Obesity in pets is an ongoing issue that seems to be getting worse. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) states 54% of dogs and 59% of cats were overweight or obese as of 2016. The numbers have been increasing greatly since 2012. Obesity can lead to many different life threatening conditions. Joint damage, difficulty breathing, increased risk of cancer are just to name a few. As pet owners it is up to us to regulate their food consumption to help them live a long and healthy life.
Have a discussion with your veterinarian about weight control. Your veterinarian can help construct a proper weight management program that works for you and your pet. There are special veterinary diets that can help aid in weight management, as well as increasing daily exercise and activity.
Once you and your veterinarian have a plan set out for your pet, you can make better choices for the overall health and weight management of your pet. Technology has made it easy for us to control feedings with timed automatic feeders.
When trying to manage weight there’s always the question, “To Treat or Not to Treat?” Your vet can offer best options treat wise for your pet’s weight management program. Choosing treats that are low calorie are key. Veterinary approved lean treats are a great option, or treats approved with your pet’s prescription diet, or kibbles from their measured meals can be used as treats too. Your vet can recommend safe fruits and vegetables to give as well. Feeding your pet table scraps can mean a huge caloric intake even in something small like a single piece of cheese and should be avoided if possible.
Exercise and play is super important for healthy weight. Physical activity burns calories and balances the input vs. Output of calories. Toys are also essential for weight management as they too promote physical activity.
Making better choices with what your feeding your pet, how often they eat and get treats and increasing physical activity will help keep your pet healthy and add years onto their lives.