Pup is carrying a few extra pounds??? There are some very easy ways to help determine this at home, which can then help when you visit your vet next for planning out a weight management program.
56% of dogs and 60% of cats are now considered to be overweight or obese, this number has been increasing in the past decade. Many animal nutritionists and veterinarians believe this to be a result of both overfeeding as well as the increase in treats being given to our companion animals. As a pet owner it may be a challenge to not feed your pets every time they whine at the bowl or give you puppy dog eyes for some table scraps or an extra treat. However, this can vastly deplete the health of the animal causing them increasing discomfort as they age.
Pet parents are effectively enabling “eating addictions” within their pets as they use food and treat to coax pet affection. This may be rewarding as a pet owner to constantly treat your pets, however this can be harmful to your pet’s biological clock. Extreme feeding patterns may result in additional stress eating behaviours, as well as decreased satiation on a normal and healthy meal plan. The only way to correct these behaviours is through practicing tough love on your pet and withholding treats and additional meals.
There are a couple ways as a pet parent to monitor your feeding schedule with your pet that will prevent overfeeding. Using a variety of reminders such as phone alerts, refrigerator magnets as well as feeding charts above your pet’s food station can be useful.
Implementing a chart above your pet's feeding station can allow for easy monitoring of when your dog has been fed. This can be seen by all members in the household to avoid pets’ receiving additional unnecessary meals. We recommend doing this on a small chalk or white board so that it can be erased and reused weekly. Check out the chart below for a great example!
Treats can also contain a ton of unnecessary ingredients and calories that are not conducive to your pet’s health. When feeding treats it is important to be sparing as well as select for treats that are beneficial for your pet’s overall health, such as cooked chicken or natural peanut butter.
Nutrition and diet are not the only preventative measures that you should be taking as a pet parent. Exercise is also crucial in obesity prevention. Walking is a key element for weight loss in obese canines, mild forms of exercise should be prescribed in the beginning phases of your pet’s weight loss journey. This is in an effort to not overwhelm your dog’s body and cause further damage.
Obesity can result in a variety of chronic health implications such as diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, increased blood pressure and cancer just to name a few. Once obesity has onset it is important to ask yourself as a pet parent what preventative measures you are going to take next. With a pet care professional, you can come up with a caloric regimen, an exercise schedule and a weight loss plan for your pet. These steps will ensure that your pet’s condition does not worsen and result in more chronic symptoms of disease.