Tag: obesity

Weight Management – A Pet Owner’s Perspective

Guest Post by Kelly Harding


I recently posted about my visit to Royal Canin Canada where I spoke to a group of veterinarians about how I felt as a pet owner being told I had an obese pet, how I reacted and what I did about it.  My post did not go into detail or answer any of the below questions, I only wrote about my experience on this day.  Dr. Ryan Llera asked if I would discuss in detail what it was I told the vets attending the weight management session, in the hopes it would help others understand what I did, what I didn’t do, and why.

Why I didn’t take my vet’s recommendation the first time I was confronted with Edie needing to lose weight?

before side view

Edie before losing weight

I was aware that Edie was getting larger, bigger, yes, fatter.  But when it was suggested “the first time” that I should switch her food to a product that would address her weight, her constant hunger and begging for food I hesitated.  I believed I could manage it on my own and thought I could continue to give her the same food, the food that I still had almost a full bag of at home, but just give her less.  I also felt that if Edie was still hungry I could just supplement her with carrots and green beans.  And largely, I couldn’t see how changing to a different food, a food that I now had to purchase from my vet’s office, would make any difference

What made me change my mind?

Edie’s begging and constant demanding of food!!  Not entirely, but it was a large part because she always seemed hungry.  She seemed frustrated by my restrictions on her food and I also became desperate as she began to scratch furniture and dig up carpets until she got food.  There just never seemed to be enough green bean or carrots to satisfy her!  The final straw was that Edie’s weight continued to climb.

What didn’t work for Edie’s weight loss?

I couldn’t keep up and thought I could manage Edie’s weight loss on my own but it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

weight management in progress

Before, during, & after the journey

What did work for Edie’s weight loss?

Well, if you’ve seen recent photos of Edie, you know that we’ve since succeeded in getting her weight to a healthy level.  Ultimately, I took my vet’s advice.  I switched Edie to a prescribed food (Royal Canin Satiety Support) that addressed her weight issues and her need to feel satisfied.  Aside from the food change, learning how much was the right amount to feed Edie (weighing and measuring food portions properly) was key.  And of course, taking Edie in to my vet’s office for regular weigh-ins so that she could be monitored.

How did Edie’s vet support me and make me feel comfortable with the decisions that I made along the way?

Although my vet had mentioned Edie’s weight on a couple of occasions, she never made me feel bad for not doing it earlier.  I was embarrassed enough about Edie’s weight but my veterinarian never did anything to embarass me further.  While most people focus on the numbers on the scale, my vet never overwhelmed me with the big picture (need to lose 10 or 12lbs).  We boiled it down to taking small steps, each weigh-in at a time.  I was welcomed and encouraged to drop in to have Edie weighed anytime.  Each loss was a success, no matter how small!  Veterinarians assess each patient and give them a Body Condition Score (BCS) so the numbers are often just a measurable goal but as weight loss happens, the endpoint of an ideal BCS could change.

Things that helped me along the way and my tips for you:

  • Ask your vet for a weight chart print out.  My vet was able to print out a chart that documented Edie’s weight starting with her very first vet visit.  Seeing the weight climb to its highest was an eye opener; seeing it reduce to a healthier weight was encouraging
  • Have your vet teach you how to do a body condition score on your pet.  There may be a time when you think your pet has lost enough weight, but learning to “feel” your pet’s body helps to understand
  • Pictures!  Take lots and lots of pictures of your pet!  I can’t stress this enough!  When you’re with your pet day in and day out you can’t always see what your pet “really” looks like.  Take photos from all angles.  Take photos from above to see if your pet has a waist.  Compare the photos over time and if you are like me, you will be surprised, shocked and amazed by the changes along the way.
successful weight management

Edie at a healthy weight!

I finally started to notice a difference in Edie’s attitude and hunger issues within a month of being on Satiety Support.  The begging, the scratching of furniture, the digging up of carpets subsided.  Edie became more content and of course that made me happier and encouraged. The Satiety Support was working just as my vet said and Edie lost 1.3kg/2.86lbs in the first 4 months!  We were on our way.  Today, Edie is a healthier, happier dog, weighing in at 9.3kg.

Have you ever been told by your vet your pet needs to lose weight?  What did you do about it?


