This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday. So, what better time is there to talk about your pet’s weight? Sadly, obesity is becoming a more common problem among animals in America. As your pet’s weight increases, their risk for health problems such as joint pain, diabetes and liver issues also grows. To help battle your pet’s bulge, here are a few tips to keep them healthy and happy. Before you adjust any dietary changes with your pet, make sure to first consult your veterinarian to ensure your pet continues to get the nutrition they need.
Change Your Behavior
A pet’s diet cannot change without commitment from the owner. A successful weight management program will work for your pet, but you will have to stick with it, which means you may have to alter your own behaviors. Maybe you give a few too many treats, or feed them table scraps, or avoid the daily walk for a day or two. For this to work for your pet, you need to make it work for you, too. Consider changing your routines. Remove the pet from the room when your family eats a meal and feed all of your pet’s meals from their dish. Lower the number of snacks and treats you feed and choose to reward them in other ways than just with food like extra play time or an extra walk throughout the day.
Monitor Their Weight
Each time you go in for your regular checkup, your pet should be weighed by your vet. This will help you keep record of your pet’s weight and whether or not there have been any drastic changes that could be concerning. Another way to monitor their weight at home is to weigh yourself on the scale and then weigh yourself while holding your pet. Subtract your weight from the latter and you will get a rough estimate as to what your pet’s weight is.
Just like in humans, regular exercise can be very beneficial to your pet’s overall health. Not only can this increase in activity help in both weight loss and maintenance, but regular exercise helps burn calories, lowers appetite, changes body composition and increases your pet’s resting metabolic rate. Consider walking your dog or chasing your cat around the house to help burn some of their calories. Whether you play fetch or have your cat chase a laser beam around the room, make exercising fun and your pets will be on board to a healthier lifestyle.
Watch What They Eat
There are many ways to show your pets you love them that don’t involve overfeeding. Even though they may give you those sad puppy dog eyes or bat at your hand begging for some scraps, don’t give in. Instead, sit down with your veterinarian and determine a suitable diet plan for your pet’s breed and size. Their diet should be well-rounded and include fiber and fat, but your vet can help you determine how many times you should feed them during the day and what sort of foods you should feed.
Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at AskBrian@hsdayton.org. Brian Weltge is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to building loving relationships between people and pets. Founded 113 years ago, it is the largest and most established “no-kill” animal welfare agency in the area. It focuses on pet adoptions, eliminating pet overpopulation, providing education and ensuring the humane treatment of animals. For more information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, call 937- 268-PETS (7387) or visit www.hsdayton.org.