We know that it is so hard not to feed your pet as many treats as his little heart desires, especially when he looks at you with those big brown eyes. However, overfeeding your pet could put him in serious danger. Overweight pets are more at risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis. Not to mention they may not be able to keep up with their friends while at play!
Assessing your pet’s bodyweight is not hard. Most of the time, you can simply look at your pet to determine if he is the correct weight. If you pet is at the ideal weight, you can feel his ribs, but not see them. If you can see them, he is too skinny, but if you cannot feel them, he is overweight. Dogs and cats should have a tapered waist rather than an oval belly. If a pet has a protruding belly and excessive neck fat, he may even be obese.
You can also research your pet’s body condition score chart, specific to each breed. These show pictures of pets weight classes, and what the ideal body shape for your pet should be. Most websites rate bodies from 1-5 or 1-10, with the ideal body shape falling somewhere towards the middle. This provides a visual way for you to see if your pet matches the picture of the ideal body weight.
The best way to determine if your pet is overweight is to take him to the veterinarian. Your pet’s vet can determine precisely how much weight your pet needs to lose, and can help you figure out a plan for your pet to shed the pounds. The vet can recommend a diet plan specific for your pet’s needs and can help you figure out which food is right for your pet. However, if you can’t make it to see the vet immediately and want to start your pet on a weight-loss plan, we’ve outlined a few tips below.
1. Do not simply feed your pet less of the same food. Check your pet food quality (We recommend only feeding your pets food with 4 or 5 stars on http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/). Pet food should provide quality ingredients and nutrients for your pets.
2. If you regularly leave food out, you may need to start scheduling meals. If you pet is on good-quality food and still overweight, he may be eating too much. If you constantly leave food out, schedule meals. If you already feed your pet regular meals, you may need to reduce portion sizes.
3. Cut back on the treats. Treats should only make up 10% maximum of your pet’s diet, and food should be reduced accordingly. If you still want to feed your pet frequent treats, break them into smaller pieces.
4. Moderate the table scraps. A small treat for a human, such as a potato chip, could be a big treat for a dog! Since dogs are much smaller than people (usually), they require fewer calories. Cut back on giving your pet table scraps, and if you do be sure to reduce portion sizes accordingly.
5. Take your dog on brisk walks each day. Do not allow him to stop and smell every bush; only let him stop for potty breaks.
6. The dog park is a great place for dogs to get exercise. We recommend taking dogs to the dog park several times a week to provide adequate exercise and a fun social experience!
7. If you have a cat, you can encourage him to exercise by playing with lasers, toys, and climbing posts.
We hope these tips help you and your pet! If you have any questions or need additional assistance, call us to schedule an appointment or simply stop in!