Healthy Weight for Dogs and Cats

Whether you’re a dog lover, a cat lover or both, odds are you have formed a special bond with your pet. It’s not a cliché to say that our pets are like our children. They have a way of burrowing deep into our hearts and life just wouldn’t be the same without them. So, it makes sense that we would want to do whatever we can to keep them stay healthy.

While we can’t control every health issue our pets will face, we can make sure our pets’ weight is kept within healthy limits.  

Here are a few tips that will help keep your pets’ weight under control.  (It should be pointed out that these tips are relevant for humans as well.)

Why watch weight: Just as obesity can put humans at increased risk for lots of health problems, the same is true for our pets.  As any overweight human can attest, those extra pounds can cause lots of issues with back pain and lower extremity pain.  Our overweight pets can be subject to the same type of issues.  Simply stated, if our pets are overweight, they are at risk for any number of health-related problems.

What causes weight gain: Undoubtedly, weight gain in our pets can most often be attributed to too much food and two little exercise.  While there are other factors such as age, breed and pre-existing health conditions, diet and exercise are key to maintaining a healthy weight for your pet.

Know how much to feed your pet:  Your veterinarian will be able to advise you regarding your pet’s weight and what their food intake should be.  That said, it’s important to be able to monitor your pet’s food intake during the day.  While a self-feeder might be convenient, it also encourages your pet to overeat.  Just as the refrigerator and pantry are an open invitation for humans to graze between meals, so is a self-feeder.  It’s better to go with a feeding plan prescribed by your veterinarian and feed your pet the amount of food and at the intervals they suggest.

Treats:  Keep track of your pet treats.  Many of us reward our pets for various behaviors throughout the day.  Don’t get carried away with the treats.  They are full of calories too!  Of course, you want to reward your pet but keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

People food:  Dogs more so than cats are master manipulators when it comes to people food.  They look up at you with those big brown eyes and convince you to give them a bite from your plate.  You are not being cruel or heartless when you say no.  Your pet will love you whether you feed them from the table or not, so just say no when it comes to sharing your people food.  Besides the fact that some people foods can cause health issues in our pets, it also adds unnecessary calories to their diet.

Exercise: Like humans, our pets need to get up and move around.  Unless your pet has had previous health issues, a brisk walk each day will do wonders for your pet’s health and weight.  And yours too!  If your pet has had health issues, be sure to get the “all clear” from your veterinarian before adding more exercise to your pet’s day.  If your cat is not in love with a leash, lots of play will also get them up and moving.  Light pointers have been known to keep cats occupied and on the move for hours.

As you can see, helping your pet maintain a healthy weight does not have to be difficult or inconvenient and the benefits to your pet are significant.  If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, the professional staff at Ashby Animal Clinic will be happy to provide you with all the tools you need to keep your pet healthy and happy.

Enjoy the cooler temperatures ahead!