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Overweight pet resolution

February 22 is national walk your dog day. This week, we are going to discuss something that may still be on a few people’s mind… losing weight. For year’s losing weight and eating healthy has been at the top of their New Year’s resolutions. But why not make a resolution of having a healthier, thinner pet?

 

In a 2015 survey, the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53.8% of dogs and 58.2% of cats were overweight or obese. Just like in humans, being overweight puts your pet at risk for all kinds of illnesses and diseases.

  • Arthritis
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothroidism
  • Ruptured Cruciate ligament
  • Pancreatitis
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Heat intolerance
  • Heart disease
  • Oral disease
  • Dermatologic disease
  • Urinary disease
  • Neoplasia (abnormal growth of tissues)
  • Lower Urinary tract disease
  • Decrease resistance to viral and bacteria infections
  • Constipation

I read a statement that put overweight pets into an interesting perspective. The ideal body weight for most cats is 8 to 10 pounds. If that cat was a 5’4″ adult female, she’d weigh a healthy 108 to 145 pounds. However, if a cat weighs 14 pounds, its 5’4″ human equivalent would now be more than 200 pounds.

 

If you’re questioning whether your four-legged friend is overweight, there are some ways to tell. Are you having difficulty feeling their ribs? Is their belly sagging (and swaying back and forth when they walk)? Does your pet have a broad, flat back with no waist? If you answered yes, then those are signs of obesity. One of our vets at MVVS can confirm your suspicions and discuss the best way for your pet to lose weight. This may be as simple as feeding a little less food or switching to scheduled feedings. They may suggest – not completely cutting out treats but switch from the treats you are feeding to baby carrots and green beans. Another good way to help your pet lose weight is by making your pet work for their food. Food puzzles or toys that make them work for their food like Buster Food Cube will keep your pet from being bored and burn calories as they are eating. Exercise is important in all aspects of life. Keeping your pet moving will keep them healthier longer. Most exercises will require attention from you – which is really what your pet craves.

 

If your pet is obese or older and overweight, there are a few exercises you can do to start out slowly with them.

  1. Step-ups – Have your dog put both front legs on a step. Doing this will shift his/her weight to his/her hind legs. Hold this position for a minute. When your pet becomes stronger and more comfortable with this (and if his/her size allows it), see if he can reach the next step.
  2. Sit to Stands – Ask your dog to sit, stand and repeat. Building up to 10-15 repetitions twice a day. If your dog knows other commands/tricks, have them repeat the “sit to stands” routine.

Remember to reward your pet every few reps to keep him/her engaged – rewards not in treat but in praise.
If you have a cat, there are a few different “exercises” you can do.

  1. Get them moving by playing with toys. I have a cat at home that plays fetch. Laser pointers can work for a little bit but you must provide an actual toy for them when you’re ready to stop playing with the laser. Cats need a tangible “caught prey” or they will become obsessive about looking for that little red dot.
  2. Have your cat “hunt” for their food by hiding small bowls of food around the house or placing the food on an elevated platform.
  3. Another option to get them moving and feed them at the same time is to toss kibble by kibble across the floor.

 

Just like making slight changes to your lifestyle to lose weight, you can do the same for your pet that shows you unconditional love.

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