Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Simple Changes Help Maintain Your Pets Proper Weight

Obesity, a major concern for our pets, is on the rise.  Excess or poor quality food, a sedentary lifestyle, and an overabundance of treats are some of the contributing factors.  However, making a few simple changes in your pets daily routine can help them shed some excess pounds and improve their overall health and quality of life.

Poor Food Quality

Before your buy that can of food or bag of kibble take a moment to read the ingredient list.  Both dogs and cats need a good protein source in their food. Since ingredient information lists the contents from greatest to smallest percentage the first item on the list should be a protein. If it is a grain, this shows the food contains more fillers than quality ingredients.  This type of food is like fast food for your pet: Easy to eat, slightly addicting, but only temporarily satisfying.  Feeding poor quality food will result in overeating since the fillers provide little substance.

Portion Control

Set a specific feeding time for your pets.  At those times fill their bowls with the appropriate amount of food, allow them time to eat, and then remove the bowls when they are empty or your pet no longer shows interest.  Avoid the use of self feeders since, although some dogs and cats will eat only when they are hungry, many will not.  Some will eat out of boredom or to satisfy their "survival instinct", to eat all the food before others get it.  Whatever the cause, the result overtime will be excess weight.


All pets need exercise.  For dogs, this should come in the form of a daily walk (20 - 30 minute minimum) or vigorous playtime.  Letting a dog out in the yard to "run around" will not provide the exercise they need.  Go for an early morning or late evening walk or run, play an energetic game of fetch, anything that gets them moving.

Fun Exercise Toys for Kitty
Indoor cats need exercise too.  Small toys like balls, pompoms, or springs are great for chasing.  Keep and eye as kitty plays in case they need your help to retrieve the toy from out of reach places.  Other types of kitty's favorite toys can be slid down a hallway or up/down stairs to encourage your cat to get moving.  Not only will the exercise have health benefits but the playtime will be a social experience for your cat.

Limit the Treats

Treats are not only a part of training they are also fun and enjoyable for your pet.  Unfortunately, too many may lead to obesity.  When training, use small treats or break a larger treat into pieces.  Limit larger treats to once a day like after a walk or playtime.  And remember, a belly run, back massage or scratches under the ears and an enthusiastic "great job!" are also good "treats" for a job well done.

Good quality food and an active lifestyle will maintain your pet's proper weight and keep them happy and healthy.  Additionally, walks and playtime are great bonding experiences between you and your pet - a benefit for all.  

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