January 31, 2017

Weight Management Techniques for Dogs and Cats

Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, LVT, CVT, SRA, CCRA, certified veterinary pain practitioner with VetMedTeam, LLC., describes different techniques to weight management in both dogs and cats. 
By American Veterinarian Editorial Staff
Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, LVT, CVT, SRA, CCRA, certified veterinary pain practitioner with VetMedTeam, LLC., describes different techniques to weight management in both dogs and cats.


 
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
 
“Weight management for dogs and cats is going to be very similar to humans. What you’re dealing with is you’re dealing with an animal, whether it’s a human animal or whether it’s a companion animal or any mammal. If they’re overweight, basically what you’ve got is they’re eating more calories than they’re expending in energy. And so, when you’re dealing with this you’re actually going to be thinking along the same lines. You’re going to be wanting to increase the energy expenditure—with some of these animals they have been doing nothing except laying around sleeping and eating because they can’t get up and move. With them you want to reduce the calories, you want to increase mobility, you want to get them up and exercising—it can be very simple exercises.
 
With cats, one of the easiest things to get them to do is to walk in an underwater treadmill. In an underwater treadmill, the water helps to displace gravity, so what it’s doing is it’s easy on the joints, it’s less concussive, and you don’t have gravity pressing down on the body because the body is buoyant. Walking in an underwater treadmill, you can have animals that are obese that actually like it because it’s not hurting when they’re moving so much, that might be one of the first things you do with them.
 
You can also do range of motion with them, you can do massage, you can do laser therapy for pain—things that it’s not going to be getting them up and doing something active. When you’re starting with them, just like with a person, you have to start very slowly. You can’t send a person out to run 5 miles if they’ve never run in their life—you could kill them! So, with the animal it’s the same thing. You have to have very short repetitions for exercise programs. You may only get 2 or 3 done, but you want the animal to feel happy and positive that you’re praising it and saying, “This is wonderful!” I will say also with these animals, they must have adequate pain management. Any animal that is painful many times because of being obese—their joints are painful, they hurt, they don’t want to do things to have the pain be worse—it’s very important that the veterinarian has an analgesic program for the animal prior to starting physical rehabilitation.”  
 

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