Monitoring is an important part of a successful weight loss program—and it requires the pet owner's cooperation, says Jane Armstrong, DVM, MS, MBA, DACVIM, speaking at the CVC in Washington, D.C., Thursday, May 9. To increase the chances of the program's success, owners need to be accountable, she says.
When starting a patient's weight loss program, Dr. Armstrong advises that you schedule recheck appointments every two weeks until a weight loss trend is achieved, then monthly for the next six to 12 months.
Warn owners at the beginning of the program that weight loss isn't linear. There will be plateaus when weight loss levels off, and you may need to make adjustments in the feeding program.
Also discuss the maintenance phase with owners. The goal isn't just weight loss, but maintenance of the new weight. Maintaining their pets' new weight will take continued diligence on the owners' part.
A pet may have not reached its target weight when you and the owner decide to transition the weight loss program to the maintenance phase. The goal for weight reduction is rarely to achieve some cosmetic "ideal" body condition score, but rather to reduce the morbidity associated with obesity and improve the quality of the animal's life. Rechecks are recommended every three months for one year to help support patients through the maintenance phase.
Much about implementing weight loss programs has less to do with the pets and more to do with supporting owners and helping them change their behaviors. And don't forget: veterinary technicians can play an important role in helping set up a weight loss program, in monitoring at recheck visits and by phone, and in coaching and supporting owners to change their behaviors.