Fit Club Wellness Program

Welcome to our Fit Club Weight Loss Program, and congratulations on taking the first step in helping your pet achieve a healthy weight. By helping your pet you are decreasing the chances that they will develop many life threatening diseases, and you are increasing their life span by up to two and a half years. By the end of the program your pets will be thanking you for making them look and feel healthier, and helping to fulfill their lives.

The program is designed to help you as a pet parent work through the difficulties of helping your pet lose weight. We understand that there are many things that make weight loss difficult, and we have included a packet full of information that will help you learn ways to get your pet more exercise, a list of common problems that hinder weight loss, and a specific guideline for your pet that will tell you exactly what you can feed, and how much exercise they should be getting. We encourage you to keep a list of all your concerns while helping your pet lose weight, and bring them with you at your pet’s weigh-ins so you can discuss them with a weight loss coach.

Call today to schedule your first appointment or if you still have questions email jake@funkstownvet.com

Your first visit:

  • Your first visit will begin with your pet’s initial weigh in and consultation with a weight loss technician.
  • Using the Healthy weight BFI risk chart we will determine your pet’s ideal weight.
  • We will then calculate the daily number of calories your pet should have in a day to reach their healthy weight.
  • A dietary plan will be established to determine what type of food (Metabolic diet, Lite food or prescription diets) and treats (metabolic, prescription treats, veggies) your pet should be eating and how much.
  • A weight loss schedule will be made to determine how much weight your pet should lose per week. (Too much weight loss too quickly can cause unwanted health risks.)
  • Exercise and feeding guidelines specific to your pet will be discussed and a written plan will be sent home.

Your second visit:

  • Your second visit begins with a weight check 2 weeks after starting your new weight loss program. Weight loss is not expected at this time, because the pet will still be adjusting to the new feeding schedule. There should not, however, be any weight gain.
  • Not everything is going to work for everyone so be sure to discuss any and all questions or concerns you may have with your weight loss technician so that appropriate adjustments can be made to your pets feeding schedule.

Your third visit:

  • By the third visit pet should have lost the expected amount of weight according to their weight loss schedule.
  • Be sure to discuss any and all questions or concerns you may have with your weight loss technician
  • Your pet’s daily calories intake (food, treats etc) and their amount of exercise will be evaluated and adjustments to their feeding and weight loss schedules will be made if needed.

Weigh-ins:

  • Weigh ins should be scheduled for every 4 weeks. These should be much shorter as your pet continues to lose weight and you become more comfortable with the weight loss plan.
  • If weight loss does not continue to lose weight, the dietary and weight loss schedules will be evaluated and adjustments in calorie intake and exercise may be made when appropriate.

The final visit:

  • Once your pet has reached their ideal weight a new feeding plan will be made to maintain their new healthier physique. This new feeding schedule will have a new calorie intake amount, any new food allowed, and treats amounts.

COMMON WEIGHT LOSS PROBLEMS

Problem: My pet looks hungry and is begging me for food.

Solutions:

  • If you are following the feeding instructions we have given you, your pets caloric needs are being met. Begging is a behavior and is not nutrition or hunger related.
  • Instead of offering treats, try a social or activity substitute such as, playing, grooming, walking, or offering affection.
  • Take a portion of your allowed daily food and put it in a separate bag and use it as treats during the day. This way you are not giving any extra calories.
  • Try dividing food into smaller more frequent meals during the day.
  • Use food balls, and food puzzles to stimulate your pet’s mind while working for food.
  • Remove your pet from places that you are eating.

Problem: We have a multi-pet household and my pets steal each other’s food.

Solutions:

  • Try feeding your pets in separate areas of the house. All the pets in the house should be on twice daily feeding.
  • If possible, put all of your pets on the same food.

Problem: My pet does not like the new diet I put him/her on.

Solutions:

  • There are several different diets that we can explore to find the right one for your pet.
  • Make sure you are gradually mixing the new food in with your old food over at least a 1 week period.

Problem: My pet was losing weight in the beginning and now he/she isn’t losing any. I have been very careful about treats and have been feeding the recommended amount of food.

Solutions:

  • Your pet may have metabolic adaptations which may result in slowing of weight loss or a plateau. At this point we may need to adjust the feeding recommendations.
  • The amount of food you have been feeding may not have changed, but what about your pets exercise? Has rainy weather prevented you from going on your daily walks? Did the batteries in the laser pointer go out? Maintaining and exercise routine is just as important as the amount of food our pets get.

Problem: I used to feed my pet whenever they were begging, I feel guilty now that I have to tell them no so often.

