Vet Matters – January issue
New Year normally equals new weight goals. In this weighty issue of Vet Matters we share practical tips you can use to help clients achieve weight loss success for their pet. We also unveil why so many of our New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside and how you can make this year’s stick. Lastly, we hear from one well-known vet about her own cat’s weight loss trials and tribulations. Read Vet Matters January Issue . Sign up to our mailing list to get Vet matters sent straight to your inbox.
Pet slimming success rewarded
For many of us, high on our list of New Year’s resolutions will be committing to shed a few mince pie-induced pounds – and, as we know, the benefits of weight loss apply equally to pets; a fact which our two Pet Slimmer of the Year (PSOTY) competition champions can certainly testify to.
Maximising motivation Vets and nurses are becoming all too familiar with the biggest barriers to successful pet slimming – lack of owner compliance and motivation. These are just two of the hurdles which our PSOTY competition helped to overcome by offering a whole host of prizes to the pet owner, veterinary team AND the practice, as well as providing exclusive educational material and a plethora of handy weight loss tools. This meant that participating practices have had no shortage of ways to support, incentivise and reward their clients’ pet slimming success.
Slim it to win it The competition saw 16 regional winners slimmed down - quite literally - to one deserving canine and one feline champion who overcame the odds and triumphed in dropping the pounds. This year, Felix, a 9 year old cat, became the feline winner after losing an impressive 2.7 kg, equating to a weight loss of over 55 % of his body weight. In the canine camp, Tonto, a 6 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, became champion after shedding a substantial 7.1 kg – the equivalent of almost 40 % weight loss.
Both champions were thrilled to win a whopping £1000 worth of shopping vouchers, plus a year’s supply of Metabolic diet. What’s more, the nominating vet nurses and their practices each received £500 worth of coveted shopping vouchers, making sure everyone was rewarded for their endeavours.
New lease of life We’re told that Felix’s weight loss has left him slim and agile, enabling him to climb and explore places he never could before. Having many other rescue cats that need her attention too, Felix’s owner says she enjoys the ease of not having to weigh Metabolic portions precisely. After exceeding his original target, Felix looks amazing and will stay on Metabolic as a maintenance diet, as he really enjoys both the wet and dry formulations.
Before entering PSOTY, Tonto had become a lot more sedentary and had to be lifted into and out of the car. His owners did not notice Tonto's weight increasing and before they knew it he weighed over 17 kg. After being informed by their vet that Tonto was extremely overweight, his owners were keen to get him enrolled onto a weight loss programme, after which things rapidly began to change. Tonto’s owners say they found it quite straightforward to keep to his daily ration of Metabolic food and now Tonto is a lot more active – he can leap into the car and is generally livelier and healthier.
Well done to everyone involved with Felix and Tonto’s triumphs and to all the other successful PSOTY pet slimming practices out there – here at Hill’s we know that achieving weight loss targets for clients’ pets is no mean feat, so we are thrilled to be able to reward everyone’s efforts.
For more information about weight loss support and the range of tools available to you, as well Prescription Diet™ Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution diet, just visit www.hillsvet.co.uk or www.hillsvet.ie Your Hill’s Territory Manager will always be happy to talk through how you can tackle weight management at your practice.
Lighten up! Simple steps for successful weight management
With around one in two pets suffering from obesity, weight management has never been more central to the roles of vets and nurses as Hill’s recent weight management CPD webinar proved. Find out about the key messages from the session and a few simple steps that could help improve your practice weight management programmes.
Far-reaching consequences of fat
It’s no secret that pet obesity has become a rather weighty topic and is one which is showing no signs of shrinking. Hill’s vet speaker, Su O’Neil, kick-started the weight management webinar with some shocking figures which highlighted that since 2006 pet obesity levels have increased by over 30 %.
Rather than being an inert casing which merely insulates a healthy animal, fat is actually a metabolically active substance which puts the animal into a state of chronic inflammation. When animals are overweight, fat cells not only increase in number but they also increase in size, with the subsequent hypertrophy resulting in inadequate nutrition at the centre of the cell and a state of chronic hypoxia.
This results in abnormal hormone production and the release of cytokines such as TNFα which are key drivers of the chronic inflammation that is thought to play a huge part in many of the common diseases that we associate with being overweight, such as arthritis and insulin-resistant diabetes. However, it is not all doom and gloom, as Su emphasised that by reducing the levels of fat, normal hormonal function can be restored.
Not all porky patients are equal
Obesity occurs as a consequence of a discrepancy between energy intake and energy expenditure. However, rather than being solely down to feeding practices and lack of exercise - as many of us assume is the case for most of our veterinary patients - there are many other factors that can contribute to obesity such as genetics, neuter status, sex and concurrent disease. An animal that ticks a lot of these boxes will need fewer calories to become overweight and will need greater calorie restriction to drop the pounds. These predisposing factors also need to be taken into consideration when discussing obesity prevention with clients.
The two phases of weight gain
The webinar then moved on to discuss the physiology behind weight gain. As an animal gets larger, it will eventually reach a new equilibrium where it actually has a greater energy requirement and is not actually ‘overeating’ in the sense that its calorie intake matches what it needs to maintain its current bodyweight. This is why it can be so much harder to lose weight than it is to put it on, as the body will fight hard to preserve this static phase.
Made to measure
Although body condition scoring is widely used for assessing overweight patients, it is actually not a reliable method on which to base overall weight loss targets, especially as more animals go ‘off the scale’. Instead, using a Body Fat Index calculation, or the Healthy Weight Protocol, can give a much more reliable measure. The data can then be input as part of Hill’s Quick Recoonline tool to produce a bespoke nutritional recommendation, or can be calculated through referencing a simple in-practice chart. There’s even a quick and easy Smartphone app for the Healthy Weight Protocol (search for Hill’s Healthy Weight Protocol) which really helps streamline the process, helping you generate accurate targets which are simple to discuss with your client.
When it comes to talking about weekly targets, the message from the webinar was clear; dogs should lose no more than 1-2 % of their body weight per week, whereas the aim for cats be no more than between 0.5 – 1 %. By sticking to this formula, nurses and clinicians can help make sure weight loss occurs at a healthy rate and is sustainable.
The advantages of feeding a specific weight loss food such as Prescription Diet™ Metabolic cannot be underestimated in Su’s opinion. As Metabolic reduces the need for precise measurements of portions and is specifically designed to be nutritionally complete and support lean body tissue, weight loss success is far more likely. In real-world testing, 88% of pets lost weight at home in just two months, which is something that can be discussed with owners to inspire confidence and provide motivation.
To find out more about the Prescription Diet™ Metabolic diet range and the tools available to help you take some simple steps to making your weight management programmes a success, visit www.hillsvet.co.uk or www.hillsvet.ie And for those of you who missed the live webinar, you can watch the webinar recording here.