No one enjoys being told that they’re a bit overweight and need to drop a few pounds to preserve their health. At least when a pet receives that news at a check-up, they don’t feel the embarrassment that we do! But of course, the responsibility for weight loss still falls on you, their owner. So how can you help your pet shed a bit of excess weight, once you’ve found out Shaggy is a bit too… fluffy?
Work it off. Excess weight in pets is often caused by a lack of exercise. It’s understandable, especially for indoor pets who don’t get many opportunities for movement. Take your dog for a regular walk or outings at a dog park. Scheduling “play dates” with a friend’s dog is another great idea.
If you have a cat, they can be a bit trickier to get moving. Purchasing a “cat tree” for your home can encourage climbing, and some new toys can get an apathetic cat playing again. Sometimes, especially if your cat is an “only pet”, adding a new cat to the household can inspire some chasing and wrestling. Of course, this isn’t the right choice for everyone, so weigh that option carefully.
Choose healthier treats. Choose treats that are closer to what your pet would be eating in nature, and skip the processed store-bought treats. And of course, remember that a very small portion is still considered a “treat”. Hide the treat or make your pet work for it to encourage exercise.
Use a “slow feeder” or “food puzzle” device. These feeders provide a challenge, and get your pet moving. They will also help your pet feel like they’re eating more, which can be important when you reduce their portions.
Measure your pet’s food. Start by reducing your pet’s daily portion of food by about 25 percent. At your next appointment, we can discuss the correct portions sizes (it’s not always the amount listed on the bag).
Switch to a low-calorie food. Let’s discuss food options at your next visit, and we’ll help you select a food that meets your pet’s health and caloric needs.
If after a few months of diet control and exercise the weight is not decreasing, then blood work would be recommended for further investigation.