Overfeeding, unlimited access to food and lack of exercise are all reasons why nearly 35% of pets in the United States are overweight. It’s not always easy to recognize that your pet is overweight, but it’s important to acknowledge obesity when identified, because excess weight is a wellness issue and a risk factor for disease. An ideal body condition for your pet would be one in which you can’t see your pet’s ribs, but you easily feel them.
What’s the Harm of a Little Extra Weight?
A couple extra pounds may not seem like a big deal for your pet, but consider what those extra pounds translate to in terms of human weight. For example, 3 extra pounds on a 10 pound cat are the equivalent of an extra 38 pounds on a 125 pound woman. An extra 5 pounds on a 30 pound dog are equivalent to an extra 21 pounds on a 125 pound woman. Extra weight can lead to serious health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, skin problems and even a shortened life expectancy. Call Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic at (704) 489-2444 to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet’s health.
What Can I Do About My Pet’s Weight?
Provided that your pet doesn’t have any underlying health issues, you can help her/him to maintain a healthy body weight with proper diet and exercise. Here is some helpful information:
Some Feeding Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight
- Avoid leaving food out all day long, feeding table scraps and inappropriate snacks.
- Measure out allotted food and snacks to avoid accidental overfeeding. Most pet snacks are full of calories. A healthy snack substitute for dogs is baby carrots. Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic carries Royal Canin brand dog treats, which are low fat (made from apples, carrots, and oats) and are compatible with most any feeding regimen, including prescription diets
- Feed your pet twice a day to help boost their metabolism rather than feeding her/him once a day. Cut back on the amount of food at each meal by 20-30% and add a can of no salt green beans to your dog’s food and green peas to your cat’s food. Adding these green veggies will increase the amount your pet eats without adding more calories. Also, it will take more energy to digest the green beans or peas. At Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we have Royal Canin weight maintenance food that will provide a healthier alternative to commercial foods that can put your pet’s health at risk. Often times, these store-bought pet foods contain an abundance of calories and too much of some minerals such as sodium. (Remember to introduce a new food over a period of at least 7 days to avoid gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea).
- Keep your pet in another room when preparing or eating your own meals.
- If you have several pets, feed them separately.
Some Tips on Physical Activity
With any physical activity, remember to start slowly and not to overexert your pet. Some ways to increase your dog’s physical activity would be to schedule walks or games of fetch. A regular walk can be enhanced by finding obstacles such as benches, ditches, or logs for your dog to jump over or crawl under. A game of fetch can be made more challenging by doing it on a hillside or stairs. Remember, dirt, grass or carpet will be easier on the joints than hard surfaces such as pavement or concrete.
To increase a cat’s physical activity presents more of a challenge. Buying a new toy and scheduling play sessions may be helpful. Have your cat follow you around the house and then reward her/him with a low calorie snack. Leash walks are beneficial if at all possible.
When your pet returns to an ideal weight, be sure to maintain the healthy weight with proper nutrition and exercise. Maintaining an ideal body weight may help prevent life-threatening issues and promotes a long and healthy life for your pet.