I remember when my daughter Claire came home from her freshman year in college. She asked me how much I weighed. I was in bike racing form at the time and weighed in at only 138lbs. When I told Claire how much I weighed she said, simply,"Oh," and walked away.
I found out why she asked when she came home for Christmas that same year. She had out weighed me by eight pounds in May when she got home for the summer.
I remember she started Weight Watchers that spring, after her freshman year. She changed her diet and her eating patterns. She continued to exercise, as she has always been an athlete.
She weighed 125 lbs when she got home for Christmas. Through changing what and how she ate, Claire managed to lose 21 lbs in seven months.
Last Saturday, Claire won the women's division of our annual Wilderness Trail Run. She still weighs about 125 - and she's healthy and happy.
The moral of this story is that you can lose weight and keep it off. And by making the same changes in diet and activity level we can help our pets lose weight, too.
In fact I use Claire's success story whenever I talk about pet weight loss. And I do it for a reason besides the obvious proud papa angle.
The statistics on obesity for pets mirror those of their owners. According to a study I read recently, when pet owners embark on a weight loss program with their pets, the program is more successful than when either try alone.
There are any number of weight loss plans for people. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are two programs with proven track records. There are other programs online that offer diet and exercise programs that allow one to track progress and see results. [and, note from yvonne... even hypnosis!]
Purina has a special diet; PVD OM formula, and a special program available through vets to help ensure success. You can go it alone, but these programs help. And having a partner or weight loss buddy - i.e. your dog or cat, really helps.
One reason it is so difficult for some people and pets to lose weight is genetic. Some people and pets are much more efficient in energy metabolism than others. Only recently, say the last fifty years, has this evolutionary trait caused more harm than good.
Back in the day, when we were hunters and gatherers we didn't have constant access to food. We had to literally work our butts off to secure enough calories to maintain our weight. That's obviously not the case any more. We have 24/7 access to cheap calories and our culture does not encourage physical activity. So, a highly adaptable trait in the past - efficient use of calories, becomes mal-adaptive in our modern society.
Certain breeds, Labs, Dachshunds, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, to name a few, have this mal-adaptive trait and are prone to obesity. When we restrict calories in these breeds their metabolism slows in response. They go into starvation mode and it takes fewer calories to maintain their weight.
This is where the PVD OM vet weight loss program comes into play. Purina provides software to vets that takes into account the ability of some pets to alter metabolism in response to calorie restriction. It's really a big improvement in weight loss.
The software calculates how much weight a dog should lose, based on the initial calorie recommendation. This initial recommendation is based on an estimation your vet will make of what the dog's ideal weight should be.
When you bring your pet back to the vet for weigh-ins, this information is put into the program. The software picks up any discrepancy between the estimated weight loss and the actual weight loss. If your pet's metabolism is slowing in reaction to the suggested calorie restriction and has not lost the anticipated amount of weight, the program re-calculates a new calorie recommendation. This allows you and your vet to stay one step ahead of your pet's ability to alter it's metabolism that can foil the weight loss plan.
So, when you take your pet in for her annual physical exam ask your vet about your pet's weight. If she's more than 15% above ideal, it's time for a plan. And, if you could stand to lose a few pounds too, make a pact with your pet to do it together.
Statistically, you'll be more successful together and you'll both be better off for the effort.