Whether portly, pudgy or just plain fat, we all know chubby animals are adorable. There’s just more of them to love! But the truth of the matter is an overweight pet faces many health challenges that can decrease his quality of life and shorten his lifespan. That means an unhappy animal and less time for you to enjoy his company.
If you’re eyeing your pet now and wondering if it’s time to put him or her on animal Weight Watchers, you’re not alone. Over 100 million pets are estimated to be overweight. That’s a lot of fat animals! It’s also a lot of animals who need help from their owners to slim down to a healthy weight. If you’re ready to take control of your pet’s weight and health, here’s seven ways you can begin today.
Weight Loss Tip No. 1: Get Them Moving
Animals are naturally active until we humans lure them into a comfortable sedentary lifestyle as our pets. Luckily it doesn’t take much to bring out their wild side again. Just 20-30 minutes of brisk walking a day is an adequate amount of exercise for most dogs (and good for you too).
Tempting your cat into 5-15 minutes of chasing toys or a laser pointer light is the perfect workout for him and entertainment for you.
Weight Loss Tip No. 2: Learn about Calories
Limiting calories for pets is just as important as it is for humans, but most pet owners don’t know how much food their animal really needs. Pet food bags are notoriously generous with suggested portions, so ask your vet for a better calculation of what your pet needs.
Or use this formula to calculate it yourself: Divide your pet’s weight by 2.2, multiply by 30 and add 70. Your final number is how many calories your pet needs in a day.
Weight Loss Tip No. 3: Measure Food
Once you know an appropriate number of calories to feed your furry friend, you can measure correct portions into their bowl. Don’t rely on eye-balling or guessing how much you’re giving them. Use an actual measuring cup or spoon, and don’t give them access to unlimited food!
Weight Loss Tip No. 4: Feed Them Healthy Foods
To help reduce calories, offer pets healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins in lieu of treats. Many dogs enjoy fresh produce. Just be sure to look up what’s safe for them. Cats, on the other hand, enjoy lean salmon or tuna as a treat.
Weight Loss Tip No. 5: Cut Carbs
Unfortunately, most traditional pet foods have a lot of carb-heavy fillers in them. Animals like dogs and cats need more protein than these pet foods provide. Look at the labels on different kinds of commercial pet food to find one with a better balance of protein and carbohydrates, and ask your vet for suggestions if you’re struggling.
Weight Loss Tip No. 6: Limit Treats
Treats are great, within reason. Count pet treats in their calories for the day, and give your little buddy low-calorie, sugarless treats. The less processed the better. It doesn’t make sense to measure out their diet-friendly dinner kibble and then spoil your efforts by loading them up with fatty, sugary treats!
Weight Loss Tip No. 7: Supplement Smart
It is thought that some supplements can help your pet lose weight by optimizing their health in other ways. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids can relieve achy joints and encourage more weight-reducing activity.
In some studies, L-carnitine has been shown to promote lean muscle mass and aid weight loss in animals. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend the right supplements for your pet’s weight loss and health.
Don’t Wait for Weight Loss
In nature, animals exert a lot of energy trying to survive and therefore maintain healthy weights much easier than our pampered domestic pets. That’s why it’s up to you to help your pet stay trim and healthy. If you haven’t been doing this before, start making changes today. Most pets only need some tweaks to their current activity levels and diets to start losing weight.
If you don’t make these changes, the health consequences for your pet could be tragic. You love your pet, extra pounds and all, but they’ll thank you for saving their health and their life by helping them lose that excess weight.
Concerned about your furry friend’s weight? Give the experts at Academy Animal Hospital a call, and they can give you the guidance you need to get your pet’s weight back on track for better health.