Call The Vet: Helping Your Pet Lose Weight

Pets are considered beloved members of the family for most owners and their health and happiness is important. Increasingly dogs and cats are becoming overweight or even obese, which can lead to serious health issues. According to some studies, more than fifty percent of the American pet population is overweight. Pets should have regular checkups with a veterinarian who will be able to help observe your pet's weight and provide suggestions for weight loss if necessary.

If you want to determine if your dog or cat is overweight, feel around their spine and ribs. Their should only be a thin layer of fat that separates the skin and bones. If you have trouble feeling the spine or ribs, you pet is likely overweight. As a general rule, once a pet has reached maturity, anything above fifteen percent above the recommended weight is considered obese.

If possible, you should regularly weigh your pets to ensure they are at a healthy weight. This can be done monthly, or even weekly. Most vets would be happy to let you use the scale in their office but if this is not possible you can weigh your pets at home. Just get on the scale, and the get on the scale again while holding your pet. The difference between both weights is how much your pet weighs. If you have a very small cat or dog you may need to use a baby scale to weigh them.

Some breeds of dogs are more prone to obesity than others. Certain breeds typically remain slim while other have a propensity for being overweight. Some breeds that are prone to obesity include Dachshunds, Beagles, Rottweilers, and Saint Bernards, among others.

Most owners do not intend to cause their pets to be overweight but oftentimes part of the blame for overweight pets lies with the owners. It is easy to over feed pets with treats and even people food, which is often unhealthy for them. You may want to make you dog happy by sharing your dinner with them, but to avoid weight problems, it is best to not do this. Feeding your dog or cat a healthy balanced diet, and making sure they are active enough are key to maintaining a healthy weight. Portion control is very important for pets whether or not they are overweight. Most pet food packages will offer recommendations for serving sizes but it is important to remember that these are simply general guidelines. How much you should feed your pet will depend on their size, age, and activity level.

If you determine that your pet is in fact overweight, it may be time for a diet. The first step is evaluating exactly what your pet is eating on a daily basis. You will not necessarily need to stop giving your dog or cat treats altogether but it may be necessary to cut back on the amount of treats they are consuming. There are also several healthy alternatives that pets might enjoy including rice cakes and vegetables. You also may need to reduce their food portions but this should be done gradually over a period of about six to eight weeks. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine exactly how many calories your pet should be consuming on a daily basis for optimal health.

Overweight pets should also exercise as exercise is just as important for pets as for people. Exercise can be as simple as taking your pet for a walk, swimming, or playing ball. About ten to fifteen minutes of activity each day is recommended. Swimming is especially good for older dogs or those with joint problems.

Overweight pets can face a whole host of issues so it is important for your pet's health and safety that they maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can cause diabetes, trouble breathing, orthopedic issues, pancreatitis, and other serious medical issues. To keep your pets at their happiest and healthiest, do your best to feed them a healthy diet, and make sure they get plenty of physical activity.

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