Many of us make resolutions that pertain to decreasing the size of our waistline.
Sadly, many pets need their owners to make – and keep – resolutions pertaining to their waistlines too. Obesity rates in pets are increasing and now parallel the growing number American adults with a weight problem.
Fifty-five percent of dogs and 59.5 percent of cats are overweight or obese, according to reports from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
Fat is a biologically active tissue, and excess fat tissue can wreak havoc on a pet’s metabolism. Cats with excessive body weight are at significantly higher risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Overweight and obese dogs also have increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, heat exhaustion, and cancer. Obese animals also have increased anesthetic risk should they require surgery.
Weight Loss Tips for Pets
Losing weight involves strategically and carefully decreasing calories (while preserving critical nutrients) and gradually increasing exercise. Sound familiar? Yes, we humans go through the same process to lose weight!
Please consult us before starting your pet on a diet. We will help you determine the proper number of calories, the type of diet, and the amount of exercise your pet needs each day, based on several factors:
- your pet’s weight and metabolism
- whether your pet is spayed or neutered
- your pet’s age
- typical daily activity your pet currently gets
- whether your pet is indoors or outdoors, or both
Measure & Track
Once you know how many calories per day your pet should be eating, you’ll want to measure and track how much you feed your pet. Studies show that feeding even 10 extra tiny kibbles per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in small dogs and indoor cats!
Avoid Sugary Treats
Cut back on the treats, please! You don’t want to sabotage your efforts to help your pet lose weight by “rewarding” him with sugar- and fat-laden treats. As little as 30 extra calories per day can result in a weight gain of more than three pounds a year (kind of like humans gain weight when we inhale high-calorie drinks, donuts, and snack crackers).
When you give your pet a treat, look for healthful low-calorie, no-sugar goodies. Some treats offer the added bonus of helping keep your pet’s teeth clean. Ask us to recommend healthy goodies.
Monitor Serving Size
Break those treats into teeny-tiny pieces. Your pet can’t do math — she won’t realize that you’re rewarding her with half a treat!
Healthier Options than Store-Bought Treats
- Dogs: small slices of apple, banana, baby carrots, broccoli, green beans
- Cats: a flake of tuna or salmon
Exercise With Your Pet Every Day
Of course, daily exercise is a must. Exercise helps regulate weight and behavior, boosts your pet’s immune function, and improves cardiovascular health.
Take your dog on a brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes.
Actively play with your cat for 5 to 15 minutes per day, using a cat toy, remote-controlled battery mice, practice golf balls (the ones with holes in them), or a wad of paper.
The health benefits of exercising with your pet will rub off on both of you!
Ask for Help
At Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, we have an arsenal of creative and time-proven strategies that may be helpful in your efforts to improve your pet’s weight, including what to do if some members of your family have a hard time accepting or adhering to a pet’s new health régime.
Please call us at 206-323-4433 for an appointment if you’d like to discuss your pet’s weight and set up an exercise plan.
Here’s to the health of you and your family, both human and furry.