Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important factors effecting your pet’s overall health and quality of life. Overweight pets are at an increased risk of diabetes, damaged joints and ligaments, heart disease and high blood pressure, digestive orders, and breathing problems among many other potentially life threatening ailments. As a pet owner it is up to you to make sure your pet is at a healthy weight.
Here are 10 tips for healthy weight loss:
* Take your pet for a physical exam. Before embarking on a pet weight loss program, get a complete physical examination by your pet’s veterinarian. While only a small percentage of overweight pets have an underlying medical problem, it is necessary to diagnose those cases and mange them appropriately in order to have any success with the weight loss program.
* Record current weight and body score. Most clinics have accurate walk-on scales. Weigh the pet in pounds or kilograms. With your veterinarian’s help, body condition score the animal.
* Establish a goal of weight loss for the dog. Remember it is a long term project. The safest rate of weight loss for dogs is about 2% of their total body weight per week. Dogs should be reevaluated and reweighed every 3 weeks.
* Create an exercise program for your pet and stick to it. It is important to take into account your pet’s age, health, and any underlying medical conditions so that you do not overdo it. For inactive pets, exercise programs should start slow and build up to higher activity levels.
* Spend more time playing with your pet. Exercise can be fun for your pet by incorporating toys to increase their activity.
* Keep your pet entertained. A bored pet will become lazy and lethargic so make sure your pet has stimulating toys for the times you cannot be there. If possible, you should also try to increase your pet’s interaction with other pets. Some neighborhoods even have “play groups” for pets.
* Monitor your pet’s progress to determine what works. Keep a written log of your pet’s weight and activity levels week by week.
* Make one person in charge of feeding. Eliminate additional persons from the “permitted to feed” list for consistency sake.
* Multi-dogs households may require different feeding methods. Multiple pets may require you to feed in separate locations and with separate diets based on needs (varying fat, protein and fiber level).
* Get an accurate diet history. An accurate accounting of daily calorie intake: all the food and treats fed to a pet on a typical day. Compare the number of calories consumed vs. calories needed.
Most important of all, shower your pet with attention and love. Happy, well-adjusted pets are healthier and have a higher energy level.