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What To Do If You Have Overweight Pets

Image of an overweight pug dog sitting on a scale

Managing Your Pet’s weight can prevent problems down the road

Our pets come in different shapes and sizes. Some are active, get plenty of exercise and stay in shape. Others may not be as active, slowly becoming overweight pets who never seem to lose the extra pounds.

Cats and dogs oftentimes want to eat more than they should. They also like to sleep most of the day, which means that they don’t get enough exercise. Granted, a little extra weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an overweight pet can face serious health issues over time.

It’s not unusual for us to overfeed our pets every once in a while. They want a snack in the middle of the day, and we find ourselves giving them unhealthy treats that have very little nutritional value. In fact, we may not even be aware that our pets are overweight, until we bring them in to see a veterinarian for a check-up.

Figuring Out if Your Pet is Heavy

One way to determine if your pet is overweight is to feel along their spine and ribs. Pressing gently, you should be able to feel their ribs underneath their fur and skin. If there is a bit of extra padding, but you can still feel the ribs, then your pet has gained some slight weight, but if it’s hard to feel the ribs, then your little guy needs to go on a diet.

The main point of keeping your pet’s weight in check is to avoid potential future problems. That’s why they need daily activity to keep them in shape. Consider this: if you have a cat or a small dog, even one excess pound over their required weight limit can cause issues with their joints. Excess strain can lead to mobility issues, and that one pound can be considered the equivalent of roughly twenty percent of your pet’s overall weight.

It also depends on the type of food you’re feeding your cat or dog. Many brands of foods have necessary ingredients, but they also contain additives that makes the food high on calories, which can cause your pet to over eat. It’s good to regulate the amount of food your pets eat during the day.

Any excess weight can greatly reduce the life of your pet by more than two years. Managing their weight can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, as well as some types of cancer. Again, excess weight can also impact their joints, making it difficult for them to walk as there is likely strain on their bones and muscles. As excess weight can greatly affect your pet’s longevity, keeping them in shape and at an appropriate weight can give them a longer, healthier life without unnecessary pain.

What to Do if Your Pet is Overweight

If you notice that you have an overweight pet, here are a few ideas to help them get in shape and to lose a few pounds:

  • If you have cats, feed them a diet with up to 40 percent protein, which can help manage a lean body mass while losing weight at the same time.
  • If you have dogs, feed them twice a day at the same time. Be sure to measure the food evenly and not just fill up a bowl whenever it needs refilling. Teaching a pet will power is very difficult, but it’s beneficial so that they don’t overeat. You can also add items such as a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin as a topper. This will add much needed fiber to their diet, and will help their stomach feel full.
  • Our pets want to eat something that tastes good, but many of the foods that are overloaded with calories can cause them to eat more than they should. Always be sure to measure their food, so that they don’t overeat.
  • One way to reduce overeating is to get a slow feeder. This works best if you give them hard food. The food is dispensed slowly over time as the food is eaten. It can help increase their activity level and help to enhance mental stimulation.
  • If you decide to change your pet’s food, slowly introduce it with their current food over the course of a week for a smooth transition. A drastic change in food can cause your pet to have an upset stomach.
  • While your cat may not like a new kind of food and be very fussy about it, it’s important to make sure that they do eat something. Even a two day span without eating can cause serious liver condition called hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome), which can be treated, but your cat may need a feeding tube to remedy the situation.
  • It’s important to bring your cat or dog to your Austin veterinarian for annual check-ups, which includes checking their weight. Your vet can go over any possible dietary changes your pet might need.
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of exercise. Instead of feeding them in the middle of the day, make some time to play. If you have dogs, go for long walks, run in the park, anything to keep them occupied and moving to help shed any excess weight. If you have cats, there are tons of toys to keep them active. Catnip can give them the cat crazies for a short period of time, which will allow them to be active.

Other Ways to Help Your Pets Manage Their Weight

If your pet seems to be having weight issues, by all means, try the aforementioned suggestions, but, if nothing seems to be working, then a trip to your Austin vet should be considered.

Focus on Your Pet

Ask your veterinarian for an evaluation of your pet’s health and weight. Let them know if there are any health problems that have arisen due to their weight gain. Your vet will help you determine if your cat or dog is at a higher risk for disease and other problems, based on their history.

Feed a Nutritious and Healthy Diet

Of course our pets want to eat when they choose to; there’s no arguing with them about that. However, too much overeating and limited exercise are not a good match. Don’t feed them table scraps and try to avoid fattening, high calorie treats if possible. Substitute these types of treats with healthier ones.

Reduce the Amount of Food you Serve

If you’re used to giving your cat or dog large servings, reduce the amount you usually serve them. Sure, they’re not going to be happy at first, but by reducing the amount that they consume per day, there exists a greater chance for them to overeat.

Find Good Quality Food

There’s quite a bit of subpar pet food out there, filled will all types of preservatives and ingredients that can be harmful. Look for foods that have greater nutritional value and with limited to no preservatives. If you’re not sure about what types of foods to try, speak to your Austin vet in regarding possible suggestions. The more exercise and better quality food that they eat, your pets will be happier and in better shape.

If you’ve noticed your pet gaining an unusual amount of weight, or if they seem to have specific health issues related to excess weight gain, please contact ATX Animal Clinic. We can provide a thorough nutritional consultation and prescribe a healthy diet to help get your cat or dog in shape, and at their appropriate weight.