Written by Dr. Lindsay Renzullo
Almost everyone can empathize how hard it can be to maintain a healthy weight for your pet. We have all lost a battle to a cookie or ice cream sundae, and we can directly see the impact that eating unhealthy can have on our own bodies. Carrying around excessive weight can lead to secondary problems in humans, and the same is true for our furry friends. Diabetes, joint pain/arthritis, respiratory problems, grooming difficulties are just a few issues that can be linked to obesity in pets.
Starting a weight loss journey for your pet:
- Remember this is not something that will happen overnight. Pets for the most part, weigh significantly less than humans, therefore a 2 lb weight loss/week for a human would be great but for a 10-pound cat it can be very dangerous.
- Different diets contain different caloric content. There are some prescription based diets that are formulated specifically for weight loss and they give specific guidelines on how much to feed to achieve healthy weight loss.
- Cookies and other per-packaged treats can contain a TON of calories. In some cases, a single cookie or treat given to a smaller dog may be the equivalent of a serving of fast food fries for a human. Many dogs and cats love healthy treat options like carrots or watermelons.
Healthy Treat Alternatives:
- Apples – without seeds or core
- Carrots – raw or cooked
- Watermelon – without seeds
- Frozen bananas
- Green beans
- Catnip or cat grass
- Sweet potato -plain & cooked
Treats to Keep Away From!
- Macadamia nuts
- Fruits with pits (peaches, plums etc)
Exercise should not be overlooked!
- Indoor only cats tend to become very accustomed to sleeping and lounging around, burning very few calories each day. Try to engage your friendly feline with new toys or rotate toys in the house so they are novel and fun to play with. Cat nip can be a great resource to get our cats up and moving and grooving and providing cat trees to climb and scratch are a wonderful resource.
- Dogs should get to have at LEAST one big walk a day, but it is ideal to aim for more. If your dog likes other canines to play with check out some dog parks in your area.
If you have decided you want to start healthy eating/healthy exercising habits with your animal, speak to your veterinarian before starting any regiment. It is important to gauge how much weight your pet should lose, how fast they should lose it, and any specific concerns to monitor or address while on your journey.