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Overweight Pets

Overweight Pets

By Claudia Zamora, DVM

When it comes to your pet’s diet there is no shortage of food and treat choices available, and this plays a big role in your pet’s nutritional options. Many pet owners are too eager to please and they fail to feed the proper amount of food to meet their pet’s nutritional requirements, often exceeding the appropriate daily amount. Most pets spend much of their time indoors with a decreased activity level, or may have underlying medical conditions predisposing them to weight gain.

Overweight and obesity are a common problem in dogs and cats. Weight loss can be a difficult issue to correct and requires owners to be disciplined and committed to following feeding guidelines. In addition, pets must learn to adjust to a new feeding pattern.

Here are some recommendations to help get your pet back to a healthy weight:

·       Monitor your pet’s body weight: A healthy pet’s body condition is characterized by being able to visualize their waist and the ability to feel the surface of their bones without having to press too hard. In addition, the abdomen should be tucked up towards their pelvis. Older pets, and pets that have been neutered or spayed have a higher tendency to gain weight.

·       If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to decide on a weight reduction diet. Prescription diets and diagnostics may be recommended if your pet doesn’t respond to a dietary change, or if a physical exam suggests the presence of an underlying medical condition that may interfere with an appropriate diet plan. Weight loss should be gradual, aiming for a reduction over a 2-3-month period.

·       Avoid drastic reductions or abrupt diet changes. Make sure all family members agree with the same plan. Feeding the recommended daily amount, split into multiple feedings throughout the day, often helps to reduce your pet’s anxiety and begging.

·       Start to exercise or increase your pet’s activity level as much as possible if the pet’s health allows, for example try playing fun games like chasing a ball or walking at a rapid pace.