Some of us resolve to learn new skills in the New Year. Some of us resolve to improve on skills we already have. Many of us resolve to eat healthier, exercise more and lose a bit of weight. Your pet’s resolutions may also follow the same guidelines – new tricks, old tricks and a healthy body.
Obesity in pets can cause many of the same problems as it can in people. An overweight pet is prone to many problems such as: diabetes, joint/ligament/tendon problems, breathing problems and heart problems. Being overweight can also cause dogs and cats to develop skin and hygiene issues from not being able to reach areas and groom themselves properly.
Healthy pets do have some padding over their bodies, but a little padding goes a long way. To assess your pet’s body condition, first rub your hands over their ribs. The skin should move back and forth easily and you should be able to feel the ribs without having to press down too hard. Look at your pet’s waistline. Your pet should have a definable “waist” beginning at the bottom of their rib cage. You will notice the abdomen should tuck in slightly between the rib cage and hip area.
Crash diets are not safe for pets (especially overweight cats since they are prone to developing fatal liver problems if they stop eating or are forced to reduce their food intake amounts to quickly). A pet doesn’t become obese overnight and shouldn’t be expected to lose weight rapidly. It may take 4-6 weeks before you notice any change in their weight once they are started on a new diet and exercise plan. Slow and steady wins the race! You may bring your pet in and weigh them on our scales at any time to track their weight loss progress.
To help your pet lose weight, follow these tips:
- Consider a diet change. There are many low calorie diets available that can help your pet feel full after each meal.
- Maintain portion control (treats must be accounted for in these portions!) and invest in an accurate measuring cup.
- Try splitting meal portions. Sometimes your pet may be happier with two or three feedings per day, rather than just one. Just remember to divide the total portion for the day without any extras (including those tasty treats!).
- Walk or play away the weight. A combination of diet and exercise will help any pet lose weight.
- About those pesky treats again – feed healthier, low calorie treats. Many treats on the market are very high in fat, salt and calories.
Playing new games with your pets, teaching them new tricks and practicing old tricks is great to keep their brains sharp and healthy for 2014. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment and can be very stimulating and rewarding for everyone. Good spirits and a healthy brain and body lead to a long, fulfilling life. Cheers to 2014!