It's a hard discussion as vets we often have to have-telling clients that their pet is too heavy and needs a diet! We all are susceptible to those looks our dog or cats give us when we are eating our dinner. And we think, what's the harm in one fry, or one piece of chicken? But those calories add up for our pets and before we know our pet is too"fluffy!"
So what are some easy things you can do to help your pet stay at an ideal weight or loose weight?
**Start with measuring your pet's food out. Often when we ask clients, they tell us they feed a scoop of food to their pet...but how much is a scoop? Sometimes it is half a cup, sometimes two cups! So start with a measuring cup and see how much you are feeding your dog or cat each day. If your pet is overweight sometimes decreasing the amount you feed by 25% can help a lot. So if your dog is currently getting 2 cups a day, try giving 1.5 cups per day. Remember the amount recommend on the bag may not be the right amount for your pet!
**Use slow feeders/food puzzles/food toys-noticing a theme yet? We LOVE food toys! My dogs eat their meal predominately through food puzzles. We have an assortment and we rotate, so they do not get bored. But we have kongs, food balls, wobblers, snuffle mats, and more. And when the weather is nice, they hunt their food out of the grass-this is the best game ever! They will spend an hour getting every morsel from the grass. Using a form of a slow feeder is excellent in so many ways-it slows your pet down, keeps them occupied /entertained, makes them feel like they are eating more, and gives them both mental and sometimes physical stimulation.
**Use healthier treats. What are some healthy treats? Carrots, apple slices, melons (no rind), green beans (frozen are great because they like the crunchy texture), pumpkin, and more. Remember no onions, grapes/raisins, things with pits/seeds, nuts, or things along those lines. And our ultimate favorite healthy treat that our dogs love-especially in the summer-once cubes!
**And don't forget exercise! Exercise is so important to help keep your pet healthy. Of course make certain your pet is healthy enough for this. Walking your dog 1/2 mile a day-try for a mile each day. Play some games of fetch-with your cat and dog. Hide food/treats for them that they have to hunt-cats love this game too. As the weather gets nicer it's a great time to get into an exercise routine with your pet!
As with any change in your pet's exercise, diet or routine, check with your veterinarian to ensure these are healthy choices for your pet. And if your pet is not loosing weight, make sure your vet has checked them out to make sure there is not an underlying cause for their weight issues.
Here's to happy and healthy pets!
Boo Donoho, DVM