If your dog or cat is looking a bit overweight, or showing one or more symptoms of obesity, you'll want to get your beloved pet back to a healthy weight as quickly and efficiently as possible. Finding the right diet pet food ingredients can be as important as portion control and excercise.
By choosing the right foods to help your pet maintain their muscle mass during weight loss, you’ll help increase their capacity to burn fuel. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat tissue does.
These 6 great ingredients will actually boost your pet’s metabolism, and help their body to burn fat:
This amino acid, which is typically made by the body, can be useful during weight loss. Not only can it help burn fat, but more importantly it helps your pet maintain their lean body mass during weight loss. This is especially true for cats. To add on to your pet’s natural production of L-carnitine, look for supplements that will:
A useful isoflavone found in soybeans, genistein is like L-carnitine in that it may have the ability to help cats maintain a lean body mass. It may also help prevent fat deposits from forming in dogs. It’s been shown to help neutered and spayed pets decrease their overall food intake, too, although these effects are short-term. Check with your vet to see if a supplement is appropriate for your pet.
3. The Fiber Fill
Feeding your pet foods that are higher in fiber content will dilute the calories in your pet’s diet, while helping your pet to feel full. Since the fiber and calorie content across food brands differ quite a bit, it may be best to do your diet shopping within a specific brand of food to make sure the higher fiber food is actually lower in calories.
4. Higher Protein
When restricting overall caloric intake, it has been shown that higher protein diets help your pet retain more muscle mass. More muscle mass means a better fat burn.
- If you use canned food for your dog, look for one that’s over 8% protein and less than 3% fat.
- If you feed dry kibble to your dog, look for a food that’s over 24% protein and less than or equal to 10% fat.
- For cats, look for a canned food that’s around 10% or higher in protein and 3% or less in fat.
- If you feed dry kibble to your cat, look for 36% or higher in protein and 12% or less in fat.
5. Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The fatty acids in fish oil have been associated with decreases in inflammation. This can result in better insulin signaling, which regulates the way the body metabolizes carbohydrates and fat.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive to feed your pet a type of fat in order to help them lose weight, fish oil as a source of fat may be beneficial to combat the metabolic syndrome associated with obesity, particularly in cats.
6. Green Tea Extract
French studies suggest that green tea extract may improve lipid and fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity in dogs. Some dog and cat foods already contain green tea extract, but if yours doesn't, it is possible to supplement your pet's diet with the green tea you buy for yourself. However, check with your veterinarian before using products intended for humans, to make sure you are not overdosing your pet.
Armed with this knowledge, you can choose the right foods and supplements for your pet’s weight loss program, and help make the transition to a lean and healthy body mass proceed more quickly and easily.
More on Pet Weight Loss and Nutrition
Overweight Dogs and Cats: Causes and Treatments
Try the Tool: Is Your Dog a Healthy Weight?
How a Healthy Diet Can Prevent Disease in Your Dog
Keeping Your Cat at a Healthy Weight
This article was written by PetCareRx Consulting Nutritionist Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine. The information contained, however, is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian.