Let’s face it, no one likes hearing from a veterinarian that their pet has become overweight. While those few extra pounds may make your pet look extra cute, the truth is that lean dogs and cats live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Maintaining a healthy weight has been proven to extend the lifespan of dogs by approximately two years!
Obesity is the number one health problem our pets face today. In the United States, currently over 50% of dogs and 40% of cats are obese. Unfortunately, that is only half the problem, as research shows that only 20% of pet owners realize their pet falls into the obese category.
Weight issues can lead to health concerns like pancreatitis, diabetes, many cancers, skin issues, kidney disease and a compromised immune system. Additionally, disc disease, hip dysplasia, arthritis and ruptured cruciate ligaments can also be exacerbated by carrying extra weight.
One of the best ways to keep your pet’s weight down is exercise, and no…jumping off the couch to bark at the passing mailman doesn’t count! Of course, regular exercise isn’t always so simple as many dogs and cats live a very sedentary life.
While increasing exercise is crucial to weight loss in pets, one of the quickest and simplest changes you can make is finding a healthy diet to help maintain your dog’s weight. But the large number of formulas available can be overwhelming for the pet parent trying to make the right decision. The pet stores in my neighborhood all carry over 20 different dog food formulas that are geared towards maintaining weight or weight reduction.
What Should You Look for in a Weight Control Dog Food?
Simply reading the name of the product will tell you a lot. The names Lean, Light, Lite, or Low Calorie are descriptive names approved by AAFCO that require the formula to be low fat or have lower calories per kilogram. Diets with these descriptive names (such as Annamaet Lean) are also required to list the range of fat in the product, not only as a minimum amount of fat in the diet, but the maximum amount as well. Formulas with names like Healthy Weight, Fit and Trim, Weight Control or Weight Management are not actually approved AAFCO descriptive terms and these diets have no restrictions as far as calories or fat levels. Products with these names are only required to list the minimum amount of fat in the diet.
AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, is a voluntary membership association of federal, state, and local agencies empowered by law to regulate the sale and distribution of pet foods. AAFCO creates and defines regulations for ingredients and pet foods and establish requirements for nutritional adequacy.
Purchasing solely AAFCO-approved diets is an excellent place to start, but the highest quality foods go above and beyond providing “adequate” nutrition. Ultimately, optimum nutrition is the goal for all of us.
Is There a Formula You Recommend?
Annamaet Petfoods has been producing Annamaet Lean Canine formula for almost 10 years. This formula is made with superior ingredients and all the attributes of a weight control diet (high protein, low fat, additional carnitine and omega three fatty acids) without all of the fiber. In addition, we know that there are many dogs out there suffering from problems like pancreatitis and blood lipid issues where a diet like Annamaet Lean may fit the bill. Discuss with your veterinarian whether Annamaet Lean may be helpful in managing these conditions as well.
Annamaet Lean lists a minimum of 7% fat and a maximum of 9% fat. Compare that to a “Healthy Weight” diet on the market that lists a minimum of 11% fat and a maximum of 15% fat, a big difference. At least they list a Maximum fat amount, another “Healthy Weight” diet we see in the marketplace lists only a minimum of 15% fat, who knows what the maximum is. All of this fat leads to more calories in the diet making it harder for your dog to lose that “New Year’s Resolution” weight.
What About Portion Size?
Annamaet provides portion guidelines for dogs with different needs. For those customers that want be able to feed more to their typical, active dogs there are “normal feeding directions” while for those dogs struggling with weight problems, there are “obese prone feeding directions”. Portion size is key in helping to maintain a healthy weight once it is achieved. Of course, all dogs are different and your veterinarian can help you tailor a weight maintenance program using Annamaet Lean.
Healthy weight and body composition does not come easy for all dogs and takes commitment from their owners, but the benefits are certainly worth it! Let’s encourage our pets to start 2021 in the healthiest way possible.
Written by Rob Downey
Founder & CEO of Annamaet Petfoods