With the weather starting to warm up in Minnesota, people are finally starting to break free of their hibernation and getting out for some fresh air and exercise.
Lots of people are already starting to work on shedding those extra winter pounds, myself included, and even our pets need to shed some extra pounds. Although winter is not the only cause of weight gain when it comes to our pets.
According to a 2009 study that was published by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 34 million dogs and 54 million cats are classified as being overweight. With the numbers continuing to rise this isn’t something to be taken lightly, as excess weight lowers metabolism, increases appetite and can worsen other medical conditions that are present, such as arthritis and respiratory problems.
If you have an overweight pet that needs surgery, it could be more challenging for a surgeon to operate and actually increases the chances of complications with anesthesia. Nearly half the nation’s pet population is afflicted with weight issues. So if you or someone you know has a pet that is affected, here are six tips to help pets shed unwanted pounds and keep the weight off for good.
The two main causes of obesity in pets today are eating too many calories and getting little exercise, while the other causes could be either genetic traits or gender. What’s appalling is that most pet parents seem to accept their overweight pets, while others think of them as being ‘normal’, and some even deny the problem altogether.
Now you would think that your pets appearance is the best way to tell if your pet is obese, but it is not always the best indicator. Some pets may look fat when they’re healthy and some may look thin when they’re overweight. One thing you can do is an online search about your pets breed to see if they’re prone to obesity. If you have a middle-aged female who has been spayed, chances are they’ll be more likely to gain weight. However to really know for sure if your pet is at a healthy weight or not, you should take your pet to your veterinarian for proper evaluation.
Change Your Lifestyle
The way we live has a huge impact on our pets and their health. We all know there are far too many Americans today who lead lazy lifestyles, and because of this our pets are suffering for it. What we need to do is change the way we live our lifestyles so that it will reflect on how our pets live theirs. We can do this simply by being more active and eating less calories.
Everything your pet eats has calories, including treats, you can reduce calories right away by giving low-calorie treats, such as Life’s Abundance’s Wholesome Hearts.
Increasing exercise is good for everyone, taking long walks and playing fetch are fun and excellent ways to help your dog lose weight. If you have a cat you can use a feather wand or a laser pointer, which will really get them moving and will also be a lot of fun.
Feeding Small Measuring Frequent Meals
Every time you eat, you actually burn calories and the same goes for our companion animals.
The best way to help your pet lose weight, is to measure out the daily food amount and divide it into smaller meals to be fed throughout the day. It’s very important to measure your pets food, even if you free feed.
If you like to give treats, feed a low-calorie treat or a vegetable, like carrots, between each meal.
Pets do like to beg for a treat quite often, but what they’re actually doing is begging for is attention. So instead of giving a treat, give some love and attention, or maybe even play with them for awhile.
If you have a pet that acts hungry even after a meal, consider supplementing canned food. Since called food usually contains a lot of moisture, it will actually make your pet feel full while only getting a few calories. Always remember to try to keep their calorie intake consistent.
If you don’t see any results in your pets weight within two weeks, be sure to discuss other options with your veterinarian.
Keeping food journals is not only a very helpful and effective weight-management tool for people, it’s also very effective for our pets too. You can start by first keeping records for a week, tracking everything you feed to your pet. We don’t normally realize how much we really are feeding our pets until we see it written down. You will be surprised how effective and helpful this one tool is.
A weight-loss medication called Slentrol was recently approved by the FDA for canine use. It is still unknown exactly what this drug does, but researchers believe that it helps suppress appetite and inhibits the absorption of fat. If you have tried all other options and you’re still having little or no luck, or if your dogs weight is putting it’s health into jeopardy, then you may want to consider asking your veterinarian about this new weight-loss medication for your dog.
Leptin is a new hormonal supplement that suppresses the appetite and is being used to help with weight-loss. Researchers have discovered that diabetic dogs have low levels of leptin, which can lead to overeating, and also found that by adding leptin to the diet, dogs appetites were noticeably suppressed.
Caution: I urge you to only use these supplements under the supervision of your vet, as the proper dosages vary from animal to animal. Leptin can have the opposite effect in certain dosages, which could actually increase appetite.
So if you have a companion animal that is struggling with weight, all you need to do is put in some time, money, love and patience. If you do that then you will help your companion animal lose excess weight and maximize their chances for a longer, healthier and happier lifetime.