A New Year's Resolution for Your Pet - Time for Weight Loss

Is it time for a weight loss program for your pet?


Turn Over a New Leaf

Now is the time to start thinking about living better in the New Year. Have you ever thought of what your pet might want to improve? A favorite resolution for humans is to lose weight, but weight can be an issue for pets, too. Do you and/or your pet need to get more fit? If so, why not do it together?

Overweight Pet

If you have an overweight pup, now is as good a time as any to turn over a new leaf. Here are some general tips that might work for both man and beast. If you have any questions about your pet’s health and weight, check first with your veterinarian to make sure you are following the right advice.

Chubby Puppy?

First of all, know your mature dog’s ideal weight. According to WebMD, “15% above that weight is obese; zero to 15% is overweight. According to a 2011 study, 53% of dogs are overweight or obese.” Talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet’s weight is healthy.

Ideal Weight for Pets

You should also become familiar with your pet’s ideal caloric intake. The caloric needs of your pet will vary depending on breed and size. Your veterinarian can provide you with a specific target, but here is a general guide:

10-lb. cat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .275 calories

10-lb. dog  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .300 calories

20-lb. dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 calories

50-lb. dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,200 calories

Five Ideas for a Healthy and Happy Pet

#1 Portion Control

First of all, check to see if you are feeding your dog the right amount for his size and ideal weight. Weight loss is best achieved slowly and surely, about 1–2% per week. Most dog food labels recommend the amount of food best suited for your pup. Check out the manufacturer’s recommendations and then talk to your veterinarian if you have questions.

If your dog is accustomed to grazing at the bowl all day, start to feed him twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. If your dog does not eat all his food at a given meal, after ten minutes, pick up the bowl and put it away until the next meal. He will figure out that he needs to eat when it is mealtime.

Cut your dog’s food intake by 15–20% for six to eight weeks, checking his weight weekly and reassessing at the end of that period.

#2 Treat Management

Do you know how many treats your dog gets per day or per week? Is he getting treats from the kids, the dog walker, the neighbor and you? He may be getting more than is good for him. If you think a no-treat policy may be too severe, then portion out the number he can get in a day. Put the appropriate number of treats in a bowl; when they are gone, that is the end of the treats for that day.

Remember that animals should not be given human food as snacks. Our food contains too much sugar, salt, fat and chemicals for our four-legged friends.

Consider switching to lower-calorie treats if possible. For example, Milk-Bone Original has only 10 calories per treat, compared to Purina One Adult Biscuits Beef & Rice, which has 33 calories. For dental-care treats, Pedigree BreathBuster Small treats have only 28 calories per treat, while DentaBone Small treats come in at a whopping 105 calories. Be sure to check out and compare the nutrition labels on your dog’s treats just as you would your own snacks.

#3 Consider Alternative Foods 

If weight loss is not occurring with smaller portions, talk to your veterinarian about low-calorie foods. There are many options on the market, and your pet’s doctor can help you choose one that is right for your pet.

#4 Get Moving

Increasing exercise is one of the easiest and most fun ways to drop a few pounds. Walk your dog a couple times a day for 15 minutes and increase the time and/or frequency slowly. If your dog has joint pain, swimming may be a better choice. 

Walking a cat is not always an option, but playing with your cat will help him burn calories. Chasing, batting and wrestling with toys is exercise for a cat and fun for you too.

#5 Stay Firm

Be consistent with your pet’s diet. Do not give in to begging. Instead, redirect your pet with a favorite toy or a walk around the block. 

When your dog looks at you with his sad little eyes, remind yourself that you are helping him stay healthy and happy for years to come. For pets, just like humans, being overweight can have serious, long-term health consequences that can become debilitating to both quality of life and longevity.

Get Help

Getting fit will help you and your pet enjoy each other for many years to come!

For more information and to make sure that your pet is as healthy and happy as possible, come see me.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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