According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2020 Veterinary Emerging Topics Report, "more than half of all adult dogs seen at Banfield’s more than 1,000 locations across the country were at least 10 percent to 20 percent over their ideal weight." This shows that pet obesity has become a serious issue in the United States, affecting hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats per year.
In addition to osteoarthritic conditions, obesity in pets can lead to more serious health issues, namely cardiovascular diseases, decreased immunity, endocrinopathies, joint disorders, diabetes and metabolic abnormalities, among others. This Pet Obesity Awareness Day, we offer pet parents a useful guide on how to keep their fur babies fit, healthy, and happy.
Read on for some helpful tips and tricks:
Go for Daily Walks
A simple jaunt around the block, when done regularly, can go a long way toward keeping your furry best friend at his ideal weight. To make the most out of the exercise, it’s best to go at a brisk pace or even a light jog instead of a leisurely stroll.
Set off at a comfortable pace and use a running leash to keep your pet close and prevent him from getting distracted by the sights, sounds and smells around them. Running leashes, when attached to a step-in dog harness or martingale collar, deter your pup from straying off-track, all without exerting pressure on their neck or windpipe.
Do Away with the Doggie Treats
Treats are a valuable training tool and a great way to tell your dog that she's done something well. However, many dog owners are prone to spoiling their dogs and giving them treats whenever they want. Not only does this defeat the purpose of treats, but it can also become a factor in your fur baby’s weight gain.
Should your dog need to lose a few pounds, the best thing to do is to eliminate treats from their diet. If you must reward them during training, consider switching to fruits or vegetables instead, as these foods contain fewer calories.
Engage Them in Interactive Play
Your dog’s exercise routine doesn’t have to be limited to a daily walk. You and your pet can engage in physical activity and have a lot more fun in the process by playing retrieve or tug-of-war games with each other.
Consider investing in a multi-purpose tennis ball toy that’s just as fun for tugging as it is for tossing, or go a less traditional route with a rope frisbee that’s easy to throw, easy to catch, and designed to be roughed up.
Establish a Feeding Schedule
Free feeding is the act of leaving a bowl of food out for your dog at all times. While it may seem more convenient for pet owners at first, this method can quickly lead to obesity, as dogs and cats tend to overeat if they’re given the chance.
Instead, make sure to schedule your pet’s meals. Scheduled feeding may be a little less convenient compared to free feeding, but it allows you to monitor and control your pet’s food intake and eating habits.
Measure Out Their Meals
One of the most effective ways to keep your dog at his ideal weight is to feed the right amount of food. This means refraining from overfilling your pet’s bowl to the brim and taking the time to weigh and measure the food you’re giving them.
It may help to invest in a smaller dog bowl, a dedicated scooper, or a weighing scale to make it easier to portion out your pup’s meals.
Consult Your Veterinarian
Before putting your pet on any sort of diet plan or exercise regimen, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian first. A routine health check will let you know your dog’s current weight, what their target weight should be, how much food and exercise you should give them to reach that target weight and so on. If your dog has a pre-existing condition, you can ask your veterinarian for advice on how to best manage your pet’s weight given their specific health needs.
These are just a few of the ways you can help keep your pooch in good shape. By combining a proper diet with plenty of exercise, we can all contribute to the health and well-being of our beloved furry friends.
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