Solutions:

  • Understand that food-seeking behavior is often more of an attention-seeking behavior. Try going for a walk, or playing a game when your pet starts begging.
  • Dogs develop stronger bonds with people who walk them, than those who provide food.
  • Remember you are helping your pet by restricting their food. You are improving their daily quality of life by helping them lose weight, and increasing their life expectancy by up to two and a half years.

Problem: The other family members in my house are still feeding treats, or feeding too much food at feeding times.

Solutions:

  • There should be only one designated family member that is in charge of daily feedings, and measuring out daily treats. Measure out daily treats and put them in a separate bag. Inform family members that once the treats in this bag are gone your dog/cat is not allowed to have anything else.
  • Bring your family member to your pet weigh-ins. This may help them see the accomplishments being made, and motivate them more.
  • Explain to family member that you are increasing your pet’s life expectancy and that the benefits of weight loss are more important than feeding treats.

What To Do If You Think Your Pet Is Overweight

Here are some things you should consider if you think your pet may be overweight...

Have a veterinarian examine your pet. Many medical conditions can cause sudden weight gain such as thyroid disease and other endocrine disorders, certain diabetic conditions, adrenal gland problems, etc. Work with your veterinarian on a diet that is formulated specifically for your pet. Remember this is not an instant fix. A pet that is 30% overweight should take no less than about 6 months to reach it's ideal weight.

Measure your pets food. Keep a track of everything your pet eats, how much (measure it) and who is feeding them. YOU MAY BE SURPRISED BY HOW MUCH FOOD YOUR PET IS ACTUALLY EATING. This will help you, your family, and your veterinarian or weight loss technician know how much your pet is actually getting. And most importantly be honest. It won't help your veterinarian or your pet if you leave anything out; even a piece of bread crust you gave 'Fluffy' off your sandwich can potentially be a problem.

Instead of one large meal a day feed your pet two or three smaller meals. If they are to be given 2 1/2 cups of food a day split that up. For example, give 1 cup in the morning 1/2 a cup at lunch time and 1 cup at night. Your pet feels it is getting more food even though it isn't, and they burn calories as they eat. More meals eaten means more calories burned.

NO TABLE SCRAPS!! They call it people food for a reason. If your pet is used to getting a treat during your meal inform your veterinarian or weight loss technician so that it can be worked into your pet's diet. Snacks and treats can be adding more calories to your pets ever expanding waist than their actual diet.  If you must feed your pet a snack at dinner time include such things as raw carrots, green beans, ice cubes or even better, store part of their daily food in a jar and use that as a treat.

CAUTION: Many of the foods safe for human can toxic even fatal to our pets.  Consult your veterinarian before offering your pet ANY non pet food item.

Weigh your pet regularly. While on a diet it is very important to weigh your pet routinely to be sure that they are not losing weight too quickly or that they are at least maintaining their weight. Scheduled weigh-in with your veterinarian or weight loss technician are recommended every 4 weeks to evaluate and monitor your pet's weigh loss.  Too much weight loss too quickly can cause unwanted health risks.  If needed, adjustments to your pets dietary weight loss plan can be made at that time.

Exercise Exercise Exercise! Daily physical activity is a must with any diet. DO NOT expect your pet to snooze on the couch through the week and make up for that time by spending hours playing on the weekend. When a dog needs to start getting more exercise because he or she is overweight walking is a great place to start.  There are numerous benefits to walking your dog.

What if you can't get outside to walk your dog? Does this mean you should stop exercising all together? Absolutely not, it is still very important that you pup gets physical and mental exercise every day. There are numerous indoor activities that you can do with you dog that will stimulate them daily when you can’t go outside.  Cats tend to become more sedentary as they get older and may require extra stimulation to get them moving.

Here are some ways to get your pet moving on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy life:

  • Toy or small breeds need two 20-30 minute exercise regiments a day.  That can be a walk, some time outside, or just some good old fashion play time with lots of toys.
  • Medium size breeds need approximately 90 minutes of exercise a day
  • Large breed animals 60-90 minutes of exercise a day (dependent on the age and health of your pet).
  • Cats need a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Swimming is a good non weight-bearing activity for overweight or arthritic dogs.

Know when your pet is tired.  Dogs will hesitate before fetching, pant rapidly, or let their tongue droop when they are tired.

Just Remember: You are not alone!! Don't be afraid to ask questions!

If you have questions feel free to Email our Fit Club Coach Jake Drnec at jake@funkstownvet.com

The Benefits Of Walking Your Dog

So your dog needs to start getting more exercise because he or she is overweight. Walking is a great place to start, but there are many more benefits to daily walks with your dog than just weight loss. Your dog’s physical well-being is most certainly a very important reason to start walking. Daily exercise helps our dogs to maintain healthy lungs, strong muscles, and overall fitness. As your dog continues to get older he or she is likely to develop arthritis in their joints. Walking is a great way to help keep the muscles strong around the joints to help support them. Along with staying physically fit, daily walks can help your dog stay mentally fit also.

