by: Dr. Carrie Uehlein
Yes, you’ve heard it before, and I’ll tell you again. You can not out-exercise a bad diet. Studies have shown there is no significant difference in weight loss between people who change their diet and increase exercise versus people who change their diet alone. So, as you are killing yourself on your Peloton every day, you still shouldn’t treat your hard work with pizza. Not fair!
So how does this relate to our pets? I hear the same thing on the phone when I talk to pet parents about their obese dogs and cats. They say “Well, it has been too cold so we haven’t walked a lot” or “It’s too hot outside to go for long walks” or “I try to use a laser pointer to get my cat moving but he just lays on the couch”. While all these things are likely true (especially the part about the cat not doing something you want him to do), the truth of weight loss is that it is 90% food and 10% exercise. Our pets cannot order DoorDash and are unable to sneak into the pantry to snack at midnight. They eat what we provide for them and even with the best intentions, our food choices for our pets can make them fat.
We all have different metabolisms, right? As do our pets. You may have had a dog who was thin and ate 3 cups of dry food every day of his life and your similarly sized dog now is only eating 1 cup of food per day and still obese. Even if you took your dog now on 5 mile runs every day, he would still be heavy and barely eating. The trick to weight loss in our pets is also very similar to people… minimal processed and whole foods. I do not recommend prescription diets that are full of fiber to make your cat feel fuller but poop a lot more. I recommend getting your cat on strictly canned food and adding real meat for snacks.
A change in diet by decreasing kibble and increasing canned, freeze-dried, or real food is what will get your dog to drop those unwanted pounds. We can help you with those options if you want to start cooking food for your pet or you are so overwhelmed in the pet store while you stare at all the freeze-dried options.
We still want you to keep walking your dog and playing with your cat! It is great for their mental health and overall behavior but just don’t depend on exercise to help with weight loss. Remember, weight loss is 90% food and 10% exercise!t