5 Golden Rules of Weight Management for Pets

Losing weight is difficult, so having a dedicated support team is essential for helping your four-legged friend reach a healthy goal. While you have the most difficult challenge—trying to ignore your pet’s begging gaze as you devour pizzakeep in mind that our Animal Hospital of Parkland team is also in your pet’s corner, cheering them on and offering you resources to help them shed the extra pounds. Read our tips to learn how to help your furry pal reach their ideal weight. 

#1: Count calories and measure pet food correctly

Consider how you feed your pet. You may fill their bowl when empty, or use a coffee mug to dole out a random portion. Feeding your pet in such a way often contributes to weight gain, because you have no idea of the calorie amount they are consuming. To calculate the calorie amount your pet needs, enter their weight in this calorie calculator for dogs or this calculator for cats. To determine definitively whether your pet is overweight, you should also evaluate their body condition score, which provides a more accurate daily calorie goal.

Once you determine your pet’s daily calorie total to gain, lose, or maintain their weight, divide that number by two or three meals. Check the food label to find out a portion’s calorie amount, and determine the amount you should be feeding your pet. If your pet requires one cup of food twice daily to satisfy their caloric needs, use an actual measuring cup—not a coffee mug or water glass—to portion out the exact amount. By being cognizant of the food amount your pet actually needs to eat, and the amount you are truly doling out, you can make great strides toward helping your furry pal reach their healthy weight.

#2: Switch to healthier pet treats

Pets come running when they hear the treat bag rustle. However, many processed treats are full of fat, sugar, and calories, and you should offer your pet healthier treat options. While low-calorie processed options are available, you can save money and offer your four-legged friend fresh whole foods that provide healthy antioxidants and vitamins. In addition, remember that treats—including fresh whole foods—should only make up 10% of your pet’s daily calorie allotment. Some healthy pet treat options you may already have at home include:

  • Fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, berries, and melon
  • Vegetables such as green beans, carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes
  • Fully cooked, unseasoned, skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breast
  • Canned tuna in water

#3: Encourage your pet to work for their food

Your pet can have fun burning calories while they eat when you offer them a food puzzle, which will slow down their gobbling, and provide mental stimulation. You can create food puzzles using items around your home, such as cardboard tubes and boxes, plastic bottles, and crumpled paper. You can also hide kibble morsels and encourage your pet to sniff them out. Another way to make your pet work for their meal is to use pieces of their food as treats when training. Some pets will only perform for high-value treats, but if your furry pal is willing to run through their regular tricks in exchange for handfuls of kibble, they can burn calories while eating and having fun.

#4: Show your pet some love through attention and activity—not food

All your pet really wants is to spend time with their favorite human—you! So, show your furry pal the love by lavishing them with attention, not high-calorie treats. Although an occasional special treat is fine, refrain from giving your four-legged friend a snack every time they look adorable. Your dog likely prefers a belly rub, and your cat prefers a chin scratch. Groom and massage your beloved companion, or simply cuddle on the couch. In addition, play more games with your pet, such as a rousing game of fetch or a session of feather-wand attack.

#5: Exercise daily with your pet

Cutting calories is an excellent start to managing your pet’s weight, but you must include daily exercise. Set aside time every day to get active with your pet. You can start with 10 to 15 minutes per session. Keep in mind that your dog will be able to exercise for longer periods of time than your cat, but you can separate activity periods to ensure they each get plenty of daily exercise.

If—despite a diligent exercise and diet regimen—your pet continues packing on the pounds, your four-legged friend may have an underlying medical condition that makes weight loss extremely difficult. Don’t lose hope! Schedule your pet’s weight management consultation with our Animal Hospital of Parkland team. 

By |2024-02-14T23:51:10+00:00February 9th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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