Pet obesity can stem from many problems, but the primary reason is a simple and obvious one; our pets aren’t using up all the energy in the food we give them. This in turn gets transferred into fat, and before long your pet is piling on the pounds. But since you can’t just give your dog a salad, or expect your cat to spend an hour on the treadmill every evening, what can you do?
Everyone likes to treat their pet every now and again, and it isn’t unknown for pet owners to hand out titbits. Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of behaviour that helps our pets pile on the pounds; if something is not part of a pet’s regular diet, you should ask yourself if the treat is really worth it – in the long run, you can be doing more harm than good.
Links to Other Health Issues
Pet obesity is linked to many other health issues, such as diabetes, breathing problems, high blood pressure, skin conditions, orthopaedic disease, heart disease and even cancer. The stress of increased weight upon the joints will lead to a reduced level of activity, meaning that once the weight is gained it is unlikely to be worked off through exercise. This will also cause long term pain, and if arthritis sets in you may find your pet can give up on strenuous activity altogether. Do not worry though, as there are things that you can do to prevent this problem building up.
To start with, you will need to get your pet on a diet. Consult your vet on the recommended amount of energy required per day for your pet; this will take into account the age, size, breed and gender of your pet, allowing you to know the exact amount you will need to be feeding them. Feeding a smaller amount a few times throughout the day will discourage all but the greediest of animals to wolf down their food. You vet can also recommend trusted food brands that will be helpful in cutting down on those unhealthy meal times.
When it comes to training or teaching discipline to a pet, you may find that treats or snacks are needed for that little bit of extra encouragement. Rather than losing these altogether, and possibly losing the concentration of your pet, you can find a number of different types of healthy treats that do no harm to your pet’s health, do not encourage weight gain and also taste good enough for your pet to pay you that little bit more attention. It’s also important to remember to budget the calories in these treats into their total caloric intake for the day, and reduce their portions accordingly.
Exercise is a must, and should become a regime for you and your pets even before they pile on the pounds. A walk or two a day for a dog is perfect when their diet is just right, and outdoor cats will get all the exercise they need while prowling around the neighbourhood. Indoor cats can be encouraged to exercise through toys, especially the fishing rod-types that encourage chase-and-pounce type games. Should your pets already be gaining weight, running or fetch games once a day whilst on a walk can help trim the excess fat from your dog, while cats cat be played with some more. Outdoor cats that appear less active can receive this treatment too.
Swimming is a fantastic exercise for dogs and fetch with a floating ball, such as a tennis ball, can be a great laugh for you and your pet – the water helps relieve stress from any aching joints meaning your dog can play for longer without experiencing too much pain.
Remember that obesity, whilst a serious health problem, is one that can be easily prevented and even reversed. If you work with your pet and make the experience as easy as possible for them, you will find over time that they will lose their extra weight in no time, and still love you despite the reduced number of treats. Obesity is a long term killer, and it is your responsibility to ensure their weight does not become a danger to their health. Finally, always consult your vet before undertaking any diet or exercise plan, and ask for any recommendations that your vet can make.