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Ridiculous Pet Weight Loss Products Continue to Flood the Market

Story at-a-glance
  • Pet food manufacturers continue to try convince consumers their too-heavy dogs and cats can lose weight by being stuffed full of grains and fiber-filled pet food.
  • The goal of many pet weight management formulas is to create a temporary feeling of fullness in dogs and cats so they won’t beg for food. This takes the heat off owners who don’t want to say no to a begging pet.
  • One company has even gone so far as to invent a bizarre ingredient that when added to pet food impedes digestion so the animal feels full longer.
  • And the gimmicks being employed! There’s a ‘meal replacement’ drink for cats that contains not a scrap of animal protein. And then there’s the ‘weight management’ dog food loaded with seven different kinds of grains and a special ‘fat-burning’ ingredient.
  • Parents of overweight pets would be wise to steer clear of the ever-evolving gimmicky ‘weight loss’ products appearing on store shelves. Almost without exception, these formulas contain as much if not more of exactly the type of food that is making pets fat in the first place.

By Dr. Becker

As pets keep getting fatter, pet food companies get ever more creative developing ‘weight management’ formulas to peddle to uninformed consumers.

It’s a discouraging trend, since most of these special formulas consist of the same inappropriate, low quality ingredients that contribute to pet obesity in the first place.

And in fact, these foods actually contain more of exactly the wrong type of nutrition for overweight pets … or any pet.

The Goal: Fool Pets into Thinking They’re Full

According to PetfoodIndustry.com, one of the goals of pet food companies is to develop formulas for overweight dogs and cats that create a feeling of fullness or satisfaction.

Per the article, inducing satiety is important because, "… as long as the pet doesn’t act hungry we will be less likely to give in and overindulge begging behavior."

And according to one pet food manufacturer, studies show overweight dogs fed ‘fiber-enhanced’ foods consume fewer calories and appear less hungry.

So if I understand this correctly, the goal is to stuff carnivorous dogs and cats full of species-inappropriate fiber rich food so they won’t act hungry, and in turn, their owners won’t overindulge them.

This thinking is so wrong on so many levels I’m not sure where to begin.

Let’s just say I’m adamantly opposed to intentionally feeding companion animals biologically inappropriate nutrition, so their owners don’t have to deal with begging behavior or the temptation to overfeed their pets.

Certainly if we have an overweight pet we can find the energy and ambition to feed our dog or cat the nutrition she was designed to eat, in reasonable portions?

And certainly we can muster the patience to ignore begging behavior (which is typically temporary when ignored) for the sake of our pet’s health?

But Wait … It Gets Better …

Another pet food company has created a ‘satiety-triggering ingredient’ which they say reduces calorie intake in pets.

This magical ingredient is described by its manufacturer as a "patented emulsion of highly purified palm and oat oils." What this emulsion does is delay digestion of the fat in the food. This leads to the presence of free fatty acids in the small intestine.

When food is ‘delayed’ in the small intestine, it slows down gastric emptying and gut motility. According to the manufacturer of the ‘satiety-triggering ingredient,’ this permits better digestion of gut contents (hogwash) while creating a feeling of fullness and reducing appetite.

So if I understand this correctly, certain oils can be added to certain pet foods that are designed to significantly impede the normal, natural digestive process of dogs and cats.

And this is, again, for the purpose of creating pets that don’t act hungry, and therefore run less risk of being overfed by their owners.

Certainly we don’t need to feed bizarre, unnatural ingredients to our pets that gum up their intestines and interfere with normal digestion in an effort to help them lose weight?

More Gimmickry

The PetfoodIndustry.com article also mentions another company’s ‘meal replacement and food supplement’ to help adult cats maintain a healthy weight.

A meal replacement for cats?

Needless to say, I had to take a look at the ingredients in this meal replacement/food supplement. It’s apparently a powder you mix with warm water. The ingredients:

Maltodextrins, dried milk protein concentrate, dried whey protein concentrate, canola oil, casein, vanilla, fructooligosaccharide, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dicalcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin supplement, copper gluconate, vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, biotin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement.

So this is a ‘meal replacement’ intended for obligate carnivores that contains not a speck of animal protein. How is that not an absolutely terrible idea?

And then we have a ‘weight management’ food for dogs being promoted for its L-carnitine ingredient, which is touted as a "proven fat-burner that helps dogs naturally burn fat instead of storing it."

L-carnitine may help burn fat, but when the food it’s added to has seven different grains listed in the first dozen ingredients, making the formula wildly inappropriate nutrition for dogs at any weight, the addition of the L-carnitine isn’t going to matter one iota.

Parents of Overweight Pets Beware

For the sake of your beloved, overfed four-legged companion, I recommend the following:

  • Beware any pet food marketing ploy aimed at making you believe the newest grain and fiber-filled bag of pet food is the answer to your dog’s or cat’s obesity. It isn’t.
  • Beware any pet food marketing gimmick that names a specific ingredient (example: L-carnitine) as being the secret key to your pet’s weight loss. It won’t be.
  • Beware any pet food marketing scheme that uses human diet buzz words (‘meal replacement’) to convince you the same nutritional principles apply to your pet. They don’t.
  • Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet to your pet. Regardless of her weight, your dog or cat still needs the right nutrition for her species, which means food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low or no grain content.
  • Practice portion control — usually a morning and evening meal, carefully measured. A high protein, low carb diet with the right amount of calories for weight loss, controlled through the portions you feed, is what will take the weight off your dog or cat. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats.
  • Regularly exercise your pet. An overweight body gets back in shape by taking in fewer calories and expending more energy. Daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of consistent aerobic activity, will help your pet burn fat and increase muscle tone.

