Like humans, pets can become obese and develop excess body fat, which can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes or degenerative joint disease.
Studies have found that the lifespan of overweight dogs was up to two and a half years shorter, on average, when compared to ideal-weight dogs. Weight gain in pets is often a result of overfeeding and lack of exercise.
Here are a few tips in order to prevent obesity and provide your fur baby with the highest quality of life and increase their life span.
- Limit Between-Meal Snacks:
- Dogs get a lot of calories in addition to their regular kibble. These calories can add up. According to a survey, more than half of pet parents always or often give their pet treats if they beg for it, and nearly a quarter of pet parents overfeed their fur baby to keep them happy.
- Find out where the extra calories are coming from and manage how many extra goodies he/she is getting.
- Try rewarding good behaviors with a toy, interaction, or some other enrichment that does not involve calories.
- Measuring Meals:
- Keeping a diary is one of the most important steps in any human weight-loss program. Since pets cannot keep track of their own, you will have to do it for them. Keep track of how much food you are feeding by using a measuring cup.
- Pet parents should choose an appropriate pet food according to their age, weight, and activity level. Identifying the right food and amount is the key for a successful weight-loss!
- Set a Schedule:
- If you free-feed, leaving food down all day, offer meals on a set schedule. Put the food down for a certain time, perhaps 15 minutes, and take up any food that your pet does not eat. Feed your fur baby at least two meals per day.
- Choose Low-Calorie Treats:
- There are always healthier alternatives. Many store-bought treats can be fattening. Many dogs will be just as happy with fruits or vegetables, like bananas, carrots, and apple slices, for example.
- Encourage slow and steady increases in exercise throughout the weight-loss plan. There are so many activities you and your fur baby can do together. Try fetch, hill work, swimming, or hiking!
- Exercise is always encouraged! However, exercise alone is usually insufficient for substantial weight loss. It is very important to follow all the steps above!
- Monitor the Process
- Pet parents can regularly monitor their pet’s weight by routinely weighing them around the same time of the day.
- When your fur baby reaches his/her target weight, do not increase calories too soon. Dramatic increase in calories could lead to rebound weight gain.
Though it may be tempting to spoil your fur baby with extra servings of food, consider thinking twice about the consequences he/she may face as a result. Choose the right food for your fur baby’s need and provide your fur baby with a healthy and happy life!