MY PET HAS BEEN PACKING ON A FEW EXTRA LB’S. WHAT IS CONSIDERED OVERWEIGHT FOR PETS? ANY THOUGHTS ON A DIET PLAN?
Dear Tubby: Well, it’s very easy for dogs and cats to become overweight! I have a cat now, who is still considered a kitten, but is overweight per our veterinarian!
So the secret to knowing if your pet is overweight is in the ribs. Standing over your pet, run your hands over his or her ribs, along his or her side. If you can easily feel ribs (without being able to SEE them) your pet is ok. If you can NOT feel ribs your pet is most likely overweight.
With cats, even looking under them can help. Does your cat have a hanging belly? Well, that’s not just fur down there! It’s FAT! And it’s swaying in the wind!
So what do you do? Well, the same thing you’d do for people applies to pets. Diet and exercise.
Obviously I want you to first consult with your veterinarian to make sure there is no underlying issue.
Second, if your veterinarian says all’s ok, start with the diet. No one said cats need to be able to eat all the time. If you ate like most cats, you’d be obese, too! Twice a day feeding is just fine. What Kitty doesn’t finish in a few minutes, take away. Most likely Kitty will pester you for a while until his or her stomach gets used to the difference in feeding.
Same goes for Fido – Smaller amounts are better (your veterinarian can tell you how much). Don’t go by what the bag of dog food says – believe me, that’s for VERY active dogs. And dry food is actually better and has less fat than wet food.
Fido bugging you between feedings? Try carrots, etc., for “snacks” They’re great to chomp on and have almost nothing in calories. Remember that dog biscuits are VERY high in calories!!
There is low fat cat and dog food available. Remember, though, that your pet is considered a senior at about 5 years old so even switching to a senior food might help.
Now for exercise – MOVE IT!!! Cats love to chase things. Put a ball of aluminum foil on the end of a string and toss it around! Got a fishing pole? Put the ball on the end of the line and cast away!
Dogs love movement, too – so WALK IT! My dog loves my treadmill, by the way, but I always have to supervise him on it!!
Bottom line is that we over feed our pets all the time. So keeping them trim and fit is vital to their health and well being. Fat animals live shorter lives with higher medical bills. Check with your vet to see if YOUR pet is overweight and then follow what the vet says to make sure you both live happily ever after.