What to do if you think your pet is overweight

Here are some things you should consider if you think your pet may be overweight...

Have a veterinarian examine your pet. Many medical conditions can cause sudden weight gain such as thyroid disease and other endocrine disorders, certain diabetic conditions, adrenal gland problems, etc. Work with your veterinarian on a diet that is formulated specifically for your pet. Remember this is not an instant fix. A pet that is 30% overweight should take no less than about 6 months to reach it's ideal weight.

Measure your pets food. Keep a track of everything your pet eats, how much (measure it) and who is feeding them. YOU MAY BE SURPRISED BY HOW MUCH FOOD YOUR PET IS ACTUALLY EATING. This will help you, your family, and your veterinarian or weight loss technician know how much your pet is actually getting. And most importantly be honest. It won't help your veterinarian or your pet if you leave anything out; even a piece of bread crust you gave 'Fluffy' off your sandwich can potentially be a problem.

Instead of one large meal a day feed your pet two or three smaller meals. If they are to be given 2 1/2 cups of food a day split that up. For example, give 1 cup in the morning 1/2 a cup at lunch time and 1 cup at night. Your pet feels it is getting more food even though it isn't, and they burn calories as they eat. More meals eaten means more calories burned.

NO TABLE SCRAPS!! They call it people food for a reason. If your pet is used to getting a treat during your meal inform your veterinarian or weight loss technician so that it can be worked into your pet's diet. Snacks and treats can be adding more calories to your pets ever expanding waist than their actual diet.  If you must feed your pet a snack at dinner time include such things as raw carrots, green beans, ice cubes or even better, store part of their daily food in a jar and use that as a treat.

CAUTION: Many of the foods safe for human can toxic even fatal to our pets.  Consult your veterinarian before offering your pet ANY non pet food item.

Weigh your pet regularly. While on a diet it is very important to weigh your pet routinely to be sure that they are not losing weight too quickly or that they are at least maintaining their weight. Scheduled weigh-in with your veterinarian or weight loss technician are recommended every 4 weeks to evaluate and monitor your pet's weigh loss.  Too much weight loss too quickly can cause unwanted health risks.  If needed, adjustments to your pets dietary weight loss plan can be made at that time. 

Exercise Exercise Exercise! Daily physical activity is a must with any diet. DO NOT expect your pet to snooze on the couch through the week and make up for that time by spending hours playing on the weekend. When a dog needs to start getting more exercise because he or she is overweight walking is a great place to start.  There are numerous benefits to walking your dog.

What if you can't get outside to walk your dog? Does this mean you should stop exercising all together? Absolutely not, it is still very important that you pup gets physical and mental exercise every day. There are numerous indoor activities that you can do with you dog that will stimulate them daily when you can’t go outside.  Cats tend to become more sedentary as they get older and may require extra stimulation to get them moving. 

Here are some ways to get your pet moving on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy life:

  • Toy or small breeds need two 20-30 minute exercise regiments a day.  That can be a walk, some time outside, or just some good old fashion play time with lots of toys.
  • Medium size breeds need approximately 90 minutes of exercise a day
  • Large breed animals 60-90 minutes of exercise a day (dependent on the age and health of your pet).
  • Cats need a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise a day. 
  • Swimming is a good non weight-bearing activity for overweight or arthritic dogs.

Know when your pet is tired.  Dogs will hesitate before fetching, pant rapidly, or let their tongue droop when they are tired.

Just Remember: You are not alone!! Don't be afraid to ask questions! 

 If you have questions feel free to Email our Fit Club Coach Jake Drnec at jake@funkstownvet.com

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