Whether you believe it or not, our pets are just as prone to obesity and weight gain as us humans. According to the RSCPA, between 22 and 24 percent of pets are overweight or obese. More serious though is what those excess pounds can mean for your pet.
Excess body fat that affects one’s health and quality of life commonly defines obesity. For pets, this means their bones, joints, digestive organs and respiratory organs are all at risk. Serious excessive weight can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.
The good news about obesity in pets is that it’s totally preventable and there are several ways to help your pet shed its extra pounds!
When pets are overweight, it generally means that their food has more energy than they are using up. So the number one way to help your pet lose weight is to exercise with it. Simply playing fetch and allowing your dog or cat to run around will allow them to use up some of that excess energy, while also keeping them in shape. Try walking your pet for at least 15 minutes, twice a day. This also gives you the incentive to be active with them! Need I say more?
A second way you can help your pet is to minimize its food intake. Also known as the portion-control feeding method, you can measure out your pet’s food and offer it as a meal. Most veterinarians recommend feeding pets twice a day, especially dogs. This controls the amount of food your pet will consume while also giving it an eating schedule.
For overweight pets, diets that are rich in dietary protein and fiber, and low in fat are recommended. This dietary protein will enhance your pet’s metabolism and give it the feeling of being full for longer.
Minimizing food intake also includes cutting out giving your dogs fatty treats or “presents” in the form of human food. Just like a human’s diet, it’s okay to cut snacking from your pet’s diet.
When working with your pet to help them lose weight, always remember this is a gradual process. Switching food types or reducing caloric intake should be a steady process, keeping your pet’s ideal body goal in mind.
If you feel like your pet is seriously overweight or the above treatments just aren’t working, you should consult with your pet’s veterinarian about a weight reduction program. Normally a program like this would include monitoring your pet’s weight each month while trying to maintain an ideal body weight once it has been achieved.
To see whether your pet is fat or fit, check out the charts at Project Pet Slim Down.