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As Spring begins to transition to Summer we all could benefit from losing some of those extra pounds we may have put on from not doing much over the long winter, and our pets are the same. Sometimes pets start to look a little pudgy around the tummy. Aesthetic issues aside, it could radically reduce their life span. Here are some things you can do.
Part 1: Dogs
- Determine if your dog is truly overweight. You should be able to locate your dogs ribs and spine relatively easily—a healthy dog has only a thin layer of fat between the skin and bones
- Talk to your vet about portion size. Because it varies so drastically from dog breed to dog breed, it’s not possible to have a set portion size. Ask your vet how much your pet should be eating, and how often. Stick to his/her advice.
- Limit snacks and treats between meals. Even if you’re feeding your dog proper portions at meal time, extra treats and people food between meals can quickly lead to an overweight pet.
- Find healthy substitutes for fatty treats. Many dogs love carrots—consider giving those in lieu of fatty bones when you wish to reward your dog. Rice cakes are another healthy alternative.
- Stay strong against begging. It may break your heart to hear your dog whining, but remember that your dog is not starving—he’s probably learned that whining will result in a treat and is playing you to get one. Instead, it’s best to break this habit by ignoring begging and whining.
- Invest in a name-brand diet formula food for your dog. Newman’s Own and AvoDerm are both brands known to have positive effects on your dogs’ weight . If your dog has a very serious weight issue, you may want to talk to your vet about a prescription food.
- Exercise your dog. Just like humans, dogs need exercise to stay fit. Make sure your dog gets at least one long walk a day. If you don’t feel up for a long walk, consider taking your dog to a park and throwing a ball or frisbee for 20 minutes or so. If you cannot take the time, consider paying some kids on your block or hiring a dog walker.
- Use medication as a last resort. If you’ve done everything and your dog is still not losing weight, consider an Rx like Slentrol. However, this should only be used as a last resort after talking with your vet.
Part 2: Cats
- Determine if your cat is overweight. You should be able to easily see your cat’s waist when looking at it from the top. You should be able to feel it when running your hands from your cat’s ribs to its hips (it should be indented). Finally, you should be able to feel your cats ribs
- Allow your cat to exercise. If your cat isn’t an outdoor cat, invest in toys and climbing structure to ensure that your cat has incentive to play. Make your cat work for its food. Consider putting your cats food in a foraging device like a ball with holes, requiring it to play and work before it can eat.
- Realize that the specifications on the side of food bags are often well above what your cat actually needs. Those specifications are designed for a highly active, unspayed or non-neutered cat, whereas most house cats are relatively inactive and fixed.
- Transition slowly. For many cats, the food and food dish that they’re used to are signs of security. Place the new food in a bowl next to the old food for a while, then you can remove the old food all together.
- Talk to your vet. Consider other causes besides overeating for your cat’s obesity, such as diseases or side effects of a drug.
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