By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.
We know that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the keys to us enjoying the best quality of life. This fact is as true for us as it is for our pets. However, when our pets are plagued by disease, it often makes it more difficult for us to keep our dogs and cats trim and healthy.
Here are a few common dog illnesses that, despite our best efforts, can cause weight issues in our pets. (By the way – all of these illnesses can develop in cats too!):
Allergies in Dogs
Allergies themselves don’t cause weight gain – but the medications used to treat allergies may. Some antihistamines may increase your pets’ appetite, causing them to be hungrier than usual. If you “free feed” – meaning you leave food out for long periods of time so that your pet can eat at their leisure – you may notice yourself refilling their bowls more frequently than before.
As an aside: I personally DO NOT recommend free feeding your pet. Many veterinarians and animal nutritionists attribute pet obesity to this common feeding practice. Even expert dog trainers and canine behaviorists say that free feeding can cause your pet to believe that they are in control of their food, leading to behavioral issues – even food aggression and finicky eating habits.
Cancer in Dogs
The “C” word is something that no pet owner wants to hear from his or her veterinarian. We are finding more and more people are now turning to a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet when their pet is diagnosed with cancer.
Dogs with cancer may experience weight loss. There are two reasons for this: anorexia due to loss of appetite (simply put, your dog does not feel well enough to eat), and cachexia. While the delicious taste of raw meat dog food usually does the trick to get an anorexic dog to eat, cachexia is another issue entirely.
Dogs suffering from cachexia may have a healthy appetite but their body is not able to absorb the nutrients from their food, causing them to lose weight and muscle mass. This is a situation where feeding a diet rich in live, active enzymes can help with nutrient absorption. If you’re feeding a cooked, kibble, or canned dog food, it is recommended to include an enzyme supplement to the food. Alternatively, you can opt for a raw dog food diet instead. Since a raw diet does not undergo the heat process of cooking, all the natural, active enzymes that are naturally found in raw foods are still in good supply. Enzymes help your dog get the most out of her food, allowing her digestive and immune systems to work at their optimal best so that the body can have the strength to fight off disease.
Cushings Disease in Dogs
Cushings disease is a result of the body’s overproduction of the hormone, cortisol. This condition is common in older dogs and, because of the symptoms of fur loss, weight gain and muscle weakness, it is often times mistaken for the natural process of aging. Eliminating grains and high levels of carbohydrates and opting instead for a high protein, low carb diet can help minimize weight gain in dogs with Cushings.
Diabetes in Dogs
Dogs diagnosed with diabetes can exhibit symptoms of weight gain or weight loss, depending on the type. In either instance, it’s important to regulate the amount of sugar being consumed and achieve the proper insulin levels in your pet to properly treat the diabetic dog. Again, dry and canned pet foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates (grains) can cause a sugar imbalance in a diabetic dog. The reason is that the body converts carbs from the food into sugars, thus causing an imbalance in the body. Like Cushings disease in dogs, dogs with diabetes should stick to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, such as a raw meat-based diet.
Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!