Frequently Asked Questions about the Obesity Clinic

What can I expect from signing up for the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals?

You can select one of several plans that best meets your pet's needs for a weight loss program. Every program will include an initial appointment, where we will review your pet's medical and diet history, evaluate his or her current diet, discuss appropriate feeding strategies for your specific pet, answer your nutrition questions and provide written recommendations to you and your veterinarian for commercial diets, treats and supplements (if applicable) to meet your pet's nutritional needs. We will also carefully examine your pet, paying particular attention to body condition, muscle condition, and other factors related directly to nutrition.

To schedule a visit or for pricing information, please contact the clinic's Nutrition Service Liaison.

What happens after the initial appointment?

Based on the plan you've selected, there will be monthly weigh-ins, where we will revisit your pet's weight loss plan, reassess body condition and review your pet's progress. This is also the time when adjustments can be made to the diet or program to best suit you and your pet's needs.

What if I have questions in between weigh-ins?

All weight loss programs include e-mail or phone advice directly with the board-certified veterinary nutritionist dedicated to your case. Your primary care veterinarian will also receive updates and can be a part of your weight management team.

How long will it take for my pet to lose weight?

We recommend weight loss at a rate of 1% of body weight per week to reduce rebound weight gain and avoid muscle loss. The average weight loss plan takes four to five months to safely achieve optimal body weight, though this depends on how much weight your pet needs to lose and any other medical conditions.

What happens after my pet reaches ideal weight?

Once your pet achieves an ideal body condition, the final monthly recheck will include a weight management plan discussion. Many pets need continued calorie restriction to maintain an ideal body weight and may need to stay on a special diet. Switching diets or altering the plan can be discussed at this appointment.

How do I sign up for the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals?

To learn more and sign up for the clinic, please contact the clinic's Nutrition Service Liaison. You will need to fill out a diet history form and your veterinarian may need to provide current medical records (especially blood work) for your pet.

What if I have more than one pet?

As you know, each one of your pets is unique. We also treat each pet as an individual and carefully review medical records and a diet history before making specific diet recommendations. For this reason, if you have more than one family pet struggling with obesity and would like specific diet recommendations each pet must be signed up for a specific weight loss program at the clinic to ensure its individual health care needs are addressed. Evaluating each pet individually is particularly important when one or more pets in the family have health concerns and the diets that they require may not be appropriate for other animals in the household.

Without reviewing additional pets' medical records, we can only advise you as to whether any commercial diets recommended for the pet that we discuss in the appointment are generally appropriate for healthy pets. Therefore, review of additional pets' information and adjustment of the diet recipe to meet each pet's needs is strongly recommended.

Will my pet need to be on a special diet?

The optimal weight loss diet is determined by a number of factors, including calorie content, nutrient composition, and taste of the diet, as well as medical conditions, preferences, and needs of the pet. Owner preferences and convenience are also taken into account to ensure the best outcome for your pet. The clinic's priority is to ensure safe and effective weight loss for your pet, so in many cases, a therapeutic diet that can only be purchased from a veterinarian may be recommended.

Can I use a home-cooked weight loss diet recipe?

Optimizing a home-cooked diet for weight can be very challenging and is discouraged during the active weight loss process. Ensuring all essential nutrients are met while decreasing calories often requires multiple reformulations. Commercial diets are initially recommended during the weight loss process. Once target weight has been reached, a home-cooked diet recipe can be formulated for your pet(s) to maintain their optimal weight. More information on home-cooked diets can be found on the Clinical Nutrition Service FAQ.

Why can't I just feed less of my current food?

In some cases, this may work. However, one area of research Dr. Linder, DVM, DACVN, is currently investigating includes determining optimal nutrient profile of a weight loss diet. Many foods designed for maintenance feeding may not provide enough essential nutrients if restricted to the amount necessary to induce weight loss. We want to reduce calories your pet is getting while ensuring that all essential nutrient, vitamin, and mineral dietary needs are met. Especially for those pets needing severe restriction, a specially formulated therapeutic diet is safest for your pet to avoid risk of nutrient deficiency.

Can I still give treats?

Yes! We want to ensure your pet is happy while losing weight, so we try to include treats as a part of the weight loss plan if you would like. Reserving part of the daily allotment of food can be used throughout the day as a treat, or there are some low calorie commercial treats and fresh foods we can recommend.

What if my pet is overweight but also has many medical problems?

The Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals specializes in helping animals achieve their optimal weight. The clinic recognizes that other medical conditions often occur in conjunction with obesity. If your pet's primary concern is a medical condition (for example, kidney disease, heart disease) even if he or she is slightly overweight, we would recommend making an appointment with our Clinical Nutrition Service to best serve your pet. If you're not sure for which service your pet is best suited, please contact the clinic's Nutrition Service Liaison.

For general nutrition questions, please refer to the Clinical Nutrition Service FAQ.

What is a board-certified veterinary nutritionist?

A board-certified veterinary nutritionist is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN). Veterinarians who are board certified specialists in veterinary nutrition have completed training that involves intensive clinical, teaching, and research activities spanning at least two years. Trainees also are required to pass a written examination in order to obtain board certification. Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals is currently the only weight loss center in the Unites States to have a board-certified veterinary nutritionist as faculty. More information can be found on on the American College of Veterinary Nutrition website.