New Year, New Pet: Get Your Overweight Pet on Weight Loss, Exercise Plan
Whether you have a fat cat or a pudgy pup, the New Year is the perfect time to get your beloved family pet in shape. It’s not that they need to fit into a great bathing suit by summer, it is strictly for their health and well-being. Along with your own resolutions for 2017, add some for your pet as well.
As with people, overweight dogs are susceptible to various health risks that affect many organs, according to the article “Health Risks in Overweight or Obese Dogs” at Doctors Foster and Smith at Peteducation.com. “When we overload these organs, disease and sometimes death are the consequences,” the article said. Risks can manifest in the form of diabetes mellitus, damage to joints, heart disease, digestive disorders and many more.
Basically the same can be said for overweight cats as stated in “Health Risks in Overweight or Obese Cats” at Peteducation.com. “One of the most common complications of obesity in cats is the development of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).” Other consequences include liver disease, lameness and arthritis, and skin problems.
In the article “7 Surprising Ways To Help Your Pet Lose Weight (And Why It’s Important)” at Pethealthnetwork.com, Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, wrote, “…over half our nation’s dogs and cats are overweight. This means almost 80 million pets are at risk for developing crippling arthritis, debilitating diabetes, catastrophic kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure and many forms of cancer.”
Dr. Ward recommends seven tips to help get your pet back in tip-top shape:
- Calorie counts. Find out the amount of daily calories your pet needs by asking your veterinarian, and consult your vet before starting a diet because each pet has a different metabolism.
- Got measuring cup? Well use it, according to Dr. Ward. Don’t “guestimate.” He said, “After you calculate how many calories your pet needs, determine how much food you should feed each meal – and measure it.”
- It’s OK to give treats, but make sure they are not junk-food. Provide treats that are low calorie and no-sugar.
- Instead of store-bought dog treats, try baby carrots, green beans, cucumbers, bananas and sliced apples. “For cats, try a flake of salmon or tuna,” Dr. Ward wrote.
- Exercise! It’s good for you and your dog. “…anyone with a dog has a built-in, no-excuse exercise buddy,” Ward wrote. For dogs, 20-30 minutes of brisk walking helps with cardiovascular health. For cats, play with a laser pointer or remote-controlled toy for 5 to 15 minutes a day.
- “Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement,” Ward wrote. Consult your vet before using any supplement.
- Cutting carbs. Dr. Ward suggests a higher protein/low carb diet. However, he advises checking with your vet first.
Our pets are our family and we are responsible for their health. There’s no better time than now to achieve your pet’s weight-loss goals and keep him or her healthy to live a long life.