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Finding An Ideal Weight For Your Pet

The beginning of a new year inevitably sees gyms and health clubs much more crowded than usual with people resolving to take better care of their physical and mental well-being. While they are being more in tune with the health of their bodies, so too should they be in tune with their pets’ well-being. A 2014 survey of veterinarians by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reported that 58% of American cats and 53% of dogs were overweight. The good news is that keeping a pet at an ideal weight can add up to two extra years to their life.

The key for a pet to lose weight, as for humans, is for the total number of calories for all meals and treats to equal the number of calories desired for weight loss. A trusted veterinarian or the APOP can help in finding an ideal weight. One recommendation to control a pet’s weight is to give them two to four small meals a day, instead of free-feeding. Free-feeding can be a major cause of pet obesity, since pets can eat whenever they want, even if they are just bored. Using a measuring cup helps to keep the food given to a pet at a consistent amount. If a pet parent’s schedule makes it difficult to feed smaller, more frequent meals, a timed automatic feeder, found at most pet stores, can be purchased.

Take a walk down the pet food aisle at any pet supply store, and almost every brand will have a weight-management food. Pet parents concerned about their pet’s weight should choose a food containing above-average protein, below-average fat and below-average calories. A higher-protein diet will help keep a pet from feeling hungry longer, which in turn will also decrease begging for treats.

Single-ingredient treats that have sweet potato, salmon or blueberry are acceptable, as are treats that have an added benefit such as keeping teeth clean or better mobility. Just remember to count the calories! If a pet parent wants to do even better, they can skip the store-bought treats altogether and give their pets apples, baby carrots, green beans, celery or cucumbers; cats can get a flake of salmon or tuna.

It is not uncommon to give an overweight pet a supplement. Dogs, cats, and humans can all benefit from a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Omega-3 offers many healthy advantages, such as preventing and treating numerous conditions, easing achy joints, and encouraging weight loss.

For anyone that has a dog, they already have a workout buddy. Twenty to thirty minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function and improve cardiovascular health in a dog. Playing with a laser pointer with a cat for 5-15 minutes never gets old; a remote-controlled toy would get a cat moving, too. Get creative; there are many common household objects or homemade toys that you can use to play with your cat or dog. Together, both pet parents and their pets can be well on their way to a healthier lifestyle.