Updated 06/23/2010 05:00 AM
Pet Pointers: Keeping your pet's weight in check
Obesity is not only a growing problem with people but with our pets as well. Today, we'll learn more about fighting obesity in our pets in this edition of Pet Pointers.
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The next time you cuddle or groom your pet, feel around their mid section. Is it fleshy? Soft where there should be a more solid tummy?
When looking at your cat or dog from above, if you can't see their waist line, your pet may need to start a weight loss program.
Obesity in cats and dogs can lead to diabetes, arthritis and joint pain and other possible complications.
Feeding what is recommended on the package can be part of the problem! All commercial pet foods come with recommended feeding instructions. These recommendations are not requirements.
Recent studies have shown dogs and cats kept in the house, fed at the amounts on the dry food label, will eventually become overweight.
Don't drastically reduce the amount of food right away. If your cat loses weight too fast they can develop a disease called hepatic lipidosis. Try breaking up their recommended amount into several smaller meals. This will also help keep your pet from eating too fast because they are hungry.
For inactive, healthy indoor cats you can gradually decrease the total amount of food by one quarter to one third. Adding a half cup of water to your dog's food will help slow them down, help them feel fuller and increase their hydration.
When people need to lose weight we exercise more. Your cat has to exercise more, too. There's little chance kitty is going for a walk and pilates is out of the question. Sleeping on the couch, while you are at work is what most cats do. Try adding some interactive toys to the cat's environment that mimic the movement of prey.
Consider adopting another playful cat for a single cat to play with. A kitty condo with lots of platforms is also a fun way for your cats to exercise and they will love a new perch with a view. And you and your dog will enjoy health benefits with longer more frequent walks.
If you think your pet may need to shape up first consult your vet for guidance. Studies show fit pets live longer healthier lives.
Here are some steps you can take.
1.) Have a thorough physical exam by your vet. Your veterinarian needs to do a thorough physical exam, blood chemistry profile including thyroid hormone evaluation and record an accurate weight for the cat.
2.) Feed small portions at intervals rather than continuous free access.
3.) Feed foods high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates (cats don't have the same enzymes that people do to break down carbs. Check with your vet for suggestions appropriate for your cat's age and nutritional requirements.)
4.) Feed less food than you have been (cut down gradually to avoid complications and hepatic lipidosis.)
5.) Help your cat get more exercise by enriching the cat's environment with toys, a fun kitty condo or a buddy.
6.) Weigh your cat every four weeks to check on their progress.
7.) If you make changes and don't notice a loss you should consult your vet. There may be another problem.