Kelly Harding is the human at the end of Edie the Pug’s leash.  She is better known as “Edie’s Humom” and is the voice behind Edie the Pug.  Kelly acts as typist for Edie the Pug on her blog and social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

All opinions about Edie, her weight loss journey and how it affected Edie’s health are Kelly’s own personal experience.  Edie has been on Royal Canin products since she was a puppy and continues to be on Royal Canin Satiety Support Small Dog dry and  Satiety wet.  Edie is an Ambassador to Royal Canin Canada, but this in no way influences Kelly’s opinions of the product.  Edie is, and always has, monitored by her veterinarian to ensure her health, her healthy weight loss and maintenance.

When Indulge Leads to Bulge

When Indulge Leads to Bulge


Obie at his beginning weight

Obie at his beginning weight

Have you heard of Obie the dachshund?  You know, the one who tipped the scales at 77 pounds (35 kilograms) when an average dachshund weighs 16-32 pounds (7.3-15 kg).  Fortunately, Obie has lost weight and is living a much healthier life now.  One of the biggest health problems facing pets these days is the struggle with weight and obesity.  Sure, we as veterinarians up north make some allowances in the springtime as we expect a lot of pets gain weight over the winter.  With the extra long and harsh winter here in Kingston, Ontario this year I know I did and now I’m working to lose what weight I put on.  Strangely, our dogs & cats did not put on weight.  So what’s our secret?  No, it’s not removing Charlie’s spleen that helped keep him thin.  It really is common sense but part of a larger overall plan.


Part 1: EXERCISE – Spring and summer are the time of year for everyone, including the family pet, to get out and be active.  I think many people can be guilty of a little too much couch time (I’ll confess I have been) or not getting Fido out as much due to heat.  There is a movement by the National Football League (NFL) to get kids outside to play 60 minutes a day and be active.  So is 30-60 minutes too much to ask for your dog?  Just be sure to take along a travel bowl and some water if you plan on any outdoor excursions.


Work it kitty!  Burn those calories!!

Work it kitty! Burn those calories!!

Part 2: MEDICAL – Very commonly, when we discuss weight problems with your cat or dog, it is usually due to them being too thin or losing weight and this is typically related to a medical issue such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or cancer.  But what about the other side of the coin when your pet seems to have put on a little extra weight?  There are some medical conditions that will cause weight gain, or give the appearance of it.  If your pet is gaining or losing weight, it is necessary for your veterinarian to examine them to help rule out medical issues in formulating a weight management plan.dog on scale

The most common is hypothyroidism which tends to affect middle age to older dogs where metabolism is decreased by a lack of thyroid hormones.  Another disease that may give the appearance of weight gain is hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) where an increased level of the hormone cortisol leads to muscle weakening of the abdominal muscles and subsequent abdominal distension or a pot bellied appearance.  For cats, abdominal distension (if not due to weight gain), is often a sign of fluid accumulation due to heart or liver disease for example.


Hills_Measuring_Cup_CatPart 3: FOOD CHOICE & PORTIONS (this is the most important part!!!) – Two things I stress with all my clients are counting calories and measure food portions.  Many people choose to use a “weight control” diet from an over the counter brand.  Unfortunately, not every brand lowers the calories significantly or their general maintenance diets are quite high to begin with.  But more often the issue is how pets are being fed.  Oftentimes, multiple people are helping to feed the pets, animals are free fed (just leaving a bowl out), or portions are not measured.  This can lead to overfeeding and the dreaded weight gain.  “But doctor, it’s impossible to feed my pets separately” or “If I don’t feed him, he cries all the time” are two common responses I get during this discussion.  Overfeeding is typically all that needs to be corrected to help your pet slim down.


Step 1: Always measure the food.  Your vet will often have plastic measuring cups from food companies they will give you so you can leave it in the bag.

Step 2: Discuss with your veterinarian the amount of calories your pet needs to maintain or lose weight and strictly adhere to it.

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

Step 3: Whether you have one pet or five pets, make them have a set mealtime.  Don’t give in and let them snack when they cry out.  If you have multiple pets, close one in the bathroom, one in a bedroom, get a baby gate…whatever, just separate them so that one pet is not overeating while another gets shortchanged.  To adjust your free-fed pet to mealtimes, I recommend giving them 20-30 minutes with the food twice a day then pick it up.  Your pets will learn quickly that this is the time to eat.

