Obesity shortens lives! Check out our tips to help maintain your pet’s weight!

 

obese-dog

We see it all the time. A funny video of a fat cat online, barely able to jump onto a ledge. A chubby dog that can hardly get through his doggy door. Thousands of pictures of fat animals laying on their side with a hilarious caption about being lazy or not wanting to exercise. While very amusing to be sure, obesity in animals is just as serious as it is for humans. However we are much more likely to overlook our pet’s weight problems at the expense of their health due to either ignorance, laziness or just not caring. That’s why it is important to be informed about your pet’s weight and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, so you can spend as much time with them as possible.

There are several ways to help control your animal’s weight. While many seem obvious, you should always consult a veterinarian first before trying anything, even a simple diet.

First, of course, is portion control. Are you leaving food out all the time? This alone is a huge cause of weight gain in domestic pets. When your cat or dog can eat anytime they want, then they end up consuming far more daily calories than is necessary. Yes, you might only see them take a little bit at a time, but each small portion adds up when they can do it many times a day. Maintaining strict food control is extremely important in ensuring that they only eat as much as required.

When trying to help them lose weight, cutting back on their food at first can be trying. They may be used to eating all the time and can become irritable, but after while they will get used to it. Again, please remember to consult a veterinarian before you attempt a diet for your pets. Cats especially need to have carefully portioned amounts of food, or they can suffer from hepatic lipidosis, otherwise known as Fatty Liver Disease. Cutting back too dramatically on their food intake can cause this, so always be sure before you do anything.

The next issue is very closely tied to the first. Treats. Are you giving your pet too many? Dogs especially can take in way more than they need due to eating too many pet treats or worse, human food. Some dog owners give their dog a treat each time they go to the bathroom, each time they set down to eat, and sometimes just because the dog has become used to getting a treat at a certain time. Cut down on this by limiting the amount of treats you hand out and if you must give them one, try training treats. They are generally very small, contain less calories and still perform the same function.

Finally, exercise. Even some of us find this to be a chore at times and your pets can be no different. Cats especially, due to their domestic lifestyle, can easily fall into a downward spiral of obesity. If you have the rare cat that likes to go running with you, congratulations! You have it easy and probably should film this too when it happens. For the rest of us, there are several ways to help get your cat burn some calories. Change where they eat occasionally. This works especially well if you have a two story home, as they have to travel farther for their meal. Try to also find time and play with them at least twice a day for ten minute intervals. Laser pointers, sticks with fake mice on the end; anything to make them move around just a bit more than they normally would.

Fortunately, dogs are much easier. Walks are top of the list. Get out there and walk your dog at least once a day, ideally for at least twenty minutes. Not only will this help them, but give you a great chance to exercise as well. Throwing balls, socializing at dog parks, doggy day care; all of this will have your dog moving around much more than a lazy day at home.

Remember, animal obesity can have as much effect on animals as it does humans. It shortens their lifespan, causes serious issues later in life and overall makes for a less enthusiastic pet. Even if you suspect your pet looks fine, it is always important to check with a veterinarian to be sure they are at the optimal weight. Keep your pets feeling fit, healthy and happy and you will have a friend for many more years to come.

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