How to Help Your Pet be a Healthy Weight
Dogs and cats can’t talk and tell their owners when they are hungry and when they are full. That means that it is up to us to keep pets’ weight under control. Obesity in pets can lead to life-threatening diseases, and you want to give your animals the longest and best life possible. Let’s take a look at ways to help your pets keep their furry figures in check.
What is a Healthy Weight?
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention tells us that 58% of cats and 53% of dogs are overweight. To check your pet to see if he’s overweight is easy; feel for the ribs and if you can’t feel them easily, your pet is overweight. Dogs and cats shouldn’t have a sagging stomach and should have a noticeable waist area. A great resource and place to start is this weight chart for many common breeds of cats and dogs.
It’s All About Counting Calories
Just like human diets, dog and cat diets are based on calories. But we forget that most pets are significantly smaller than us and need fewer calories for their small bodies. Dr. Rex Riggs offers a great starting point to figuring out how many calories your pet should eat each day with this chart:
- 10 lbs. 180-200 calories
- 10 lbs. 200-275 calories
- 20 lbs. 325-400 calories
- 50 lbs. 700-900 calories
Don’t Feed Pets “People” Food
We love our food and want to share it, but pets shouldn’t eat human food for several reasons. There are too many calories in our food for their small bodies. A typical cookie that we eat has between 100 and 150 calories. That’s almost an entire day’s worth of food for a small dog or cat. A 1 pound weight gain for a 10 pound cat is 10% of its entire body weight.
That includes pet treats too. Look at the calories on the treat packages and look for higher protein content treats. Simply give them pieces of their hard food as a treat and reduce the amount you feed them at regular meals.
When we’re trying to lose weight, we fill up on water to satisfy our cravings. You can do the same thing with your pets. Fill their water bowl several times during the day to keep them hydrated.
Say “No” to the Self-Feeder
We’re a society who values convenience, but a self-feeder isn’t a good idea for your pets. Many pets can’t self regulate and will eat just because there is food available. Schedule your pets’ meals at the same times each day and don’t add more to the bowl once the food is gone.
Pet food labels can be confusing. Especially if your pet is already severely overweight. Talk to your veterinarian and find out exactly how many calories your pet needs each day, and then measure out the food accordingly. You may have to reduce their food below the calorie needs per day for awhile to see weight loss.
Healthy pets are a healthy weight and they live longer. Help your pet to be healthy so you can have them in your life for as long as possible.