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Essential elements of loss weight program for pets

Essential elements of loss weight program for pets

In veterinary practice, there are three essential elements of a successful weight loss program. Ensuring that each of these components is present greatly contributes to successful patient weight loss as well as clients and veterinarian satisfaction.

pets weight loss

1. Establish owner commitments:

Assess the client's readiness for change. If the client is ready to act, proceed with your nutritional plan. If not, use statements and question to encourage the client to move from thinking (contemplation) to doing (action).

2.Customize the weight loss plan:

Partner with the client to create an individual plan that works for him or her and meets the nutritional needs of the pet.

A careful and complete diet history (e.g., food and treat types, amounts, schedule) can reveal important information about how the family relates to the pet through food and often provides insight about potential challenges for the client.

The diet history can also reveal information about the pet's nutritional status, which is often imbalanced from excess treats and human foods. Because pets' energy needs can vary  significantly, it is important to know an individual pet's current caloric intake. The diet history can provide this information, which can then serve as much more accurate starting point for calculating the pet's specific food dose.


Initially, biweekly follow-up helps to support clients, ensure a healthy rate of loss (0.5% to 1.5% body weight/week), and detect potential relapses early so that the weight loss plan can be adjusted or the client redirected before additional weight gain occurs and frustration becomes another barrier to success.


Keys to communication

Great communication skills are essential as clinical (physical examination and technical) skills to achieving success in helping clients with weight loss programs for their pets.

Often, the most frustrating cases are those in which the client's and the veterinary professional's expectations are mismatched. An appreciation of the client's level of motivation for weight loss allows us to tailor our interventions and can help reduce our frustration with clients who do not adhere to the weight loss program we have designed.

Using collaborative communication skills encourage clients to actively participate in their pets' care. This communication style, known as relationship-centered care, uses techniques that engage the client, allowing for shared decision- making between the client and veterinarian. Shared decisions are especially important in developing a successful weight loss plan.

To begin this process, first ask permission to discuss the pet's weight. This helps include the client in the  direction of the visit, and the answer will give you insight into the client's perspective. To help elicit pertinent information, especially when collecting a diet history, use open-ended questions, such as those beginning whith "when," "what," and "where." When the client answers, summarize and clarify the information in supportive, nonjudgmental way. These techniques, called reflective listening and empathetic statements, communicate to the client that his or her perspective is recognized and valued.


Moving clients from thinking to doing

The best predictors of adherence to weight loss program are the veterinary professional's interviewing skills and the qualities of the veterinary-client interaction. To improve adherence, it is essential to establish an atmosphere of trust and demonstrate concern for both the patient's and the client's well-being. It is also important to understand how behavior change take place.

Psychologists have developed several models to help guide understanding of how humans make changes in behavior to improve health. The "stages of change" model developed by Prochaska and collogues, also known as the transtboretical model, can be used to assess a client's readiness to change his or her behavior.

It can help veterinary professionals better understand the change process, better partner with clients and patients, and customize recommendation that best suit their clients' need- in other words, to use the "right" approach for the "right" client at the "right" time. Implementation a weight loss plan when the client is ready to act on your advise will improve your success and be more efficient use of your time.


Step 1. Identify the Stage of Change

The transtheoretical model identifies five stage of change and the characteristic attributes:

1. Precontemplation

The person has no intention of taking action in the next 6 months. These clients might commonly be referred to as resistant, unmotivated, or unaware, but clearly, they are not ready to change. In reality, our intervention programs are often not ready for them.

2. Contemplation

The person is aware  of the pros and cons of changing and intends to change in the next 6 months. These clients may be stuck "thinking about it," intending to change "soon."

3. Preparation

The person plans to take action in the next month. Clients may have recognized the problem of their pet's weight and already sought advice from books, online sources, or a pet store employee, trainer, or veterinary professional.

4. Action

The person has taken action that is significant enough to reduce the risks for disease. For example, the client may have reduced the number of treats fed or selected a different pet food. However, a change is not considered a significant action unless it has reduced calories by at least 10% and provided complete and balanced nutrition.

5. Maintenance

The person continues action to prevent relapse.


Step 2. Select a Stage-Appropriate Intervention

Many weight loss programs fail because the type of intervention chosen is not matched to the client's readiness to change. Many traditional programs are action- oriented, but most clients do not start in the action stage.

By understanding the stage of change, veterinary health professionals can adapt their communication tactics to better meet a client's readiness and support the client to become ready for change. It may take time and several visits to establish report and build trust necessary to move clients along to the next stage: These visits may require patience, but we can better serve the patient's health needs and build great loyalty when we partner with these clients.

1. Precontemplation.

If a client is in this stage, it is not yet time to try implementing a weight loss plan for the pet. However, it is equally important not to ignore the patient's obesity until the next annual examination. A frequent monitoring plan should be implemented for these patients. 

Express your concern about the pet's health and recommended monthly follow-ups to monitor for any adverse effects of being overweight. Depending on the patients health, these can be brief weight checks performed by a technician. By conveying care and concern for the patient rather than judgment, you can follow both the patient and the client so that you are ready with a weight loss plan when the client is more respective.

2. Contemplation

If a client seems to be "stuck" in this stage, he or she need to learn more about the issues involved. Providing resources such as handouts or links to reliable Web sites may give them necessary information and reinforce the message that you care about their pet's health and the obesity is a real heath concern.

3. Preparation

Recruit these clients for action-oriented programs. Ask them if they are ready to begin.

4. Action

Work with clients to design an individual weight loss plan that accounts for their pet's need and their own schedule and lifestyle. Provide feedback and compliments on the patient's progress to encourage the client to stay with the plan.

5. Maintenance

Refine the plan as necessary to achieve or continue healthy weight loss. Give clients information and permission for a possible relapse. This remove judgment if a relapse should happen and encourages them to seek your help if it does.

Final Remark

When you form a partnership with a client, you create an environment that support change. By understanding the state of change, you can help move your client from thinking tp doing, bring them closer to implementing a weight loss program for their pets, and, ultimately, improve their pets' health.

Selecting the right intervention at the right time for the right client can tremendously improve the clinical outcome. Successfully managing obesity can change a frustrating problem to a rewarding one. The pet's health and quality of life improve, the pet owner become a loyal client because he or she has been an active partner in the health care plan.

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