This is the time of year for resolutions- and many revolve around weight loss, getting in shape and eating better- for us at least! Shouldn’t your pet have a resolution to lose weight too? In all seriousness, obesity in pets is a big deal! A 14 year study of Labrador retrievers found those kept at a lean body mass lived almost 2 years longer than their counterpart litter mates who were allowed to become overweight/obese. I know I would cherish an extra 2 years with my dogs! Overweight animals are more at risk for heart disease and diabetes as well as joint problems. Carrying all that extra weight around for all those years puts them at increased risk to back and knee injuries as well.
Calorie Counting for Cats and Canines
So what can we do? It is now required that all pet food companies include calorie content per cup of food/can on their labels. I suggest you use the links below to see the number of calories your pet should be eating and then check they calorie content of the food you are feeding. Don’t forget to check treats and count all the extras as well… the pieces of scrambled eggs, toast, boiled chicken breast etc, it all adds up! This can be eye opening! I find that most pets are being overfed and owners don’t realize it, sometimes by 100 extra calories a day and when you should only eat 250 calories a day, for example if you are a small breed dog, it adds up quickly!
In terms of exercise, increased walks, runs and ball playing are obvious choices for our canine friends- but what about cats? If your cat is indoor only I suggest having food and water on a separate floor from litter boxes so they must walk around the house to get from one area to another. Increased play activity in the form of laser pointers, fishing pole toys or even fetch can be helping to help our cats lose weight. I have also had owners have cats “hunt” for food in the house- placing it in different locations so they must walk and seek it out rather than their usual spot in the kitchen or laundry room. Using feeder toys- ones that cats or dogs much push or bat around so food falls out can help ward off boredom and increase exercise as well.
We Can Help
Feel free to ask about your pet’s weight at their next visit. We can also do a set of measurements that takes into account weight, bone structure and breed of both cats and dogs, which can give us more specific information about your dog or cat. We can also talk about prescription weight loss programs if past efforts towards weight loss have failed. As with any program, giving it some time is of utmost importance! It took a while to accumulate that extra weight so it will certainly take a while to come off!
We want your pet to live a long healthy life, ask us how we can help at your next visit or send Dr. Elia an email for advice as well! firstname.lastname@example.org