It is not uncommon for pets to be overweight or underweight. Managing your pet’s weight is an integral part of their life and overall health. Overweight and obese pets can have added stress on their bodies, leading to an increased risk of diabetes, liver problems and joint pain. According to a study by Zoetis, “veterinarians consider 47 percent of their patients overweight or obese, but only 17 percent of dog owners think the same.”
It can be challenging for some pet owners to recognize that their pets could be overweight, especially if your dog breed is naturally plump, like a pug or a bulldog. If you are looking for some tips on how to slim down your pet, we have you covered with a general guide on what you can do at home.
What you can do to slim down your pet
Trying to get your cat or dog to lose weight is no easy task. It may be time to bump up the exercise and reduce the number of treats given daily. The methods used to help slim down your pet depend on several factors: their breed, age, how severely they are overweight, any pre-existing medical conditions etc. You can certainly take measures at home to help your pet lose weight, and we have some helpful general tips for you below, depending on whether or not you have a cat or a dog.
What you can you do for cats
The first thing you can do to help your cat lose weight is to give them two to four portions daily and control the amounts fed. We need to stop thinking in terms of “cups of food” and start thinking about “ounces” of food. So for a seven-pound cat, a portion should come out between 0.6 and 1.0 ounces of food. In addition to portion control, you can also add a little warm water to wet or raw foods to increase the food volume to fill the stomach and help hydrate your kitty.
Cats are naturally active hunters, so getting their food should require some motion. Placing the food bowl “out of the way,” so they have to get up and actively go up the stairs or search for their food will help get them a bit of exercise every day. Of course, this will differ if you have a kitty that has physical challenges. In that case, the food should be accessible.
What you can you do for dogs
One way you can determine at home whether or not your dog is over (or under) weight is to do the knuckle test. Checking to see how much body fat they have around their ribs is a great way to get an idea about whether or not it’s time to slim down your pet.
If you (or your vet) conclude that your dog needs to lose weight, you can start by avoiding giving them any table scraps or human food. While it may seem harmless to slip your dog a piece of cheese, or cold cuts every so often, in the long run, this can have effects on maintaining a healthy weight. Cutting back on feeding them treats also goes hand in hand with this.
Free feeding your dog also allows them to overeat. Dogs love consistency and being on a schedule. Have set times for their feedings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Control your dogs’ portions and measure out their food, so they only eat what’s necessary.
Getting your dog on a weight loss exercise plan is also a great way to help them shed a few pounds! Increasing their exercise may be something you need to change gradually, but your pets will thank you later.
A great way to get them on a consistent exercise schedule is to hire a dog walker.
Contact your vet for more information
If you have a hard time figuring out if your pet is over or underweight, it may be worth taking a trip to see your vet. Extra pounds on a cat or dog means higher odds of having arthritis, heart and respiratory conditions, heat stroke, skin conditions and a whole range of other related health problems.
Your veterinarian can always provide more guidance and information on how to slim down your pet. They can also recommend the best foods to help your pet lose weight, portion control, and create a specific plan for your pet and their needs.