What do I do if my pet is overweight?
Your pet is overweight, now what? The holidays have passed and it’s the time of year for new resolutions and healthy habits. The gym is crowded and many people have begun new diets to achieve their goals. If your pet is overweight, now is a great time to help him/her lose the extra pounds.
An estimated 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats in America are obese. Obesity in animals is directly correlated to diabetes mellitus and orthopedic issues; Keeping your pet fit and trim will result in a longer healthier life for your pet.
The first step to helping if your pet is overweight is portion control at meal time. Ask your veterinarian how much your pet should be eating at each meal. Before every meal, measure your pet’s food out in a measuring cup. Avoid free feeding since most animals do not budget out the correct amount of calories on their own. If your pet is acting very hungry on his/her new diet a restricted calorie food should be considered. Many low calorie diets taste good to your pet and make him/her feel like they are eating a large volume without eating a lot of calories.
Another area of high caloric intake is from treats. Most store brought pet treats have a lot of calories in them. Dogs can actually be consuming 50-75% of their allotted daily caloric intake in treats alone. Good alternative low calorie pet treats to consider if your pet is overweight include baby carrots and broccoli.
Table scraps should not be given to pets especially if your pet is overweight. Many people want to share some of their own dinner with their pets. This concept is done out of love for the animal but can result in excessive weight gain and dangerous medical disorders such as an inflamed pancreas or an upset gastrointestinal tract. If you want to share table scraps with your pet, a bag of baby carrots is a safe low calorie snack as mentioned.
Another key ingredient to weight loss is increasing your pet’s activity level. For dog’s begin with steady consistent walking. Increase the walking distance by a little bit each week to slowly get them in shape. If your dog loves chasing a toy, throw it with them for fifteen to twenty minutes every evening. These types of activities not only increase your pet’s activity level but also make your pet feel loved and involved with the family.
If you are in Memphis, there are many great areas to take your pet to make exercise even more enticing. Take a weekend to check out Shelby Farms Dog Park which features obstacles for jumping and ponds for swimming.
Increasing a cat’s activity level is a little bit more difficult since most cats do not enjoy walking on a leash. Many cats do enjoy playing with a laser pointer. This is not only a great source of exercise for your cat, but it is also very entertaining for owners.
If you have increased your animal’s exercise and decreased their caloric intake but still your pet remains overweight, ask you veterinarian about checking some routine blood work to screen for health conditions that may result in obesity. Dogs that have hypothyroidism will feel tired and not eat very much. Despite a strict diet, hypothyroid dogs will not lose weight until their thyroid is well controlled on medications.
Although helping your pet lose weight can feel challenging, the benefits of an ideal weight make the diet very worthwhile. Pets that weigh their ideal weight tend to feel more energetic and have less health problems. With a firm commitment to helping your pet lose weight, you will be helping your pet live a longer, happier life.