The obesity epidemic in pets in America is just that: an epidemic. Over 50% of dogs and cats are considered to be obese. According to veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than overweight. Clinical obesity results in more secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and certain forms of cancer. Pets with obesity also have reduced quality of life and shorter life expectancy.” Not to mention they are more prone to diabetes.
Unfortunately, the problem of pet obesity is being approached all wrong! Veterinary professionals prescribe high carbohydrate dry kibble "reducing diets" and tell pet owners to feed less calories per day. While feeding less calories seems like a great idea, it may actually contribute to the problem.
The less calories taken in, the more the metabolism slows down. The body will adapt, the pet will feel sluggish, and the weight persists. According to a major study, low carbohydrate diets help maintain normal body weight. Adults who cut carbohydrates from their diets and replaced them with fat sharply increased their metabolisms. The people who ate low carbohydrate diets were able to consume over 200 calories per day more than the people eating moderate carbohydrate diets without gaining weight.
The pet food industry has been packing pet food with carbohydrates because they are cheaper ingredients than meat proteins. Many consumers do not understand that a grain-free diet is still a high carbohydrate diet. Legumes such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas, as well as potatoes, are all carbohydrates, just like grains. While they do provide some protein, they are mostly starch.
So if you have a "fat cat" or "chubby puppy", please decrease the carbohydrates in their diet. Feeding a species-appropriate high meat diet (which will also be higher in fat) will cause your pet to eat less and lose weight without resorting to starvation tactics. Increasing exercise will also increase metabolism and calorie burn.
Don't wait until your pet is diabetic or has horrible arthritis and other inflammatory problems. Change the diet and improve health!
Looking for low-carb treats for your cats and dogs? (Remember, those treat calories add up!)