Surprisingly, more than 50% of dogs and cats are considered overweight or obese according to a new study. Overweight pets are at risk of developing medical issues and conditions, including breathing problems, diabetes, arthritis, and even some forms of cancer.
If your pet is suffering from obesity, there are some steps you can take to help your pet slim down. By keeping your pet healthy, he or she will be able to enjoy a much longer, happier life!
#1. Evaluate Your Pet’s Weight
If you’re not sure if your pet is overweight, it may be time to size him up. Take him into your veterinarian for a check up and ask about his body condition score (or BCS). Using this measurement system, your veterinarian will be able to quickly evaluate your pet’s weight and determine whether he is overweight, underweight, or at an optimal weight for his size. Normally, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs (but not see them) through a thin layer of flesh and fat. Your pet should also have a defined waist, which can be found between the hips and ribs.
#2. Measure Food Portions
If your veterinarian determines that your dog or cat is overweight, the next step is to make sure to give your cat or dog the appropriate portion of food so that he or she can maintain a healthy weight. Many pet owners simply fill up the bowl or make a rough estimate as to how much their dog or cat should be eating, but this is one of the major causes of excessive weight gain in animals. For example, if a cat eats even one extra teaspoon of food than what he needs per day (usually about 300 calories), they can gain a whole pound over the course of a year. For a 10 lb. cat, that is almost a 10% increase in body weight! So make sure that you are feeding your pets the right amount of food each day to help them maintain a healthy weight.
#3. Keep Your Pet Moving
Exercise is so important to maintaining good health, and it is just as important for pets as it is for humans! Daily exercise and a nutrient-rich, healthy diet are an unstoppable combination that will keep your pet healthy and happy for a lifetime. Taking your dog on a short 20-30 minute walk every day is all you need to do to improve immune function, cardiovascular health, and offset behavioral problems. For cats, five to fifteen minutes a day of play with a laser pointer or cat toy is typically enough to keep them healthy.