Watch That Weight! 5 Tips for Successfully Managing Your Pet’s Weight

With more and more pets becoming too heavy, our nation’s cats and dogs are experiencing an increased risk for a multitude of health issues spurred by obesity. While losing weight may seem challenging, you can use many methods to help your furry pal reach their ideal weight and body condition. Here are five tips to get you started on your pet’s weight loss journey.

#1: Learn how to evaluate your pet’s body condition score

When you compare yourself to your best friend, you may be disheartened to hear that you are 25 pounds heavier. However, you are also six inches taller, so it makes sense that you weigh more. The same philosophy applies to pets. For example, your Labrador may weigh 100 pounds, while your neighbor’s Lab weighs only 75 pounds. Which dog would you assume is at a healthy weight? Despite being the same breed, body structure must be taken into account to determine if a pet is at their ideal weight. Each pet must be considered individuallyand that requires assessing their body condition score (BCS).

To score your pet’s body condition, run your hands along their ribs. You should be able to feel each bone with only light pressureif you need to push hard, too much fat layer is covering their ribcage. Next, feel for your pet’s waistline. Do you see an hourglass shape, or the rounded bulge of a too-well-fed stomach? Lastly, look at your pet from the side. Does their abdomen curve upward into their pelvis, or does their belly pooch downward? Compare your results with this body condition score chart to see where your furry pal falls on the scale. 

#2: Calculate your pet’s caloric needs for the day

When you feed your pet, do you always fill the dish to the brim? Do you measure their exact meal portion, use whatever is handy, or feed them whenever they beg for more? If you aren’t calculating the specific number of daily calories your pet needs, you likely are overfeeding them. Instead, use a calorie calculator for dogs or cats, plugging in your pet’s details to see the number of calories they should be eating. A calculator can also help you determine the calorie portion—no more than 10% of their daily calorie allotment— that should come from treats. Next, divide the day’s total calorie count into two or three meals, which should ensure that your furry pal feels full throughout the day. If they still seem hungry after eating all their food, they may be bored and looking for activity.

#3: Be creative with feeding your pet

Does your pet seem to inhale their food from their standard bowl? If so, infuse some creativity into mealtimes with a variety of puzzle feeders to encourage using their brain to reach their meal—and to help them burn more calories. Create your own puzzle feeders out of cardboard boxes and tubes, crumpled paper, fabric, plastic water bottles, and other household items that can hold kibble or canned food, changing the feeder regularly to prevent boredom. 

#4: Switch to healthy treat options

If turning down your pet’s begging stare is too difficult, switch to healthy treats as snacks. Many commercially produced pet treats are high in fat, sugar, and calories, but you can make your own at home with healthy ingredients and cut calories. You can also add fresh fruits and vegetables or lean meat to your pet’s diet. Some healthy “people” food options for your pet include:

  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Salmon

Remember, treats should account for only 10% of your pet’s daily diet. Regardless how healthy, pets must be fed a well-balanced dog or cat food that contains the appropriate proportion of vitamins and minerals to ensure they stay healthy.

#5: Step up your exercise routine

In addition to feeding a healthy diet at the correct amount, your pet needs daily exercise to maintain an ideal body condition. Walking the same old neighborhood route can be boring, so add fun, new ideas into your daily steps. Sign up your dog for various sporting events, or explore a different local park. For your cat, purchase a robotic toy that encourages them to stalk and pounce when you are not home. Sneak in a couple of five-minute training sessions throughout the day, brushing up on old skills and learning new ones, to exercise your pet’s mind and body.

If you need help assessing your pet’s BCS and accurate weight, or assistance designing an effective weight loss plan, contact our All Creatures Animal Hospital team for help.

By |2024-02-15T00:13:27+00:00January 4th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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