Step 4: Limit treats and avoid table foods.


You may find that if you do nothing more than follow the 4 steps above, your pet can lose weight!  You may not even have to change food which is particularly useful for those picky eaters.  Help your cat or dog fight the battle against pet obesity!


Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for a conversation with your veterinarian and regular medical care.


Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

To Spay or Not to Spay…Spay please!

Spaying Has It’s Benefits (more than just keeping pets out of shelters)


So you love your cat or dog?  You paid a lot of money for that purebred too right?  And you want to have them or a part of them around forever?   Oh, and you have kids of your own?  Great, let’s get to work breeding your pet so that you can get some money back from selling puppies, have a new puppy from your dog, and let your kids see new kittens or puppies being born!

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad


Alright, now forget everything you just read and prepare for the truth.  Those are all the excuses I often hear when discussing spaying and neutering pets.  Many pet owners will commit to “fixing” one of their pets but not both.  The usual factors are cost, machismo, or just not being fully aware of the risks.  For now, we’re just going to focus on the girls, with particular attention to the health aspect…we’ll get to the boys later.  Even though your dog or cat may be an “only” dog or always indoors, there are still more reasons to have her spayed than to leave her intact.  There is currently a pet over-population crisis where hundreds of thousands of animals wait in shelters for someone to take them home, or in too many cases, they are euthanized.  Aside from saving lives by spaying your animals, there are many other splendid reasons to do this kind gesture for your pets.


So, you think people are the only ones who get breast cancer?  Guess again.  Intact dogs and cats are also prone to mammary cancer.  While in dogs it has a 50-50 chance of being malignant, in cats there is a 90% chance of malignancy.  Aside from malignancy, these tumors can burst open causing pain and infection.  If they are spayed before their first heat cycle, these cats & dogs have a significantly reduced chance of developing these tumors.  A spay surgery, properly called an ovariohysterectomy, removes the entire uterus and ovaries.  This also eliminates the chance of ovarian cysts or cancers as well.


Now imagine a large abscess developing inside your furry loved one’s belly.  When it involves the uterus, we get to use the icky word “pyometra.”  If your pet is draining from its’ vulvar area, this is better than no drainage but still not a

A pus filled uterus I removed

A pus filled uterus I removed

good thing.  If the uterus is not draining, your cat or dog will get sick quicker as the bacteria invades the bloodstream and in the worst cases, the uterus can pop like a balloon.  These patients often present to the veterinarian for vomiting, lethargy, a decreased appetite, or increased drinking & urination.  Ultimately, the best way to fix this is surgery which is riskier and also more costly than a routine spay.


My dad called me the other night.  A stray cat had followed him home and she looked pregnant.  A few days later, he called me back saying “There’s some blood coming out of the back end.”  A minute later, “There’s a large bubble coming out now!”  “Congrats! It’s a girl!,” I jokingly told him.  Fortunately, she delivered all 6 kittens that night without the need for a c-section.  Yep, you heard me; people aren’t the only ones who need c-sections!  And wouldn’t you know it; these things always happen at 3am on a Sunday morning.  Then don’t forget dewormings and first vaccinations after they’re born.  These things all do cost money so that should be taken into account before considering breeding your pet.

Bottle feeding at 2am

Bottle feeding at 2am

Kittens & puppies can be a lot of work, and much like a newborn child, can include nights of little to no sleep.  Then comes finding homes because face it, 2-3 cats can be difficult to manage, but 7-9 is even more a difficult.  With all of the stories you may hear of pet over-population and shelters that do not follow a “no-kill” policy, it just makes sense to do this simple act to help our domesticated animals.  Below you will see a cat who had a pyometra and her family could not afford to treat her and they were left with the unfortunate choice of euthanasia.  Luckily for this young girl, were were able to find a foster home for her but she is a rare case as most of these patients do not get a second chance.  I hope I’ve laid out the facts enough so that informed and well thought out decisions can be made for the health of your pets as well as any that may follow you home.  UPDATE: Check out my revised spay/neuter position.  Please sound off in the comments if you have anything to add or if I’ve forgotten something!  Thanks again for reading, share if you like, and be sure to check back often for more posts!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!