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Summary of key points

  • Weight management is an essential component of every pet’s health care plan.
  • Excess weight can reduce longevity and adversely affect quality of life. It is associated with skin and respiratory disorders, renal dysfunction, an increased risk of metabolic and endocrine disorders, orthopedic disease and some types of cancer.
  • The entire veterinary team should be knowledgeable about weight management, prevention of weight gain, weight loss protocols, online information sources and client educational materials.
  • A thorough nutritional assessment is necessary for the practitioner to design a weight loss plan. Use the 2014 AAHA Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats in conjunction with the 2010 AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats to create your overall approach.
  • An effective individualized weight loss program is achieved with appropriate caloric restriction, diet selection, exercise and strategies to help modify behavior of both the pet and client.
  • The clients’ and pets’ individual circumstances, family and environment will affect the details of the weight management plan.
  • Home management is vital for weight control. Working in partnership with clients to create a plan that will work with their lifestyle and abilities is essential. Keep in mind that what works for one client may not work for another.
  • Record the results of all examinations and ongoing evaluations in the medical record.
  • Maintaining an ideal body weight is a lifelong process that begins at the first veterinary visit, extending for the life of the pet.