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Obesity – a nutritional solution

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Overweight dog

The body requires energy to function; to run, to play, to simply breathe all take energy. That energy is obtained from the proteins, carbohydrates and fats provided in the diet. If the energy supplied is greater than the energy needed then the animal; cat, dog, person etc will store the surplus for later, by laying down fat stores. Normal fluctuations are expected for wild animals as seasonal conditions change with balance occurring over time. If an imbalance between the energy consumed and energy expended continues for a prolonged period then the animal will gain or lose weight accordingly with a net result being ill health[1].

For the modern domesticated pet with sheltered living conditions and ample supply of concentrated inappropriate food in the form of a commercial processed diet, the net result is often obesity and other related disease such as diabetes and pancreatitis. These commercial products are based largely on plant proteins and contain a significant level of carbohydrates which are often simple carbohydrates converting easily into sugar within the body. For convenience they are available as dry or semi moist products meaning they are more concentrated and calorie dense than natural food with its higher water content. The pets fed these diets are provided comfortable surroundings, protected from the seasonal extremes and the need to hunt their own food in all weather, simply following the owner to the kitchen with pleading eyes will often suffice in producing more food[2].

A raw species appropriate diet is the ideal option for cats and dogs, regardless of whether they are under, over, or an ideal weight with simple variations in composition providing a ‘tailor made’ approach suitable for each situation. Improving the pets overall health and ensuring a healthy weight is achieved and maintained becomes rather simple.

For the obese pet the diet should be based on raw lean meaty bones which would naturally be more filling for them than a commercial diet and would naturally support a reduction in the amount of food required. Game animals are preferred over farm animals as they tend to be leaner however any meat cuts can be trimmed to reduce the fat content if options are limited, for example due to allergies. Recreational bones are less calorie dense than edible meaty bones and can be a great source of distraction and exercise for the pet taking a long time to chew and gnaw away at whilst being nutritionally beneficial [1] .

Including fresh, raw, pulverised fruits and vegetables in the diet provides the pet with valuable fibre and assorted nutrients which support good health. The choices of what to include are expansive and should be varied to suit the pet, for the obese pet Dark leafy greens would top the list as an excellent source of fibre and other much needed nutrients without providing excess carbohydrates; easily blended with a little water they provide a useful medium for other supplements if needed. Fruits and other high sugar items would be avoided or fed in moderation until a healthy weight was restored. Obesity is often related to a lack of exercise which places additional strain on the health of the pet, increasing the pets exercise with gentle walking or swimming will aid in reducing the pets excess weight and improving their overall health.


[1] Billinghurst, I. 1993. Give Your Dog a Bone. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.

[2] Syme, B. 2011. Scientific Guide to Natural Nutrition. Southbank, Australia: Vets All Natural Pty Ltd.

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