufacturers often market “weight loss” or low-fat diets as the way to lose weight in pets, in my experience and opinion, the feeding of many of these over-the-counter diets actually contributes to weight gain and obesity, given the high percentage of carbohydrates as protein sources in these formulas. Therefore, probably the best way to get our animal companions to lose weight is to feed them a minimal or low carb diet, which more closely mimics a carnivore’s diets than many of the commercial pet foods fed to pets throughout this country. Ideally, this should be a proper and balanced, low carbohydrate home-prepared diet, as described in the book The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier, or Dr. Pitcairn’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD. However, if this is not possible, then feeding a more holistic, natural, low carb or preferably starch free wet food or low carb dry food diet would be acceptable. One of my favorite choices here is the formula developed by Wysong called Epigen.

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