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6 Ways to Help Your Pet Lose Weight
Like humans, pets can also struggle with issues like obesity. Research done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that in the US, 54% of all dogs and 59% of cats are either overweight or obese.
If you want to determine if your dog or cat is overweight, feel around their spine and ribs. There should only be a thin layer of fat that separates the skin and bones. If you have trouble feeling their spine or ribs, your pet is likely overweight. As a general rule, once a pet has reached maturity, anything above fifteen percent above the recommended weight for their particular breed or size is considered obese. The journey you and your pet will need to take to help them lose weight is not an easy one. But there are six key ways you can help them lose the weight, and keep it off permanently!
Visit your veterinarian.
Of course, your first and best solution for pet weight loss is to visit your local vet. If they can access your pet’s health records, they will be able to better advise any weight loss efforts you may attempt. Together you can set goals to monitor and track.
Reduce or eliminate the number of carbs in their diet.
Many brands of dry kibble have a high percentage of grains and carbohydrates, that are strongly linked to weight gain. However, dogs and cats don’t actually have a nutritional need to eat carbohydrates. In fact, everything they need dietary-wise can be sourced from proteins and fat. You may have noticed the movement towards grain-free biscuits, which are higher in fat and protein. While these may cost a bit more than their usual biscuit, it will keep their body in much better condition.
Get them more exercise and make it fun!
It makes sense to pair a balanced diet with increased exercise. Consistency is more important than the length of exercise. In fact, a daily 15-minute walk can do a lot more for a dog than a 1-hour walk every few days. Incorporate fun into their exercise too – play with a ball, take them to the beach or do an adventure walk in the wilderness.
For an overweight cat, you could perhaps try encouraging them to play with some toys. If they aren’t initially interested, try spraying some catnip on a few of their toys which should invigorate play. Aim for three 5-minute intense rounds of play a day.
Measure the amount of food you give them.
We’re all guilty of guessing the amount of food we feed our pets. From filling a bowl, to keeping the bowl constantly full — both are recipes for an overweight pet. A simple measuring cup will help keep food portions on track. Double check with your veterinarian on the amount of food to give them. Cutting back drastically on portions may be an unhealthy change, so always check first.
Treat pet treats as a “occasional” thing, or only as rewards.
Many pet owners use treats often throughout the day, but this can do more harm than good to the health of their pet. Incorporate “no-treat-rewards,” which is simply extra attention and praise for good behavior. Another form of treat giving to avoid is “guilt treating,” for when your pet is home for extended periods of time. Although you may feel like compensating them for their loneliness, treats should only be used as a reward for good behavior.
Make sure you give them “fuss time.”
Some pets may overeat or ask for more food as a way to get attention. What you may see as a diet issue, may be more of an attention-seeking one. By giving them more affection, you will also distract them from wanting more food.
Overweight pets can face a lot of resulting health issues, so it’s important you notice the warning signs and get them checked out by your local vet. Simply changing their diet, the amount of exercise they have and giving them more fuss time, can be all it takes to help them lose the excess weight and keep it off!