At first, you just wonder if their collar shrunk in the wash. Then, you say, “He’s just really fluffy,” when friends ask why your dog or cat is so big. Until finally one day, you go to lift your pet and two things become evident:
- Your pet is overweight.
- You now need a chiropractor.
Pet obesity is rampant in the United States with approximately 56% of dogs and 60% of cats being classified as overweight. Just like humans, obesity doesn’t just affect your pet’s ability to fit into skinny jeans; it can also lead to a host of diseases and ultimately shorten their lifespan. Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to raise a healthy pet.
How to Tell if Your Pet is Overweight
While a scale is helpful for exact measurements, you don’t need one to determine if your furry best friend is at a healthy weight.
- You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs underneath a thin layer of fat.
- When you stand above them looking down, you should see an obvious waist.
When they are overweight, your pet may have more difficulty getting up and getting around and may tire easily. If you see this, your fur baby is in need of a lifestyle change.
How to Help Your Pet Lose Weight
A quick visit to your vet is in order to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing their weight gain. If your pet has a thyroid condition, getting their levels under control might help. In addition, illnesses like Cushing’s Disease presents as a bloated or pot-bellied tummy. Your vet will run tests to make sure that there is no underlying cause making Fluffy even fluffier. Once you’ve spoken to your vet, it’s time to examine possible lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
- If you aren’t already feeding your dog or cat a high-quality pet food, it’s time to upgrade. Cheap pet foods have fillers and low-quality ingredients that can contribute to weight gain.
- If your pet has a lot of weight to lose, consider switching to a low calorie food.
- Pay attention to the serving size. You may just be feeding them too much.
- If your dog inhales his food in one gulp, consider feeding him in a snuffle mat, or with a puzzle game to slow him down.
- If you feed them human foods, make sure you are giving them quality nutrition and not the grizzle left over from your plate.
- Switch to high-quality dog treats that are healthy and natural. If you live in Las Vegas, Mooch’s Munchies has a dog bakery you can visit. If that’s too far from you, you can purchase their treats online. Keep in mind that while these treats are healthy and good for your dog, they should still be given in moderation.
While the amount and intensity of exercise will vary based on the age and health of the animal, every pet needs some. The average for dogs is between 30 minutes and 2 hours each day. Larger breed dogs will need more than smaller breeds.
- A nice brisk walk (or as brisk as your overweight pup can handle at the moment) is the perfect way to start the day for them and for you!
- Play catch or tug with your pup. Anything that will get them moving and active is going to burn calories and improves their health. As they lose weight, you can increase the intensity.
But what about the KITTY CATS?
Cats should have 20 to 60 minutes of playtime each day, split into 10-15 minute segments.
- You can purchase a laser for them to chase around the house, find an entertaining wand with enticing streamers, or find a cat tower and place their food at the top so they have to work to get to it. Even a cat tunnel can provide easy yet stealthy playtime for your feline friend, they love it!
- If your cat is interested, put a harness on them and take them for a walk!
We know it’s hard… those pathetic little eyes staring up at you as if to say “Please sir, I haven’t eaten in six whole months” – even though you fed them an hour ago. However, keeping your dog or cat at a healthy weight will prolong their life and their enjoyment of it. To do this, they need a good diet, some quality exercise time, and remember to always treat responsibly.
Does Fluffy just need a haircut, or is a diet in order? Learn how to tell the difference in this fun and informative post - #treatresponsibly.