If you think your cute little butterball looks better with a little extra cushion, you’re not alone. Over 50% of dogs and cats in the US are overweight or obese. 

The problem is, a few extra pounds to a dog or cat is quite a bit of excess weight. Over time, the extra pounds packed on your pet can cause serious health problems and complications that they otherwise wouldn’t have, had they maintained a healthy weight 

Since we want our pets to be the healthiest they can be, while still indulging in the occasional morsel, what’s a well intentioned pet owner to do? Keep reading for ideas from Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center about how to maintain a healthier weight for your pet.

Pet Weight Basics

First things first. How do you tell that your pet is overweight? Here are some tips. 

  • You can’t feel your pet’s ribs beneath the skin
  • Your pet’s stomach sags
  • Your pet has a broad, flat back with no visible waist 
  • You can grab a handful of fat

Your veterinarian can confirm your suspicions with body condition scoring at your pet’s preventive care exam. Don’t feel guilty or defensive for bringing up weight – you’re looking after your pet’s best interests. No judgement!

How To Get To A Healthier Weight For Your Pet

Don’t panic. Pet weight loss doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly. There are ways to help your pet slim down without leaving them feeling deprived. Work with your veterinarian on ideas and tips to make weight loss for your pet easier. 

Don’t skip treats. Talk to us about great ways to treat your pet, without all the extra calories. Extra play time, walks, or brushing are wonderful rewards for pets. Single ingredient snacks can also be great. And believe it or not, most dogs love carrots, green beans, and other fruits and vegetables that are good for them.

Pets like to work for their food. It’s true! Cats are natural hunters, and dogs were bred to do jobs. So put your pet to work for their food and burn calories while they’re at it. Use food puzzles, hide their meals around the house (in small portions) and even encourage your cat to jump and climb by feeding her on perches or on top of her cat tree.

Play everyday. Playtime is a way to have fun with your pet and help your pet get to a healthier weight. Hike, swim, and play fetch with your pet. 

Weigh in. When working toward a goal, it helps to track progress and celebrate wins. So schedule time to weigh your pet on a regular basis. This can encourage you, let you know you’re on the right track, and also help you catch any slip ups. Soon, you’ll see a healthier weight for your pet.

The Big Picture

Weight loss can be slow, and it helps to keep your eye on the big picture. While resisting begging eyes may be difficult, the alternative is far worse. By sticking to a weight loss plan for your pet, you can be sure that you’re giving her a longer and healthier life. And, that’s what we ultimately all want for pets. 

Talk to us if you need help, or have questions or concerns. We are here to help!