Before you start to feed your dog or cat a home-prepared diet, it is strongly recommended you discuss your decision with your veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian in your area. It is essential that you follow any diet's recommendations closely, including all ingredients and supplements. Failure to do so may result in serious health consequences for your pet.

Weight-Control Diet for Dogs

1/2 pound cooked chicken
2 cups cooked long grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt or salt substitute

This diet provides approximately 624 kcal, 49.4 gm protein, and 4.7 gm fat. It supplies the daily caloric needs for weight loss in a 45 to 50 pound dog. This diet supplies the calories required for weight reduction in a dog that normally weighs 47–48 pounds (non-obese weight). In other words, it should be fed to a dog who weighs more than 47–48 pounds but whose idea weight would be approximately 47–48 pounds.

Diet Variations

  1. Substitute 4 cooked egg whites or 1/2 cup cottage cheese (1% fat) for the chicken. Usually beef and lamb are too high in fat for canine weight reductions diets.
  2. Substitute 3 cups of cooked potatoes (with skins) for the rice.
  3. For extra nutrition and fiber and variety, use fresh, raw or slightly steamed vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli as a top dressing for the diet. Use approximately 1/2 to 1 cup per recipe; 1/2 cup of vegetables adds about 30 kcal to the diet.
  4. If the weight-reduction diet is prescribed for a dog with osteoarthritis, omega-3 fatty acids may be prescribed to help relieve the inflammation and pain seen in pets with osteoarthritis. Including omega-3 fatty acids adds few calories to the diet (approximately 10 kcal, depending on the brand). Because omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful for arthritic pets, and because they also increase the metabolic rate, which burns calories, they may be useful in the diets of obese, arthritic pets.
  5. Feed this diet in divided amounts at least twice daily and preferably four to six times daily. Frequent small meals will allow the pet to feel full all the time (feeling full reduces the need to beg, although many dogs who beg have been unintentionally rewarded by their owners for this behavior). Feeding frequent small meals also results in additional weight loss as some of the food consumed is immediately burned into heat (thermogenesis). Frequent feeding results in more burning of calories.
  6. Supply vitamins and minerals as follows: 4 bonemeal tablets (10-grain or equivalent) or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin/mineral supplement, using the label instructions. Alternatively, use a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets) for each 2 bonemeal tablets. When possible, use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination), as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically synthesized vitamins. Use either Catalyn from Standard Process (at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 25 pounds or Canine Plus VetriScience, following the label dosages, as the natural vitamin in this recipe.
  7. Add supplements that can be beneficial, such as plant enzymes, and a super green food or health blend formula.

Weight-Control Diet for Cats

5 ounces salmon, canned with bone (low-salt)
1/3 cup cooked long grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt or salt substitute
100 mg taurine

This diet provides 284 kcal, 30.2 gm protein, and 10.4 gm fat. Feed 75 percent of this recipe to a cat who would normally weigh 11 pounds, 67 percent to a cat who would normally weigh 10 pounds, and 60 percent to a cat who would normally weigh nine pounds.

Diet Variations

  1. Substitute 4 to 8 ounces of tuna or . pound of chicken for salmon, beef, lamb, and sardines usually have too much fat to be used in feline weight-reduction diets.
  2. Rice is optional, as cats do not have a strict dietary carbohydrate requirement.
  3. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are often prescribed for pets with osteoarthritis to relieve pain and inflammation; additional supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may or may not be needed. Each extra-strength omega-3 capsule contains approximately 10 calories. Omega-3s increase metabolic rate so more energy is burned, which can aid weight loss.
  4. For extra nutrition, fiber, and variety, use fresh, raw or slightly steamed vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli as a top dressing for the diet. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup per recipe; 1/2 cup of vegetables adds about 30 kcal to the diet. Most cats will not eat vegetables, however.
  5. Feed this diet in divided amounts at least twice daily and preferably four to six times daily. Frequent small meals will allow the pet to feel full all the time (feeling full reduces the need to beg, although many cats who beg have been unintentionally rewarded by their owners for this behavior). Feeding frequent small meals also results in additional weight loss as some of the food consumed is immediately burned into heat (thermogenesis). Frequent feeding results in more burning of calories.

Other Natural Treatments for Weight Loss
While not meant to replace diet and exercise, the following supplements may be beneficial as part of a weight-loss program: chromium, carnitine, boron, the herbs cayenne, ginger and mustard, hydroxycitric acid, chitosan, and Coenzyme Q10.

The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.

A regular program of supervised exercise is also important for pets on a weight-reduction program.

Conventional Therapy
The treatment of obesity involves restricting calories and increasing the metabolic rate via a controlled exercise program. Using store-bought gLiteh diets is not usually adequate, as these diets are not designed for weight loss but rather weight maintenance. Additionally, since many store-bought diets may contain chemicals, by-products, and fillers, they would not be a part of a holistic pet program. Homemade restricted calorie diets would be the first choice; processed "obesity-management" diets available through veterinarians would be the second-best choice as some of these diets may also contain chemicals, byproducts, and fillers. These "obesity-management" diets are used until the target weight is obtained, then replaced with a homemade maintenance diet if possible.


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Shawn Messonnier, DVM

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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!

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