Obesity in pets is a growing epidemic. In 2014, nearly 60% of cats and 53% of dogs were overweight or obese, according to a study conducted by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
Not only does excess weight drastically decrease the lifespan of our companion animals and lower their quality of life, it can also lead to a slew of other health issues, such as:
- Cushing's Disease
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
Below is a body condition scale that will help determine if your pet is carrying around a few extra pounds--click it to enlarge. This visual test might prove a bit more difficult for fluffier breeds, but is a great tool overall.
VCA Animal Hospitals suggests another at-home test to determine if your pet is at a healthy weight:
“If you hold your hand palm down and feel your knuckles with the flats of the fingers on the opposite hand, this is how your dog’s ribs should feel just behind the shoulder blades.”
How can I help my pet lose weight?
Pet parents can implement a variety of tactics for weight loss and management: Feed Less
The first step should be reading the label on your pet’s food. Each pet food maker has a set of feeding guidelines that will determine how much food your pet should receive based on their recommended weight.
Feeding less includes treats! There are many ways to positively reward your pet for good behavior or learning a new trick, such as praise, attention and affection.
If you simply can’t resist giving treats, try Honest Kitchen Beams or Tomlinson’s Chicken Chips. These single-ingredient treats will make your pet feel extra special without too many extra calories.
Please note- feeding less does NOT mean deprivation or starvation. Just as skipping meals is not recommended for human weight loss, it isn’t healthy for our pets. Feeding gradually smaller meals will keep your pet full and satisfied while working on their figure.
Incorporate Whole Foods
Pumpkin and lean meats like fish and chicken will help your pet get the protein he needs and feel full without filling up on low-quality fillers like corn or soy.
For more whole foods you can add to your pet’s diet, click here.
Higher Quality Food
Sorry, Moose. When watching your weight, you only get one treat.
We now know that fillers like corn, soy and wheat aren’t so great for our pets, yet many pet food companies still include them in their formulas. Switching to a high quality food will mean more of the good stuff, like protein and select fruits and vegetables, and less fattening fillers.
Before making the switch, check out our top five things to consider when choosing a pet food, and follow up with our tips on how to successfully transition your pet’s diet.
Stick to a Feeding Schedule
Always leaving plenty of food out for your dog or cat is known as free feeding. While this may seem like you’re ensuring your pet will never go hungry, many don’t know that they should stop eating when they’re full. This will lead to obesity and other health issues in a hurry.
A better option would be to create a feeding schedule for Fido and Fluffy. Follow the recommended serving size, and feed two to four small meals a day.
Just like us humans, our pets also need exercise. Is your pet seriously out of shape? Start small- try playing fetch or chase in your backyard and work up to long walks and trips to the dog park.
An added bonus? These activities strengthen the bond between you and your pet!
Rio demonstrates how to make exercise fun- with a game of Frisbee!
Read more about pet exercise here.
How much weight should my pet be losing?
According to PetMD, you should be aiming for a 1%-2% loss from the original weight per week. For example, if an overweight dog weighs 100 pounds, the goal would be to lose 1-2 pounds per week until reaching the ideal weight. While Team Tomlinson’s is happy to help get your furry friend on the path towards a healthier lifestyle, it’s best to first consult your veterinarian if you feel your pet is overweight. We’d love to hear how you helped your once- plump pet shed those excess pounds. Share in the comments below or over on our Facebook page
! Sources: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, VCA Animal Hospitals, PetMD