Latest veterinary surveys show that over half of the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight, putting them at risk for life-shortening conditions such as diabetes, painful arthritis, high blood pressure, cancer, kidney and heart disease. With a little intentionality, the solution to our pet’s weight problems may be easier than you think.
Walk away the Pounds
Research proves the most effective way to living along, disease and pain-free life is daily exercise. If you have a dog, then you have a built in exercise partner. You don’t have to go out and run a marathon – as little as 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to improve cardiovascular health, boost mood and immune function and reduce behavioral problems of cooped up canines. Do yourself and your dog a huge and commit to daily walks, no matter the weather. With life’s busy schedules some family’s may find it challenging to find time in the day to walk there companions, the use of an electric dog fence is a viable alternative to daily walks, these types of fences can be a great means of allowing your dog to get a lot more exercise then he might otherwise get, while the debate continues over the humane factor, over 3 million Americans currently use these types of fence systems for containment.
You are What (and How Much) You Eat
A pet parent’s strongest weapon in the fight against obesity is the measuring cup: simply by measuring the food you can help your pet shed unwanted weight. Many pet parents feed an empty bowl or guess on the amount they are feeding. The association for pet obesity prevention states that as little as 10 extra pieces of kibble can lead to excess weight gain in small dogs. While the feeding guide on the back of the bag can be a good rule of thumb, remember that most feeding guides are formulated for young adult dogs that have not been neutered. If you have an older couch potato dog and feed based on the label, you are most likely overfeeding your dog by about 20%. It is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian, who can calculate exactly how many calories and how much you should be feeding your dog per day. Make sure everybody in the house is on the same page about how much to feed Fido.
The type of food you feed your dog also matters. Choose a diet that has an animal protein source (such as chicken, lamb or beef) listed first on the ingredient panel. Avoid foods with corn or wheat as diets loaded with carbohydrates, as they will sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Treat your Pets to Good Health
Giving your pet a treat strengthens the human animal bond, but too many treats out there are doggie candy bars in disguise. If you are going to give your pet treats, choose treats that have a health benefit, such as Life’s Abundance baked treats. Break treats into teeny pieces and dole them out whenever you want to reward your pet. As an alternative to store-bought treats, try offering fresh fruits and vegetables – such as green beans, sliced apples, bananas, cucumbers, carrots or broccoli. Remember – even if you feed your dog a diet of healthy food, ‘junk food’ treats could have a significant negative impact on his or her health, and remember to count those calories into the overall daily calorie count.
If you implement these simple suggestions and your dog is still lugging around stubborn pounds, consult with your veterinarian, as several hormonal disorders can lead to excessive weight gain. Here is to good health – for both you and your dog!
By Dr. Claire — Staff Writer