Pet weight control is a common issue pet owners face. Just as obesity creates many health issues in humans it likewise has similar effects on our pets. Health risks include diabetes, liver problems, joint issues (especially in older pets) as well as other problems.
Obesity is a simple matter of energy intake exceeding the energy requirements of the animal. Excess energy is stored as fat which leads to weight gain. The typical cause is a combination of overfeeding (don’t forget to include the treats when you think about this) combined with a lack of proper exercise.
Keep in mind that a pets internal energy consumption will fall as they age and become less active (sound familiar?).
If you and your veterinarian determine your pet is overweight then there needs to be adjustment in both the pet and the owners behavior/activities. Typically all areas must be addressed in order to be successful. Although important, simply lessening your pets food amount will not likely give the desired results.
Diet: This includes food and treats. Giving a few high calorie treats throughout the day can add up. Fortunately, the problem is common enough with dogs that manufacturers have developed many low calorie dog treats .
Paragon makes a potato based low fat dog treat called Veggie Ear Dog Treats that is a healthy alternative. While it is unfortunate that the same selection is not available for cats you can consult with your veterinarian of appropriate treat changes, such as using popcorn, that may meet your pets needs. Keep in mind you (and everybody in the household) need to count the calories and treats given on a daily basis for this to work.
Determine the appropriate amount of food to give your pet with your veterinarian. If necessary, change to a low fat dog food. Calculate the amount that should be given and measure it out for every feeding. Consistency is very important in executing a plan to reduce your pets calories intake
Exercise: Regular exercise is important to your pets health in many ways. Not only does it burn calories while your pet is exercising but regular activity raises the resting metabolic rate allowing for increased calorie burn at rest. If this is not a current part of your schedule you may need to think about how this can be part of your daily regimen. It is usually not easy for us to change what we do day to day so some serious thought needs to be given to how to effectively include some pet exercise time in our families day.
This is also a great bonding experience with your pet and they will look forward to your attention.