Eating healthy and exercising is just as important for your pets as it is for you! Did you know it is estimated that over half dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese? Our Tampa Bay veterinarian at River Mill Animal Hospital would like to help kick start your New Year off to a great start with these helpful tips, to manage pet obesity.
Talk to our Veterinarian: Just like people, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for weight loss when it comes to dogs and cats. It is important to have a talk about the factors that may play into your pet’s weight. These include their age, changing nutritional needs, and whether they have been spayed or neutered, to name a few. Creating a plan will help improve your pet’s weight, such as if you are overfeeding to the correct portions of the appropriate food.
Control the calories: Not all food is the same. It may be as simple as feeding the correct portions of the appropriate food. Limiting the number of treats and avoid giving table scraps. When giving treats, remember that even small treats often hide a large number of calories, try looking for healthy alternatives like carrots or broccoli.
Stay consistent: Put a measuring cup in your food bag for consistency in feeding amounts. Assign a family member to each meal to keep pets from being accidentally overfed. Keep track the number of treats given throughout the day. Consider using an automatic feeder, which ensures your pet is fed on the same schedule each day. Do not free feed! Set regular mealtimes and measure exactly the appropriate amount every time. This way, your pets are eating in moderation and you’re controlling the amount of food they take in.
Keep an eye on the scale: Weight checks are an important tool to keep your four-legged friend’s size on track, and you’ll need to monitor their weight-loss progress. Weighing your pet every one to two weeks is ideal to see how it’s going. If the weight isn’t coming off, cutting back his calories further may be recommended.
Get out and play: Exercise is great for you and your pet! Walking together will enhance the bond between you are your pet. For older or disabled animals, a short walk around the block may be appropriate. For younger and more active animals, a swim, running around the park or chasing a laser may be best to keep your pet active.
It’s our responsibility as pet owners to help our pets maintain a healthy weight by feeding nutritious foods and treats and exercising daily. By using these suggestions, you’ll be on your way to your pet’s best and healthiest year yet! If you have any questions, please call 813-501-4985 to schedule your exam with Dr. Hodge.