Dogs are working animals that were not meant to sit around the house all day. You may be thinking that you have a large backyard and that is enough for your dog, but the truth is dogs do not work themselves, and ultimately the fenced-in yard just becomes a large kennel. By taking your dog out for a walk on a daily basis you are giving them a chance to engage their mind. Teaching your dog to heel and walk calmly next to you is a great mental stimulation. Passing objects like a group of playing kids or dogs barking at you from behind a fence is a great way to test your dog’s obedience, and work them mentally by teaching them not to react negatively and to keep their focus on you. This all leads to better behavior at home.

Fido is barking excessively, chewing on things he shouldn’t, jumping on everyone, or is all around overly excitable, and uncontrollable at home. All of these negative behaviors in the house can be a result of boredom or lack of mental stimulation. Walking your dog will help to drain their energy which in return will make them less likely to seek undesirable behaviors at home. It will also help them become more focused on your training. The first step to fixing any behavior problem is, taking your dog for routine walks. A tired dog is a well behaved dog! Now let’s talk about how walks help with socialization.

Many of us who have gotten our dogs as puppies constantly hear how important it is to socialize them to people, other animals, and strange noises. However, many people do not realize that this needs to continue throughout their lifetime to help maintain a confident dog. By taking them on daily walks you are exposing them to other people and dogs, and teaching them how to greet them politely. They now get to interact with another dog, or have to learn to sit politely while you are talking to another person, or if a small child wants to pet them. This is another way they are getting stimulated mentally on their walk. If you have an aggressive dog you should not force them to interact with people or other dogs, this could be dangerous. That does not mean that they will not be stimulated when walking past them. Teaching your dog to behave calmly on a leash even when passing things that usually make them react negatively is a great way to mentally stimulate them and boost your confidence in how you control your pup. Other things you might pass on your walks are bikes, skateboards, trains, loud cars, horns, and lawn mowers. By constantly experiencing these things they will be less likely to become scared or nervous of new sounds or objects. Several dogs that bark at windows or at the fence are doing so out of fear. Examples of such fears are a new person, a motorcycle, an animal they have not seen before. Showing them that new things are not something to be afraid of, and training them to react in a calm manner can help with this behavior at home.

Another important reason to be walking your dog is that it helps you bond with your pup. Dogs are very social animals that crave our attention. Spending time with your dog by walking, exploring new places, new things, and teaching new behaviors will help strengthen your relationship. Creating a mutual trust between dog and owner is one of the most important steps to creating a strong, life long bond. It is also important to walk your dog correctly. You want your dog to walk calmly beside you. Having a dog in front of you, and pulling you down the road can increase the stress of a handler. This may diminish your bond with your dog and may make you want to walk your dog even less, causing even more behavior problems.

When walking your dog, do not use a harness unless your dog has a medical condition that prevents you from putting a regular collar on. A harness is designed for pulling. (This is why you see sled dogs wearing them.) A harness goes around the strongest points of the dog’s body, giving them the strength to control where you go. You also have no control over their head if you were to get in a difficult situation. If you are having a hard time keeping your dog from pulling try using a 'Halti' or 'Gentle Leader.' These head pieces are designed to go around the dog’s nose and neck so if they start to pull it turns their head to the side. They make a great training tool that does not put pressure around the neck, and can be paired with a collar or harness if you must use one. Retractable leashes also are not recommended because they give you less control over your dog. You should never walk a dog at the end of a retractable leash. The concerns of this are that dogs are more able to approach people and other dogs without you in proper control. You never know if the dog you are approaching is friendly with other dogs, or if the person you are approaching is afraid of dogs.

Now that you know all of the benefits of walking with your dog, create a plan to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day. You can do this in the mornings, before work, or after work. You can break your walk up into 2 or 3 small walks a day or one long one. It does not matter what breed of dog you have, every breed should be walked. A Chihuahua however may need a little bit shorter walk, especially if you are just starting out, and a sporting breed such as an Australian Shepherd, or Labrador may need longer walks during the day. No matter the breed, dog walking fulfills so many of our canine friend’s needs, there is no reason not to walk them daily.

Indoor Activities For Dogs

You have been faithful about taking Fido on walks every day since the vet has told you he needs to lose a few pounds. But now a big snow storm is rolling in and it looks like you won’t be able to walk him for a few days. Does this mean you should stop exercising all together? Absolutely not, it is still very important that you pup gets physical and mental exercise every day. Here are some activities that you can do indoor with you dog that will stimulate them daily when you can’t go outside.

