If your pet is carrying a few extra pounds, you’re not alone. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Those numbers are alarming enough on their own, but add to them the health risks that come with obesity – an increase in the likelihood of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing difficulties, joint injuries, and cancer – and they become downright dire.
What contributes to a pet becoming obese? The reasons vary. Sometimes it’s as simple as a lack of exercise and too much food. Age can play a role, too. As pets get older, their energy levels drop, and that often coincides with a tendency to exercise less. And pets who’ve been spayed or neutered gain weight faster than pets who haven’t been sterilized.
Regardless of the reasons behind your pet’s weight problem, there are several steps you can take to help your fluffy friend get back into his or her skinny collar, including:
- Measuring your pet’s food to make sure you’re not overfeeding
- Feeding your pet a prescription food formulated specifically to aid in weight loss. (We recommend Royal Canin or Hill’s products.)
- Placing food in toys that require interaction with your dog or cat to receive a food reward
- Making sure to walk your dog 3-4 times a week and play with your cat for at least 20 minutes every day
- Hiding kibble around the house so that your pet must hunt for food. (If you have a cat, consider putting it high on a kitty tree)
- Spreading meals out throughout the day (note: make sure the total amount fed for the day is the correct amount)
- Playing with your cat or dog using love and attention, not treats
- Making use of pet-focused fitness apps like Whistle and FitBark
- Getting health conditions under control. Some illnesses, like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, can cause weight gain in pets. It’s important for you to work closely with your veterinarian to manage these medical issues.
If you’re worried about your pet’s weight, we’re here to help. Lakeview Veterinary Hospital offers nutrition counseling as one of our suite of services aimed at keeping your best friend healthy and happy over the course of its lifetime. We’re more than happy to answer any questions you have about feeding and exercise. Just call (504) 482-2173 to talk to one of our nutrition experts today!