Obesity is a very common health problem in dogs and cats, with between 22 and 44% of the dog and cat populations in the United States currently overweight or obese. The objective of this study was to determine the range of calorie density and feeding directions for commercially available diets designed for weight management in dogs and cats. Forty-nine feline diets had a weight management claim with feeding directions for weight loss or implied weight management claims. The feeding directions for weight loss were compared with resting energy requirements (RER) for current body weight by use of a standard body weight of 5.5 kg (12 lb) for feline diets. More than half of all foods in the study had a caloric density greater than the AAFCO maximum caloric density for light diets. This would make successfully attaining weight loss without carefully controlling caloric intake difficult. Another problem noted in the study was a wide range in feeding directions and high variability in estimates of calorie requirements for weight loss. Therefore, successful weight loss is unlikely with most diets. Most pets require caloric restriction to less than the RER for current body weight and some must have substantially less than the RER to achieve weight loss. It is always necessary to adjust feeding recommendations for each animal. Weight loss requires lifestyle changes such as an increase in physical activity. The authors recommended pet food companies could assist in improving pet health by developing foods with lower caloric density on a volume basis, making accurate feeding directions based on optimal weight rather than current weight, and providing caloric information on all labels of pet foods and treats. [VT]
Roudebush P, Schoenherr WD, Delaney SJ. An evidence-based review of the use of nutraceuticals and dietary supplementation for the management of obese and overweight pets. J Am Vet Med Assoc. Jun 1 2008;232(11):1646-1655.