Bathing suit is just around the corner (maybe not in Wisconsin, but it’s Spring somewhere!), and the longer days usually gives us more motivation to shed our “winter weight”. But have you checked out Fido and Fluffy’s physique lately? According to APOP’s (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) 2011 survey, it was revealed that 53% of dogs, and 55% of cats, are overweight or obese (and that number is steadily increasing). This week, Wisconsin Pet Care will help you assess your pet’s weight, as well as offer helpful advice on slimming them down and regaining their overall health and wellness.
A “pudgy” tummy doesn’t seem like it will do much harm, but there is a direct correlation to life expectancy and your dog or cat’s waistline. Diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure are just a few of the more common health issues associated with obesity in pets. However, the saddest symptom of your pet’s weight issues is the decreased quality of life. It shouldn’t be hard for them to run, jump or play – all of these things come naturally to a vibrant and healthy animal.
So how can you, the in-the-know, proactive pet parent, tackle this epidemic head-on? Start at home! You can determine whether your pet is overweight yourself (when looking at your pet from above, they should have a “figure” – a gentle curve just below the waist – and from the side, their tummy should be “tucked up” (not flat across) at their hind legs) or you can utilize your veterinarian for his diagnosis. If it is certain that your pet needs to slim down, try some of these hints to get your pup or kitty in purr-fect shape!
*Switch out your pet’s feeding bowls AND the utensils you use to measure their food. What’s that, you’re not using something to measure your pet’s food? Well, perhaps that’s okay if you might consider purchasing a smaller bowl. A lot of pet owners purchase big bowls to accommodate a lot of kibble (mostly kitties and dogs who free-feed), and filling it to the brim could be putting your four-legged friend on the fast-track to fat. If you measure a 1/2 cup of food, it’s not going to look like much when you add it to a humongous bowl. However, a tiny bowl will make her meal look abundant!
*What you are feeding your pet is as important as how much you are feeding your pet. The fact of the matter is: Your kitty is going to find it MUCH easier to gain weight on a high-carb diet. No matter how much portion you control you exhibit with kibble, the grains will make her gain. If you still aren’t convinced (after our countless plugs for quality nutrition) to feed your pets a raw diet, grab a can of the wet stuff. It’s just as easy and accessible as the kibble, but it has way less of the garbage cats can’t digest inside. Reach for the “grain-free” formulas, from manufacturers such as Wellness or Blue Buffalo – which are found at any chain pet store in the US. You may also wish to visit our previous posts on pet nutrition (we’ve broken it down for both dogs and cats).
*Last, but certainly not least, get your pets moving! Of course it is easier, especially when the weather is not playing nice, to just let your pup-pal out the back door to do his business. However, he needs to get out and walk. The brisk air will energize the both of you (and maybe even give your cabin fever the boot). And don’t forget about your feline friend – she needs to get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise each day as well. Oftentimes, we are contented by our kitty’s self-sufficiency – we forget that she, too, needs encouragement to get up off of her sunbathing perch! Remember: higher heart rates mean smaller waistlines!
Don’t forget to visit us next week – we’ll be featuring a true-life story of one kitty’s body transformation!