Hide and Seek:

This game gets your dog moving around the house without throwing a ball. Put your dog in a separate room and then take your dog’s favorite toy or a couple pieces of his/her daily allowed kibble and hide it in the another room. Start by placing the toy in an obvious place that is easy for your pup to find. Let him out of the room and tell him to seek. (You may have to show him/her where you hid it the first couple of times). Once he finds the toy or kibble praise him with tons of affection. Take her out of the room again and hide her toy or kibble again, continue to make the hiding places harder and harder until your dog is a hide and seek pro. You can also play this game with people instead of toys. Have someone help you distract your dog while you hide. Once hidden call your dog and tell him to seek. Once he finds you give him a piece of kibble and lots of affection. Note: If you use all of your dogs allowed dinner do not feed him that evening. He does not need any extra food just because you fed it in a different way.

Command Stations:

Command stations are a great way to stimulate your dog mentally! Set up different stations around your house, and mark them with a sign that has a command written on it. Walk your dog from one station to the next and make them do the command that is on the sign several time. Reward him/her with praise or a pieces of their allowed daily kibble.

Stepping Stones:

Create stepping stones out of bath mats or none slip rugs and place them around the house. Start with the mats very close to each other. Place you dog on a leash and have him walk on the mats rewarding him every time he goes from one mat to the next without stepping on the floor. Slowly increase the distances between that mats making him have to leap from one to the next. Use caution not to extend the mats too far out.

Indoor Obstacle Course:

Use objects such as empty drawers, broomsticks, pillows, cushions, hula hoops, and cardboard boxes to create and obstacle course around your house. Have your dog weave, jump, tunnel, navigate, and crawl through your obstacles.

Warm-Ups:

You can also do some gentle warm-ups before doing work out with your dog. You can do this by putting him/her on a leash and walking around you house, make sharp, slow turns around doorways, and walks up and down steps. You can also help work your dog’s core muscles by having him sit, lay down, and then stand back up repeatedly.

Ways To Get Your Cat Moving

Kittens may be naturally active and constantly running around the house, but as our kitties get older they tend to become more sedentary and may require extra stimulation to get them moving. Here are some ways to get your cat moving on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy life.

They have several different types of cat toys at the pet stores. Try picking out a few and see what your cat likes. There are remote controlled and battery powered toys that usually look like mice, feather toys that are usually attached to a string and pole, small balls that have a bell in them and jingle when rolled around, and many more. Most of the toys will engage a cat to play for a short amount of time during the day. The best cat toys do not have to be bought, but can be made at home. Paper crumpled up into a ball, shoelaces, yarn, or hair ties will excite most cats. It’s always a good idea to put away the toys after play time so that your cat does not accidentally ingest them. Also, by not leaving the toys out, your cat does not get used to seeing them all the time and become bored with them.

Another great idea is to get cat trees. Cats are natural climbers and enjoy perching in high places. You can also put your cat’s daily meals at the top of a cat tree, or on different levels of it to encourage your cat to climb on it several times a day. You can also try purchasing a cat wheel. A cat wheel is very similar to a hamster wheel. When you place your cat on the wheel their weight makes it start to turn, and the faster they move the faster the wheel goes.

A great do it yourself cat toy is to used cardboard boxes and cut holes into them to make a kitty adventure course. You can stack the boxes and create tunnels between them. On the same note you can buy shelving systems so your cat can climb from floor to ceiling. Just make sure any shelves are properly mounted to the walls and can support your cat’s weight.

Laser pointers are a great ways to get cats moving. Shine them on the floor and lead your cat over to the climbing tree. Slowly move the laser pointer up the climbing tree so that your cat can see it has moved from the floor to the tree and that they now have to follow it up. Once you get your cat to climb up the tree, shine the laser pointer to get the cat to climb back down. If you do not have a cat tree you can do the same thing with steps. If you don’t have steps running them back and forth across the floor is also beneficial.

To engage your cats mind, start doing clicker training. Cats may take a little bit more time to clicker train than dogs, but engaging their mind is just as important. Lack of exercise, and mental stimulation leads to boredom. Cats manage their boredom by sleeping and eating which may lead to an overweight, unhealthy cat.

Feed your cat its meals by using food dispensing toys. Cat food dispensing toys are a great way to engage your cat’s mind, and exercise them by making them work for their food. You can also split their daily meal up into several small portions and hide them in different places around the house. Put the food in high places, and low places so your cat has to move all around. If you have more than one cat in the house you can hide their food in two different rooms and lock them in during feeding time.

Now that you have a few ways to get your cat moving see what kind of games he/she likes. See what games you can come up with and what household items can become the best cat toys.