You may think that a little extra weight on your dog or cat is endearing, making them extra cuddly and, therefore, becoming the subject of many photographs that will be sent to your friends to confirm just how cute your fur baby really is.
But an overweight pet is not something to ooh and ahh over. It is a very serious condition that affects over half of the nation’s pets, which means that 80 million dogs and cats are at dire risk of developing potentially fatal health conditions. This includes everything from arthritis to cardiovascular disease to cancer. While health complications are never completely in your control, there are ways that you can help to protect your pets against grim conditions that can be prevented through actions intended to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
If your pet is already overweight, or you notice that they are getting heavier, it’s time to start implementing weight loss management strategies in order to reverse this trajectory and get their weight under control before more dangerous symptoms begin to develop.
Find out how many calories your pet should consume per day.
Just like with with humans, pets are allotted a certain amount of calories they need to consume every day. Some pet owners measure out a certain amount of food to give their pets throughout the day without knowing how many calories it ends up adding up to. The number of calories your dog or cat needs is dependent upon their their age, their size, their activity level, and whether they are neutered or not. Don’t follow the instructions listed on their bag of food. Instead, consult their veterinarian to discover the number of calories right for your specific pet.
Count their calories.
Never “guesstimate” when it comes to your pet’s diet. Once you are cognizant of how many calories they should be eating per day, find out how much food that equates to and be sure to divide it out throughout the duration of the day. If your pet is used to eating whatever they want, this may require a period of adjustment, but they will eventually get used to their new diet regimen.
Switch to healthy treats.
Just because you are trying to watch your pet’s weight does not mean you have to take away their treats. Throw them the occasional treat, but be mindful of what it consists of. Avoid sugary treats and opt for healthier alternatives. And be sure to count these treats as part of your pet’s calories for the day. Even a mere 30 extra calories per day can equate to an additional 3 pounds gained at the end of every year.
Encourage your pet to exercise! For dogs, go for a walk or run, take them hiking, or let them run around the dog park for a few hours. Cats, however, require a bit more creativity. Using a laser is a fun way to play with your cat and it gets them up and moving around for a short amount of time.