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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

Nutrition and Weight Loss Tips for Healthy Pets

By Ava S., SVVH Student Intern


(with edits by Kelsey G., Marketing Manager)


June is the month of Nutrition and Weight Loss at Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital, so let's kick it off with helpful tips and tricks to keep our furry friends healthy!


Providing a Healthy Diet for Cats


First, we want to guarantee that our pets are eating the proper amount and type of food for their species and weight. For our feline friends, they need to get their preferable dietary needs, which mostly includes healthy proteins. 


Cat sitting on a deck looking at the camera
Ava's 7-year-old cat, Daisy!

Most cats enjoy salmon, tuna, and shrimp, but they can also have chicken and lamb. It is not recommended to feed cats a plant-based protein diet as they cannot digest it efficiently, leading to digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea. Finally, it’s best for cats to eat cooked and/or unprocessed food as this can highly improve their overall protein levels. 


Most cats require about 30% of their dietary calories to come from protein to fuel their bodies and nervous systems. This also helps them to grow hair continuously and ensure a functioning immune system. To maintain a healthy weight for a 8-9 lbs cat, for example, the cat should eat about a ⅓ - ½ cup of food per day. We strongly recommend following the food chart provided on your pet’s bag of food. Otherwise, we encourage you to speak with our veterinary team for assistance. 


Obesity in Cats


Obesity in cats is a very common issue that is often overlooked. Don’t forget that there are many risks associated with obesity, such as excess fat, shortened life span, weakened immune system, diabetes, faster degeneration of affected joints, and cancer.


If you are concerned about your cat’s weight, you can try an at-home test by feeling their ribs to assess their body fat. If the ribs feel like the back of your hand, your cat is in great body condition. If the ribs feel like your knuckles, or stick out like knuckles, your cat is too thin. If the ribs feel like the palm of your hand, your cat is overweight. Should your cat feel too thin or overweight, bring them over to Stream Valley to begin a weight maintenance plan for them!


The most important step to avoid in helping your cat lose weight is reducing their food intake. This can lead to malnutrition, which will cause a number of health issues. It is best to consult with your veterinarian before starting them on a new diet. Some veterinary-approved foods we recommend are Hills® Prescription Diet Metabolic, Royal Canin® Satiety Support Weight Management, and Purina Overweight Management®. 

After you and your veterinarian determine a proper meal plan, you can also discuss how to work treats into their diet where applicable. It is important to stick to this meal plan to properly manage your cat's healthy weight loss journey. We want our kitties to be able to lay in their boxes with no trouble, so let’s give them a proper diet so that they can do so! 


Nutritional Guidelines for Dogs


Dogs are omnivores, which means they can have meat and plant-based foods in their diets. Since they are often larger than cats and get more exercise with walks, chasing squirrels, mailmen and more, they require a specific meal plan to keep them healthy. 


A well-balanced diet for dogs depends on their stage in life, but they still require an appropriate amount of minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, and specific essential fatty acids. These are needed to build and maintain tissue as well as carrying out biological reactions. This provides them the opportunity to stay healthy and strong so that they are able to carry around big sticks on their walks!


Please note that raw diets or complex carbohydrates such as uncooked grains are not recommended for their consumption. Uncooked foods can contain harmful bacteria which pose a risk not only for your dog, but as well as for owners who prepare it. Your veterinarian has the tools and knowledge to help you determine the best diet for your dog, so it’s best to speak with them on this topic.


Goldendoodle puppy sitting on a patterned carpet inside

When choosing food for your dog, read the ingredients on the label. If you are unfamiliar with any ingredients, select a different food or ask your veterinarian. The calorie intake for dogs is small, about 300 calories maximum per day for a 20 lbs dog is recommended. This varies based on the weight of your dog, but this requires constant monitoring and isn't always feasible. In this case, please ask our team for an estimate on how many calories your dog needs based on their weight, typical exercise and body condition score.


Let's start your pet on the path to a healthy and nutritious lifestyle! Give us a call at (703) 723-1017 to schedule an appointment with our veterinary team and learn more on our website at https://www.streamvalleyvet.com/nutritional-counseling.



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