The key to getting and keeping your pet lean and healthy can’t be found in the latest bag or can of inferior quality, species-inappropriate pet food, no matter how slick and convincing the marketing campaign.

The key to keeping your dog or cat nutritionally fit at the cellular level is with a high protein, moisture rich diet fed in controlled portions, and augmented with plenty of physical activity.

Source: PetfoodIndustry.com December 5, 2011  -  Cross-posted at Dr. Mercola.com

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February 24, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Six Ways to Whittle Your Pet’s Waistline

Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:52 by Dr. Jane

Dr Jane BicksAccording to a 2009 study published by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 34 million dogs and 54 million cats are classified as overweight. Sadly, these staggering numbers continue to rise. Just like in humans, obesity is now the biggest health threat to pets in the U.S. Excess weight lowers metabolism, increases appetite and can worsen other medical conditions, such as arthritis and respiratory problems.

If your pet needs surgery, extra fat can make it more difficult for a surgeon to operate and increase the chances of complications with anesthesia. With nearly half the nation’s pet population afflicted with weight issues, chances are you or someone you know has a pet that is affected. Here are six tips to help your pet shed unwanted pounds and keep the weight off for good.

1. Increased Awareness

There are two main causes of obesity in pets: too many calories and too little exercise. Secondary factors can also come into play, such as genetic factors of a given breed or the sex of the animal. A quick online search will reveal whether or not your breed is prone to weight gain. And be aware that neutered, middle-aged and female pets are more likely to have weight issues.

The discouraging fact is that many pet parents accept their overweight pets as ‘normal’, or deny the problem altogether, making the problem less likely to be addressed.

Weight is not always the best indicator due to individual variation. For example, one Doberman may be trim at 70 pounds and another trim at 90. In addition, a drooping stomach does not always mean an animal is fat, especially in cats. The best way to determine whether or not your pet is overweight is to have your veterinarian do an assessment.

2. Change Your Lifestyle

Let’s face it … far too many Americans lead sedentary lifestyles, and their pets are following suit. It is no secret that we like to sit and eat at the same time, so if we are going to help ourselves and our pets avoid becoming the next victims of the obesity epidemic, we need to get everybody moving more and eating less.

Realize that everything your pet eats has calories – yes, including treats – so you can begin to reduce calories right away simply by providing low-calorie treats, such as Life’s Abundance’s Wholesome Hearts.

Increasing exercise is good for everybody. Long walks and playing fetch are good ways to bond with your dog, and you can get your cat moving with a feather wand or a laser pointer. Here’s a fun tip: cats love to chase small balls. Throw five or six little balls around and watch the fun … retrieve all the balls at once if you want to minimize your trips across the room.

3. Feed Frequent Small Meals and Measure Amounts

Did you know that every time you eat, you burn calories? The same is true for our companion animals. So measure the food amount for the whole day and divide it into several smaller meals. You can also feed a low-calorie treat or vegetable in between each small meal. It is vital that you measure the food, even if you free-feed. If your pet needs to lose weight, you can reduce portions by 30% without jeopardizing your pet’s health.

Remember that when pets beg for a treat, often what they really want is attention. Instead of a treat, how about a hug or a nice grooming session?

Consider supplementing a cat or small dog’s diet with canned food. Canned food often has a high moisture content, which helps your companion animal feel full with fewer calories. Remember to keep the overall calorie count consistent, even if you change their diet.

If you begin a weight-loss regimen and don’t see any results within two weeks, be sure to discuss other options with your veterinarian.

4. Keep Records

Food journals are not only very effective weight-management tools for people, they are for pets, too. Start by keeping records for seven days, tracking everything that you feed your companion animals. We often don’t realize how much we are really feeding until we see it mapped out.

5. Weight-Loss Medication

The FDA recently approved Slentrol, a weight-loss medication approved for canine use. The exact mechanism of this drug remains unknown, but researchers believe that it helps suppress the appetite and inhibit the absorption of fat. If you have tried all other options and still aren’t having success, or if your dog’s weight is putting his health in jeopardy, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about this new pharmaceutical offering.

6. Dietary Supplements

Many hormones can be controlled with phytonutrients. Resveratrol, sourced from the skin of grapes, has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, increase metabolic rate, boost physical endurance and reduce fat mass. Quercetin, found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains, has been shown to fight inflammation in obese patients. Leptin is a new hormonal supplement that suppresses appetites and is being used to facilitate weight-loss. Researchers have discovered that diabetic dogs have low levels of leptin, which can lead to overeating. Furthermore, researchers found that by adding leptin to the diet, canine appetites are noticeably suppressed. I caution you to only use these supplements under the supervision of your vet, as the proper dosages vary from animal to animal (for example, leptin can at certain dosages have the opposite effect, actually increasing appetites).

With a little bit of effort, a minimal investment in time and big helpings of love and patience, you can help your companion animal lose excess weight and maximize their chances for a longer, healthier and happier lifetime.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for your dear companions.

Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

References

Kelly GS. A review of the sirtuin system, its clinical implications, and the potential role of dietary activators like resveratrol: part 2. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):313-28.

Stewart LK, Soileau JL, Ribnicky D, Wang ZQ, Raskin I, Poulev A, Majewski M, Cefalu WT, Gettys TW. Quercetin transiently increases energy expenditure but persistently decreases circulating markers of inflammation in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7 Suppl 1):S39-46.

Nishii N, Yamasaki M, Takasu M, Honjoh T, Shibata H, Otsuka Y, Takashima S, Ohba Y, Kitagawa H. Plasma leptin concentration in dogs with diabetes mellitus. J Vet Med Sci. 2010 Jun;72(6):809-11. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

Source:  Life Abundance Newsletter

January 22, 2011 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , | 1 Comment