Obesity isn't just a problem facing humans. Over the last few decades, the number of pets that are also overweight or obese can also significantly increased. Research carried out by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has discovered that around 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese.
Obesity in pets is just as problematic as it is in humans too. If your pet is carrying excess weight, they are more likely to also be affected by a range of associated health problems. This includes diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and even cancer. Not only could these conditions cause your pet to suffer unnecessarily, but they may also be reliant on medications for them to manage day to day - something which can be expensive and require regular visits to your veterinarian. Animals that are obese have a shorter lifespan than those who maintain a healthy weight.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to manage your pet's weight so that it remains healthy and stable. Here are our favorite tips for helping you to manage your pet's weight so that they can enjoy a long, healthy and active life.
Determine if Your Pet Needs to Lose Weight First
You shouldn't maintain your pet's current weight if it falls outside of the healthy ranges. In most instances, owners who are interested in weight management find that their pet needs to lose a few pounds first. However, it is unlikely that you know the precise measurement of your pet's current weight and since home scales generally aren't all that accurate, we recommend that you schedule your pet a weight evaluation appointment with your vet. If your pet needs to lose weight first, your professional will be able to help with this.
Take Advantage of Nutritional Counseling
An increasing number of vets are now offering a nutritional counseling service. Many people mistakenly believe that nutritional counseling is only for pets who need to lose weight, but it is actually a valuable service that evaluates your individual pet's nutritional requirements and current health and recommends a diet based on these. For example, if your pet has a diagnosis of arthritis and finds mobility a problem, they may benefit from a dietary supplement called glucosamine. Similarly, puppies need very different diets from adult dogs, and pregnant cats will have different nutritional needs to a senior feline. Your pet's nutritional counselor will be able to help you discover which diet is best for your pet.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most important aspects of maintaining your pet's weight is keeping control over what they are eating. Not only does this mean the right food, but also ensuring that you deliver appropriate portion sizes. You can easily overfeed your animal too many calories simply by serving up larger portion sizes. You will also need to monitor the treats that your pet has, and how much food if any, they get off of your table in the form of scraps. Everything your pet eats has calories, and sometimes it is the extra snacking that can be causing your pet to gain weight.
Get Plenty of Exercise Together
Exercise is, of course, the other key ingredient needed for weight maintenance. When your pet exercises, they burn calories which can help them to lose or maintain their weight. Regular exercise is also important for keeping your pet's cardiovascular and respiratory systems functioning well.