Jelly Belly: Helping Your Pet Lose Lose Weight This Spring
Now that the long winter is coming to a close, you may have noticed that your pet, like so many of us, has gained a few pounds. Winter fat is a problem for several pets because they aren’t as active as they are in the warmer months. Couple this with the busy holidays, and those daily exercise needs probably went to the wayside.
Now that spring is here, it’s a good time to get outside and get moving with your furry loved one. Here are some tips to help your pet lose weight and get back into a better state of health.
Is Your Pet Overweight?
Determining whether a pet is overweight can be tricky. After all, what’s cuter than a portly pug or a chunky chow? There is still the idea that a hefty pet is a healthy and happy one. But that usually isn’t the case.
Overweight pets have many of the same problems overweight humans do, including an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, lung disorders, and heart disease.
There are some ways you can determine if your pet is overweight, the first and most important way is to ask your veterinarian. They can give you insight into the right weight for your four-legged and suggested portion control, nutrition, and exercise.
You can also examine your pet. While looking at them from the side angle, do they have an upward slope to the torso? Or does the tummy drop down? Looking at them from above, do they have a natural waistline? Your pet’s midsection should have some slope and contour. If they don’t, they are likely overweight.
5 Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight
It’s easy to allow your pet to gain weight because most pets, especially dogs, adore mealtime. And since we love our pets and want to make them happy, it is easy to succumb to the temptation of doling out treats as a good reward for a loved pet.
Couple this with the lack of exercise during winter, and you can create problems for your pet, pound-wise. The good news, though, is that great weather is here and the chance for you and your pet to get into shape.
- Consult your veterinarian. Before you switch your pet’s diet or add in new exercise, make sure it is recommended. It can be dangerous for a pet to drop weight quickly, and a switch in routine can cause them to become ill or create stress. Get the insight and guidance from your vet before changing the routine drastically.
- Exercise your pet daily. Just like us, the solution to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. Plan on spending at least 20 minutes each day in active play with your pet. This might include walks, a jog to the park together, or a game of fetch, or any type of activity that gets your pet moving.
- Stick to the right meal portions and limit treats. Along with exercise, it is important to measure out your pet’s meals. Stick to set times in the morning and the afternoon instead of free feeding all day. Look at the portion size suggestions on the packaging of your pet’s kibble. Most manufacturers have guidelines based on your pet’s size. Your veterinarian may also have suggestions on a diet for your pet if they are overweight or obese. Keep treats to a minimum, if you must give them treats. Consider the calories with each one you give out.
- Up your pet’s energy. If your pet is fit and healthy, they may need more than a simple walk to keep them at their healthiest. Try adding interactive games or ones that are challenging to them mentally and physically, such as a backyard agility course for your dog or a Cat Dancer for your kitty.
- Use positive verbal cues and playtime as rewards. If you have come to rely on treats as your pet’s only reward, gradually switch to something that doesn’t pack on the pounds. Use your time and attention as a reward instead.
We know that the battle of the bulge can beat us all if we let our diet and exercise go to the wayside.
If your pet is struggling with additional weight, please call the team at Dickinson Animal Hospital and Pet Wellness Center for an appointment. We can get them back into good shape and health through recommended diet, exercise, and overall wellness.