Veterinarians often find it challenging to discuss weight-loss options with owners of chubby pets. The new Hill’s therapeutic food is formulated with L-carnitine to help a pet burn excess body fat and spare lean muscle mass without depriving pets of needed daily caloric intake. With more than half of dogs and cats deemed overweight or obese, based on a 2011 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, veterinarians often find it challenging to discuss weight-loss options with owners of chubby pets.
Some owners become defensive while others might express frustration in not being able to prevent their pets from overeating.
"Sadly, some owners brag that they have 25-pound cats, so we need to educate them about the role obesity plays in certain diseases like diabetes and arthritis,” says Amy Lowe, DVM, a veterinarian at the Bytown Cat Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Her clinic participated in a recent veterinarian-supervised blinded feeding trial involving 314 cats and dogs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Chubby pets were weighed, measured and exclusively fed the new Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution.
Suzie struts her stuff before and after her weight-loss program.
After 60 days on the food, 96 percent of the dogs and 81 percent of the cats lost weight, a marked improvement over the reported 50 percent success rate for most weight-loss programs, Hill’s officials reported. The new food reduced body fat by 28 percent among the pet participants in two months.
Owners agreed to feed their pets this pet food and to have their pets weighed and examined monthly by their veterinarians.
"This formula has been in development for a number of years, and we are confident that the results Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution produced for these pet owners are only the beginning,” says Janet Donlin, DVM, chief veterinary officer at Hill’s, of Topeka, Kan.
Available in feline and canine versions in dry food, canned food and treats, the new Hill’s therapeutic food is formulated with L-carnitine to help a pet burn excess body fat and spare lean muscle mass without depriving pets of needed daily caloric intake.
Here are stories and reactions from some of the study participants.
At her heaviest, Suzie, a 5-year-old Beagle mix, had more waddle than wiggle, weighing 83 pounds last September. With the guidance of the veterinary staff at Biddeford Animal Hospital in Biddeford, Maine, owner Beth Moyer began feeding Suzie carefully measured portions of the Metabolic dry food. On April 25, Suzie stepped on the scales and weighed 58.8 pounds, a loss of 24.2 pounds.
"It is like I have a different dog,” says Moyer. "Suzie was a tank of a dog before and was preoccupied with the need to eat. She would get into the kitchen garbage and even eat nonfood. But now, she has so much more energy, and we’ve had to adjust her harness three times because it became so loose.”
Billed as a feline chowhound by his owner, Wealthie Perry of Biddeford, Chucky, a black domestic medium-haired cat, began eating Metabolic last October. At the veterinary clinic, Chucky weighed 16.6 pounds. On April 23, the 6-year-old cat had slimmed to 12.6 pounds.
"This was the easiest plan to follow—they even give you the measuring scoop and instructions,” says Perry. "He still needs to get down to about 9 pounds, but he looks so good now.”
David Fernandez, DVM, of the Stone Oak Veterinary Clinic in San Antonio, had a heart-to-heart talk with Michael Militana about his obese Viszla, Atticus. "At his heaviest, Atticus weighed 102 pounds, and he looked more like a Rhodesian Ridgeback than a slim Viszla. It was shocking,” he says. "But we worked closely with Michael, and Atticus was recently weighed at 76.9 pounds and looks terrific.”
Adds Militana, "When Atticus was heavy, he had a hard time getting into the cab of my Ford 150 truck, and now he climbs right in. He runs a lot more, has more energy and enjoys swimming in our pool.
Within 60 days of switching Malakai to feline Metabolic, owner Chris Zakrewski of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, says his 3-year-old cat has shed 2.5 pounds and now weighs 18.5 pounds. "His ideal weight is 16 pounds, and he is slowly but steadily losing the excess pounds,” says Zakrewski.
Adds his veterinarian, Susan Little, DVM, of the Bytown Cat Hospital in Ottawa, "We have tested this food on several cats at our practice. The cats seem to like it, and it seems to work well. We recommend that cats lose 0.5 to 1 percent of their starting body weigh, per week.”
Hill’s provides interested veterinarians an e-tool at HWP.HillsVet.com that aids them in properly weighing and measuring overweight pets, calculating ideal weights, identifying customized feeding plans and offering access to tools to monitor progress and help clients stay on track.
More Trial Results
The Hill’s weight-loss trial included 159 dogs representing 58 breeds weighing between 5.5 and 249 pounds as well as 155 cats representing eight breeds weighing between 9.5 and 27 pounds. The average weekly rate of weight loss was 0.8 percent for dogs and 0.5 percent for cats.
In a survey of owners, 68 percent reported that this was an easy way for their pet to lose weight; 65 percent agreed that Metabolic kept their pet feeling full; and 80 percent said they would recommend this formula to friends who have overweight pets
Arden Moore is the founder of FourLeggedLife.com and host of the "Oh Behave” Show on Pet Life Radio.com.